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SCAND 100 A: Introduction to Scandinavian Culture

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 1:30pm - 2:20pm
GUG 220

Syllabus Description:


SCAND 100, Winter 2018

Introduction to Scandinavian Culture

When and where: MTWTh, 1:20 to 2:20, GUG 220

Lecturer: Liina-Ly Roos,

Office: Raitt Hall, 305Q

Office hours: M at 10:30-11:30; W at 2:30-3:20

What do we know about the Vikings? Are the Scandinavian countries the happiest nations in the world? What was Baltic singing revolution? How did World War II impact the Nordic-Baltic region? How diverse is the Nordic-Baltic region today? What do IKEA, Nordic crime fiction, Pippi Longstocking, SKAM, Finnish tango, and e-Estonia tell us about the Nordic and Baltic countries? 


This course will discuss these questions and offer you an introduction to the Scandinavian countries and the greater Nordic-Baltic region. By the end of the course you will be familiar with important works of literature, film, music and ongoing cultural debates in the Nordic and Baltic countries. We will approach the source material by focusing on concepts, such as nature, nation, family, childhood, happiness, melancholy, freedom and diversity. This course’s curriculum will suit both the general interests of students from across campus, as well as serve as a foundational course for students pursuing a major or minor in Scandinavian Studies or Scandinavian Languages and Literature.


Student Learning Objectives:

  • To gain a knowledge of the Nordic-Baltic region in a broad cultural, literary and social context.
  • To be able to investigate specific Nordic and Baltic literary texts, major figures, and ideas.
  • To develop skills for interpreting literary texts and films.
  • To investigate the Nordic and Baltic countries’ role and contributions as small nations in a globalizing world.


Required Texts: 

Available at the University Book Store. Please be sure to purchase the editions listed!


Pippi Longstocking***Puffin Books (2005)

Nordic Theory of Everything***Harper'Collins Publishers (2016/2017)


Other Readings/Viewings:

Other documents, links and streaming will be provided on Canvas.



Journaling 50%

All students will complete weekly and sometimes bi-weekly journal assignments. The journal will provide a place to collect short commentaries, to paste images, produce sketches, ‘brain clouds,’ etc. Prompts will be posted on Canvas and/or announced in class. On weekly journal days, students will exchange materials and respond with short, in-class writing and conversation (10-20 minutes). Journals will be evaluated and given a preliminary grade at midterm (week 7), a final grade at the end of the quarter. Students will upload photos of their journal entries to Canvas. See the rubric posted on Canvas (“does not meet/meets/exceeds expectations”). 

Goals of this assignment include 1) engaging thoughtfully and creatively with readings, lectures, and other course materials; 2) producing a document of interest (maybe even beauty); 3) receiving peer feedback and evaluation; 4) producing pre-writing for micro-papers and gaining familiarity with materials for quiz-prep; 5) thinking differently 

Due dates for uploading journal entries: 

February 7

March 13


Tests 30%
Three tests will be given over the course of the quarter (during weeks 3, 6, and 10). Tests will consist of reading identification and analysis, as well as lecture-content and concept-engagement questions. They will be open note. They should be completed in

Goal: testing your preparation, familiarity, and engagement with reading, lectures, and guest lectures 

Group test dates:

January 24

February 21

March 14


Micro Papers 20% 

You will upload two micro papers (225-255 words) on Canvas during the quarter. These papers can be submitted earlier but no later than week 4 (paper 1: January 30) and week 8 (paper 2: February 27). See the prompts and “does not meet/meets/exceeds expectations” rubric on Canvas. 

Goals: 1) receiving feedback, 2) practicing the skill of short and concise communication (the ‘elevator speech’), 3) producing focused and revised work 

Due dates for Micro Papers: 

Jan 31

March 7


Policies and Procedures 

If the course schedule lists a reading or video that must be read or watched for a particular class, you are responsible for doing so before that class; please come prepared! Bring the readings that are assigned for that day with you.

Do not cheat. 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, talk to your professor.
    Late assignments will NOT be accepted (except in cases of emergency or illness, to be considered on a case by case basis). Contact me before the due date if you have a legitimate reason for lateness or need an extension.
    Please practice professionalism, care, and respect for yourself and those around you. The classroom is a community in which we learn from one another, so showing up and caring matter.

You are more than welcome to email me with well-considered questions. I will generally respond to emails within 48 hours. You are also welcome to visit me during office hours. My office is an LGBTQ friendly place. 


