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SCAND 508 A: Topics In Scandinavian Prose

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
RAI 314
Photo of Marianne Stecher
Marianne Stecher-Hansen

Syllabus Description:

SCAND 508 Topics in Scandinavian Prose: 

War – Displacement, Exile, and Migration.

Professor Marianne Stecher - Winter 2018

M/W 1:30  - 3:20 pm (314 Raitt Hall)

The number of displaced people, refugees, and migrants on a global scale is greater today than during any period following the Second World War.   Today displacement and migration are related to climate change, global poverty, and civil war.  This seminar seeks an overview of narratives about displacement, exile, migration, violence, and war in a Nordic cultural, historical, and literary context.   As a graduate seminar in Scandinavian Studies, the seminar will explore literary narratives of “War – Displacement, Exile, and Migration” in Nordic literary prose in various prose genres, ranging from the medieval Icelandic saga to modern historical fiction, the documentary novel, the memoir, and the collective war novel, as well as prose fiction.  This investigation will be illuminated by critical theory, including essays by Edward Said (“Reflections on Exile”), Hannah Arendt, and Walter Benjamin (from "Critique of Violence" and "The Destructive Character").  Further, we will read an essay by the influential Danish critic Georg Brandes ( “The Armenians,” 1917).  

The seminar is open to students in Scandinavian Studies (who read the works in the original Danish, Norwegian and Swedish – and Finnish, when possible) and to other graduate students in the Humanities who may read the works in the English translations, which will be available to students in the seminar.

Note:  For graduate students in the MA degree program in Scandinavian Studies, this seminar will cover many of the prose works (or works that served as substitutions) on the MA Core Reading List.   In this manner, the seminar will assist both literature and area studies students in preparing for the MA exams in the Spring quarter.  


The primary Nordic texts are the following (on order with University Bookstore and/or placed on reserve with UW libraries)

  1. Medieval Icelandic: Laxdæla Saga, c. 1240, as The Saga of the People of Laxardal, Penguin Classics.  (U-Bookstore)
  2. Johannes V. Jensen, The Fall of the King, University of Minnesota Press, 2012 (on order). Danish: J. V. Jensen, Kongens fald, 1900 (U-Bookstore, both editions).
  1. Sigrid Undset, Return to the Future, 1942 (U-Bookstore). Norwegian: Sigrid Undset, Tilbake til Fremtiden, 1945 (on reserve).
  2. Väinö Linna, Unknown Soldiers, Penguin Classics, 2015 (U-Bookstore). Finnish:  Linna, Tuntematon sotilas, 1954.
  3. Sofi Oksanen, When the Doves Disappeared, 2012 (U-Bookstore). Finnish: Sofi Oksanen, Kum kyyhkyset katosivat, 2010.
  4. Sara Omar, Dødevaskeren (Politikens forlag, 2017), on order.  

Course assignments and evaluation:

30%                     three critical response papers (2 pages each)

10%                     Abstract with bibliography for term paper

40%                     Final Seminar paper (10 – 12 pages)

20%                     Seminar participation 

Catalog Description: 
Seminar on various topics in Scandinavian prose, including shorter prose texts, as well as a selection of the significant novels of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:29pm