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SCAND 511 A: Books in Scandinavian Studies

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
SAV 141
Photo of Olivia Gunn
Olivia Noble Gunn

Syllabus Description:

BOOKS: "Melancholy, Death, and Cold Hope"

What follows is a brief description of SCAND 511, including selected readings and prospective guiding questions. The syllabus for this course is still under construction. Please contact with any questions about the course!

During winter quarter 2022, SCAND 511 will focus on 20th century Nordic novels (and one late 19th century drama) that feature death, or profound melancholy, in the snow. In addition to fiction, we will explore texts from philosophy and theory, psychoanalysis, and queer, postcolonial, and critical race studies focused on questions of death and mourning.

Our primary fictional readings will be:

  • John Gabriel Borkman (Ibsen, 1896)
  • Trollvinter (Moomin Midwinter, Jansson, 1957)
  • Is-slottet (The Ice Palace, Vesaas, 1963)
  • Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for snø (Smilla's Sense of Snow, Høeg, 1992)
  • Kjærlighet (Love, Ørstavik, 1997)
  • Skugga-Baldur (The Blue Fox, Sjón, 2003)

Other sources will include (but are not limited to) whole works or excerpts from:

  • Mourning and Melancholy (Freud, 1918)
  • For Derrida (Miller, 2009)
  • Precarious Life (Butler, 2006)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death (2012)
  • Political Theology of the Earth (Keller, 2018)
  • Necropolitics (Mbembe, 2019)
  • "Queer Death Studies: Death, Dying, and Mourning from a Queerfeminist Perspective" (Radomska, 2020)

Some guiding questions:

  • What relationships do our fictional readings develop between death and mourning, on the one hand, and setting, season, and landscape, on the other? How and why?
  • How do we negotiate the gaps and differences in scale between micro and macro, personal and political, experiences and theories of death, mourning, and crisis?
  • What is the difference between political and apolitical forms of withdrawal, refusal, and mourning?
  • Can negative feelings offer tools for repair?
  • How does literature negotiate the unknowable and unbearable? Why?


Catalog Description: 
Literary texts, genres, movements, themes, authorships, and/or the material culture of texts significant to the field which challenge categorizations of literary scholarship. Topics drawn from Nordic and Baltic literature. Offered: AWSp.
Last updated: 
September 17, 2021 - 3:30am