Grade scale 

96-100%=4.0 ; 93-95%=3.9 ; 91-92%=3.8 ; 90%=3.7 ; 89%=3.6 ; 88%=3.5 ; 87%=3.4 ; 86%=3.3 ; 85%=3.2 ; 84%=3.1 ; 83%=3.0 ; 82%=2.9 ; 81%=2.9 ; 81%=2.8 ; 80%=2.7 ; 79%=2.6 ; 78%=2.5 ; 77%=2.4 ; and so on and so forth(0-59%=0.0) 


Course Schedule and Assignments: 

Week 1: Jan 7-10


Mon: Introduction to the class and syllabus

Tue: Images of Scandinavia

Read: Prologue and Chapters 1-2 of Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen

MODULE 1: "Wars and borders" 

Wed: Scandinavian and Baltic nation-states 

Read: "Estonia's Innovation Culture: How did it happen?"

Thu: WWII in Scandinavia and Baltic + JOURNAL DAY


Week 2: Jan 14-17

Mon: Cold War in Iceland and the Nordic countries

Read: Excerpt from The Atom Station by Halldor Laxness

Tues: Guest lecture: Post-WWII Faroese literature

Wed: Crossing the Baltic sea

Watch: Disco and Atomic War

MODULE 2: "Nature and Society" 

Thurs: Forest as refuge + JOURNAL DAY

Read: Excerpt from Man who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk


Week 3: Jan 14-17


Tues: Cabins as refuge, therapy, horror?

Wed: Guest lecture: Nature in Finnish films

Thu: Group Test 1 


Week 4: Jan 28-31

MODULE 3: "Childhood and Welfare State" 

Mon: Education and childhood in Nordic welfare states + JOURNAL DAY

Read: Chapters 3-5 of Nordic Theory of Everything 

Tues: Astrid Lindgren and Scandinavian Children's literature 

Read: pages 11-88 from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Wed: Pippi Longstocking and the Autonomous Child 

Read: pages 89-144  from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Thurs: Sámi Childhoods + MICRO PAPER 1 DUE

Watch: Sami Blood


Week 5: Feb 4-7

Mon: Sámi people in contemporary Nordic countries + JOURNAL DAY

Read: Excerpt from The Sámi People: Traditions and Transition

MODULE 3: "Family, Gender and Sexuality" 

Tue: Love, poetry and gender in the Viking age

Read: "Saga of Gunnlaug the Serpeant tongue"

Wed: Musical perfomance by Latvian Composer Peteris Vasks + JOURNALS DUE

Thu: Guest lecture on Icelandic sagas


Week 6: Feb 11-14

Mon: Guest lecture on the Moomin culture

Read: Excerpts from Tales from Moominvalley by Tove Jansson

Tues: The Modern Breakthrough - Brandes, Ibsen, Strindberg, Kallas

Wed: Henrik Ibsen's A Dolls House

Read: pages 3-57 of A Dolls House

Thu: Guest Lecture, Olivia Gunn on A Dolls House and Henrik Ibsen

Read: pages 58-81 of A Dolls House


Week 7: Feb 18-21


Tue: Guest lecture on gender and equity in Danish education

Wed: Sexuality and gender in post-Soviet Baltic countries + JOURNAL DAY



Week 8: Feb 25-28

MODULE 5: "Happiness and Misery" 

Mon: Nordic happiness

Read: chapters 6-9 of The Nordic Theory of Everything

Tue: Buying hygge and happiness? 

Wed: Scandinavian crime fiction, guest lecture

Watch: 1-2 episodes of The Bridge

Thu: IKEA as a utopia

Read: "The Cultural archive of the IKEA store" + MICRO PAPER 2 DUE! 



Week 9: March 4-7

Mon: Guest lecture on Finnish tango and melancholy

MODULE 6: "Diversity and migration"

Tue: The Danish Cartoon Crisis and free speech + JOURNAL DAY

Wed: Guest musical perfomance of Arvo Pärt's music

Thu: Migration and new nationalism in the Nordic-Baltic region


Week 10: March 11-14

Mon: Discussion of Amateurs

Watch: Amateurs

Tue:  Presentation of Skam and its unique approach to storytelling + JOURNAL DAY 

Watch: first 4 episodes of Skam Season 3

Read:From ‘secret’ online teen drama to international cult phenomenon”

Wed: Discussion of Skam and representation of diversity and agency + JOURNALS DUE

Watch: episode 5-8 of season 3 at home.




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Catalog Description: 
The Scandinavian experience from the Viking Age to the present day; the background for contemporary Scandinavian democracy, with major emphasis on the cultural, political, and religious development of the Scandinavian countries.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:22pm