SCAND 310 A: Tove Jansson and Moominvalley in English

Winter 2024
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm / MEB 237
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Instructor: Prof. Andrew Nestingen

Course Meetings: T., Th., 2:30-4:20, Mechanical Engineering Building 237

Course Info: 5 Credits, A&H, No final exam

Office Hours: Th. 1:00-2:15, Raitt Hall 318

Contact:, (206)694-9100, Canvas Mailbox




Tove Jansson (1920-2001) was one of the Nordic countries most original and prominent writers and artists of the twentieth century. Her nine novels about Moominvalley and Finn Family Moomintroll belong to the classics of world literature. These novels have sold 15 million copies. They have also been adapted and circulated around the world, from Japan to South Africa, even transformed into Moomin theme parks in Finland and Japan.

Jansson’s career took shape in Finland’s minority language Swedish, and Jansson herself was positioned between cultures, with a Swedish mother and a Swedish-speaking Finnish father. Jansson’s personal life was deeply entwined with her art. Boel Westin titles her biography of the artist Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words: the Bohemian Jansson’s life intermingled with her art, and her life itself can be seen as an art work, in Bohemian fashion. For example, as an out lesbian in postwar Finland, Jansson’s sexual identity made her an exemplary figure in the loosening of heterosexual hegemony following the sexual revolution of the 1960s. This course studies Jansson’s literary production and also her other art, with a focus on the Moomin novels.


The course has four goals:

  1. Read and analyze major Moominvalley novels and comics of Tove Jansson;
  2. Study selected examples of Jansson’s other artistic production in relation to the novels;
  3. Study selected scenes of film and television adaptations of Jansson’s novels;
  4. Use critically the vocabulary, concepts, and arguments introduced in the course to analyze in writing examples of Jansson’s work.



  1. Reading assignments due for every class meeting – Not graded
  2. Participation – 10%
  3. Quizzes  – 30 %
    1. Quiz #1 (10%)
    2. Quiz #2  (10%)
    3. Quiz $3  (10%)
  4. Analytical Papers  – 60%
    1. Paper #1 (20%)
    2. Paper #2 (20%)
    3. Paper #3 (20%)

No final exam.



Participation: You should come to class with the assigned reading completed. I strongly encourage you to take notes on the readings, which you can draw upon while discussing the assigned texts in small groups and with the whole class. Active participants and leaders in discussion will earn high grades, but my experience is that students come to the class from many perspectives and participate in various, valuable ways. I take the variety of participation seriously and include it in evaluating your participation. That is why I ask you to set goals for your participation at the beginning of the class and why I ask you to assess your success in fulfilling your goals at the end of the class.  Your statement of goals and your self-evaluation are important to my determination of your final participation grade.  

Quizzes: There are three quizzes for the course. The quizzes will ask factual questions about the readings and our in-class discussions. The purpose of the quizzes is to incentivize thoughtful and comprehensive study of the course material. The quizzes will be administered online and you will be responsible for completing the quiz during the assigned period on Canvas. I do not offer second chances for ”forgetting to complete the quiz after starting,” flickering Internet connections, or forgetting to take the quiz, etc. Plan ahead and take the quiz on a campus Internet connection with your phone on airplane mode and your full focus on the quiz. In consideration of the online tools available for answering the quizzes, I will design the questions to reward students who complete the readings carefully, take notes, and engage with class discussion. The quizzes are open book.   

Papers: You will need to write three  5-page papers that reply to a prompt published on Canvas one week before the paper is due. The paper’s bibliography should be made up of course material (sources from the syllabus). Each prompt will ask you to analyze the previous weeks’ material. There is not a comprehensive final paper, which is why each paper is worth 20% of your final grade.

Criteria for Evaluation of Writing: I will evaluate writing assignments according to the following rubric. You can use this as a checklist to guide your drafting, proofreading, and revision. It will also be helpful in guiding your in your team projects.

  1. Is there a logical and compelling title for the paper?
  2. Is there a thoughtful, not-descriptive thesis stating the paper’s argument?
  3. Are the different paragraphs organized both internally and in relation to each other?
  4. Does the paper analyze/explain in detail specific examples from the readings and/or films to explain the thesis/argument?
  5. Is the writing clear and error free?



Texts are available at the University of Washington Bookstore. You need to purchase the books, whether in hard copy or as e-books, to complete the course.

Jansson, Tove, The Moomins and the Great Flood, 1945.

Jansson, Comet in Moominland, 1946.

Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll, 1946.

Jansson, Moominsummer Madness, 1954.

Jansson, Tove, Moominpappa at Sea, 1965.

Jansson, Tove, Moomin Valley in November, 1970.

Jansson, Tove, The Summer Book, 1972.

Jansson, Tove, Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip - Book Two, 2006.

Jansson, Tove, Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip – Book Three, 2008.

All readings that are not part of the books assigned for the course are available as PDFs on the Canvas course webpage, and are indicated in the course schedule as (Canvas).



Access and Accommodation:  Your personal learning experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so I an accommodate your needs in this course. If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, me, and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Academic Integrity: The University of Washington is a community dedicated to learning. Ethical expectations of students belonging to the community are defined in the student conduct code. Plagiarism, cheating, and disruptive behavior in class violate the code. Any violations of the code in connection with the course will result in referral to the College of Arts & Sciences Academic Integrity Office for investigation. The university provides guidance about how to avoid plagiarism.

All work submitted for this course must be yours. If you wish to use others’ work in completing the assigned papers, you must cite that work in text and in your bibliography. If you use words that you have not put together yourself, you should indicate your are doing so by placing the borrowed material in quotation marks and providing the source of the borrowed words in the bibliography. You may use library or online sources, including generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, when working on assignments, but you must cite such usages in text and in your bibliography. Uncited use of generative AI will be considered academic misconduct and I will refer it to the College of Arts & Sciences Academic Integrity Office for investigation. Please be aware, ChatGPT4 is generally a poor source, which includes many errors that can be hard for a  novice to spot. 

The assignments in this class have been designed to challenge you to develop creativity, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills. Using AI technology will limit your capacity to develop these skills and to meet the learning goals of this course.

If you have any questions about what constitutes academic integrity in this course or at the University of Washington, please feel free to contact me to discuss your concerns.

(This course policy is based on and uses language from The UW Center for Teaching and Learning’s guidance on students’ use of artificial intelligence.)

Land Acknowledgement: We recognize that the University of Washington stands on the lands and waters of the Coast Salish Peoples - the Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, and Tulalip. P

Inclusive Language: I use the pronouns he/him/his. During class introductions, I will note the pronouns I use. In introducing themselves to the class, students may choose to indicate the pronouns they use. To create a respectful learning community, my expectation is that all class members will honor others in the class by addressing them with the pronouns they use. 

Catalog Description:
Surveys Finnish-Swedish author Tove Jansson's literary production. Focuses on the imagined world Moominvalley depicted in her novels. Offered: W, even years.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
July 12, 2024 - 5:37 pm