What is this course about?
This course is an introduction to the Scandinavian countries and the greater Nordic-Baltic region. We will explore key events, ideas, and works in Scandinavia from the Viking Age to today, and zoom in on several hallmark works of literature and film, cultural and historical moments, and political and social developments. Our discussions will include: Why are the Vikings such and enduring and popular cultural image in Scandinavia? How has art been used as a tool for social change? What is a welfare state, and what cultural values underpin it? What is the Nordic model of sustainability, and whom does it benefit? How does the Nordic history of colonialism compare to the American? We will examine a variety of media produced in or about Scandinavia: literature, film, journalism, music, podcasts, television series, and more.
This course complements other introductory courses in the Department of Scandinavian Studies and suits both the general interests of students across campus, as well as those of students pursuing a major or minor in Scandinavian Studies or Scandinavian Language and Literature.
What will you learn?
The goal of this course is not only to give you a basic understanding of some of the broad cultural, literary, and social features of Scandinavia, but also to give you insight into the specific inflections and cultural contexts of each of the regions individually. You will be able to communicate these understandings to others and to contextualize them historically.
This class will also give you the basic tools and vocabulary to critically analyze and interpret literary texts and film, to describe cultural phenomena, and to compare attitudes and lifestyles within Scandinavia and between Scandinavia and the United States.
This class will also offer a framework for understanding colonialism and structures of power in a Nordic context. You will gain a basic understanding of the rights of Indigenous peoples and be able to identify key differences and similarities in the history of colonial oppression of Indigenous peoples between Scandinavia and the United States.