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SCAND 150 A: Norwegian Literary and Cultural History

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
SAV 131
Photo of Olivia Gunn
Olivia Noble Gunn

Syllabus Description:

SCAND 150 – Norwegian Literary and Cultural History – “HUMAN/NATURE”

UW, Fall 2018 • T/Th, 2:30 to 4:20 in SAV 131 • Professor Olivia Gunn –

Office Hours: Tuesdays 4:30 to 5:30, or by appointment (by appointment office hours can take place online)

Elements of this syllabus are subject to change!

“How do people imagine the landscapes they find themselves in? How does the land shape the imaginations of those who dwell in it?”

(Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, 1986, xxvii)

SCAND 150 introduces you to Norwegian literature and culture by focusing on representations of nature. It is often claimed that Norwegians have a particularly close relationship to the natural world that surrounds them, and that this closeness is uniquely reflected in their art and culture. This claim has inspired the organizing concept of this course: HUMAN/NATURE. As we explore Norwegian landscape paintings, novels, films, and other primary sources from the modern and postmodern eras (1814-2018), we will ask: What can we learn about Norwegian geography and culture while exploring answers to these questions? How do these primary sources depict or engage the natural world? How, in turn, do they delineate the human? In which ways do the human and the natural intersect and/or diverge? Can we ever draw a firm boundary between nature and culture?

Some major sub-themes from the course include: Romantic and counter-romantic landscapes; eros and anxiety in the wild; masculinity; exploration and colonization; indigeneity; anti-modernity; cabin culture; friluftsliv and more!

Learning goals include (but are not limited to!)

  • Gain and/or refine knowledge of significant peoples, products, and practices of Norway, including

    • Landscape paintings
    • Modern novels
    • Polar exploration literature
    • Eco-philosophy
    • Institutions that use nature for the purpose of forming and reforming citizen subjects
    • Silent and horror films
  • Gain and/or refine knowledge of some major aesthetic-philosophical movements in the modern and postmodern eras (1814 to 2018)
  • Practice and improve observation, reading, and analysis skills
  • Rethink the human and its place in understanding and critiquing the world



The following books are available at UW bookstore

  • Pan by Knut Hamsun
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  • Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

Other readings and viewings are available on Canvas




Come to class, ask questions, and share your insights. Let me know (for example, by speaking up, coming to office hours, turning in thoughtful work, chatting before or after class) that you are present and engaged with the material

COLLAGE/ANNOTATION/TEXT AS OBJECT: 20% (2 annotations, 10% each)

Increase familiarity with sources and develop more advanced literacy by annotating, close reading, and comparing/contrasting chosen quotes and images, in annotated-collage format

RESPONSE PAPERS: 30% (2 papers, 15% each)

Short, exploratory papers provide the opportunity for you to do some focused analysis and articulate your own observations concerning our primary sources, focused through the theme human/nature


Three quizzes/discussion assignments will be given online in the first hour of class (tentative dates are given on the calendar below). They will assess your engagement with lectures and readings. If you complete all three assignments fully, you will receive 100%


In groups of 3-4 individuals, you will create a research portfolio including a description of Rationale (who/what are you researching, and why?), annotated critical sources (2-4 additional articles, book chapters, or other relevant and scholarly sources), and a statement of Further Goals and Questions


Policies and Procedures

Papers must be typed and represent sources clearly with in-text citations, footnotes and/or bibliography. The following questions must always be answerable by the reader: Who said it (author’s name), and how/where can one find the source (title and page number, date and publisher, URL)?

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Cheating and plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • Copying the work of others or allowing others to do your work;
  • Directly quoting the words of others without using quotation marks, indented format, and in-text citations to identify them; or
  • Using sources (published or unpublished) without identifying them; or
  • Paraphrasing materials or borrowing the ideas of others without identifying the sources.

Plagiarizing, or copying and/or using the words or ideas of others without proper acknowledgement, undermines your learning, devalues the degree that you are seeking, and will result in failure of the assignment. Acknowledge and/or cite every single source that you consider when producing assignments. Over-citing is better than under-citing! If you need help understanding and avoiding plagiarism, come talk to me. Consequences for plagiarizing will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please see the following information on Student Academic Responsibility:

Late assignments will NOT be accepted, except in cases of emergency or illness, to be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you need an extension for legitimate, non-emergency reasons, you must arrange this with me before the due date

Please respect yourself and others.

  • EMAIL: You are more than welcome to email me and to come by during office hours or to make an appointment during another time. I will respond to your emails as soon as possible, but I do not check email after 6:00pm or on the weekends
  • My office is an LGBTQ friendly place
  • The classroom is a community in which we learn from one another, so please be present, kind, and focused
  • Unless necessary for specific assignments, do not use mobile phones or laptops in class, as it distracts me and other students. In some cases, it can detract from your own learning. See, for example, “A Learning Secret: Don’t take notes with a laptop” (
Catalog Description: 
A survey of Norwegian literary and cultural history from the Vikings to the present. Authors read include Bjornson, Ibsen, Hamsun, and Roolvaag.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:24pm