SCAND 312 A: Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature

Winter 2024
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm / SMI 305
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
GLITS 311 A , C LIT 320 B
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Winter 2024 - SCAN 312A/CLIT 320B/GLITS 311A  (5 credits, A&H, plus W Credit):

SCAND 312: Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature

joint-listed, CLIT 320B: Studies in European Literature; GLITS 311A: Literature Across Times

Tu/Thu 12.30 – 2:20pm, 305 Smith

Marianne Stecher-Hansen, Professor: [Mailbox: Raitt 318]

Office hours: Thurs. 3:00 – 5:00pm [Raitt 305Z] or by appointment

Ian Gwin, Teaching Assistant:

Writing Passions - Narrating a Self  

Who am I? What story do I tell?  How does a text narrate a "self" into existence?  What are the passions that drive the narrative impulse?  What does literature teach us about love and other passions? What's an 'unreliable narrator' in a work of literary fiction? Why are 'crimes of passion' often the subject matter of great literature?    Is the first-person narrative really a literature of self-defense?   This quarter we will study a selection of Masterpieces of  Nordic literature which ask these kinds of questions.   We will read literary fiction that blurs the lines between the author/writer, the narrator/story-teller  and between "facts" and "fiction."

 During the Winter quarter 2024, our course in "Masterpieces of Scandinavian literature" will investigate several canonical texts that "narrate a Self" and tell life stories.    We will also consider various literary genres and read works from the five the Nordic countries: including Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Swedish texts in English translations.

Student Learning Objectives:

  1. Practice the skill of daily “deep reading” (i.e. 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading of hard copy text – ideally, without electronic devices present; highlighting with pen or pencil…)
  2. Gain an understanding of literary studies in a wide context, including knowledge of various Nordic authors, historical and national contexts, and literary modes..
  3. Exercise the tools of text analysis and improve critical writing skills to address topics in the arts, culture, literature, and society.
  4. Acquire knowledge in order to identify genres (the fairy tale, the novel, the memoir... etc) and forms of narration.

Evaluation criteria:  Grades will be based on course participation (in-person/online), contributions to in-person/online discussions, two “critical response” papers and term paper on an approved topic.   Note that W (Writing) credit is awarded for the successful completion of this course.  The course writing component includes a sequence of low-stakes (informal online discussions) and higher stakes writing tasks.   The course grade will be based on the following assignments, submitted online:

40%    Two short critical response papers  (3 pages each; 750 words)

10%    topic proposal and title for term paper (1 page; 250 words).

40%    Final paper (6 – 7 pages: 1,500 – 1,750 words total);“peer-reviewed” online; revision submitted.

10%    Regular participation and online Discussions (5%); concluding class conference [in-person] (5%)

Preparation: Class meetings will be a combination of lecture and discussion.  Please come prepared (see “deep reading” under Student Learning Goals) with questions and observations relating to the assigned text for that meeting.   All lecture outlines and slides will be posted on Canvas under “Modules.”   Online discussions will be posted every other week on Canvas, under “Discussions.”

Paper format: All papers should be double-spaced; 1 inch margins; 12 point font and submitted on Canvas (in Word or pdf format); the document uploaded must include the name of the student  (See below UW policy on plagiarism).

Required editions and translations (4 paperback books to purchase at U Bookstore):

**These shorter selections are posted on Canvas under “Modules.”

  • Hans Christian Andersen, "The Collar" "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "Two Maidens," and "The Pen and Ink-jar" and "The Little Mermaid."
  • Knut Hamsun, Pan - from the Papers of Lt. Glahn. (Penguin books)
  • Hjalmar Soderberg, Doctor Glas. 
  • Aino Kallas, "Wolf's Bride."**
  • Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), selection from Out of Africa**
  • Par Lagerkvist, The Dwarf.
  • Tove Ditlevsen, The Copenhagen Trilogy

Please stay up to date with UW Covid policies:

Religious Accommodations Policy: “Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Links to an external site.. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form ( Links to an external site..”

Reading Schedule/Class meetings: Winter 2024

Week #1: Introduction

Thu Jan. 4:  Course Introduction/Assignments/Policies;

Reading (in-class): H.C. Andersen, "The Collar"

  1. Telling tales and Masking Selves? 

Week #2: H.C. Andersen and “thing-fairy-tales” and “The Little Mermaid”

Tu Jan. 9:  Read: H.C. Andersen, "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "Two Maidens," and "The Pen and Ink-jar"

Th Jan. 11: Read: H.C. Andersen, "The Little Mermaid."

Participation: Online discussion #1 (about Andersen)


Week #3 : Aino Kallas, “Wolf’s Bride” – Shape-shifting and forbidden desires

(Mon. Jan. 15 is MLK day - no classes at UW)

Tu Jan. 16: Read: “Wolf’s Bride” pp. 161 - 190 ( parts 1 - 6)

Th Jan. 18: Read: “Wolf’s Bride” pp. 190 - 219 (parts 7 - 11)

Sunday. Jan. 21 (by midnight) DUE:  Critical response paper #1 (see prompts in Assignments)


II. Diary Novels and “Unreliable Narrators” – Crimes of Passion?

Week #4:  Hjalmar Soderberg, Doctor Glas (1905)

Tu Jan. 23:  Doctor Glas, pp. 13 – 85.

Thu Jan. 25: Doctor Glas, pp. 85 – 150.

Participation: Online discussion #2 (about Kallas or Soderberg)


Week #5: Knut Hamsun’s Pan- From Lt. Glahn’s Papers (1894)

Tu Jan. 30: Pan, pp. 3 - 65

Thu Feb. 1: Pan, pp. 65 – 126.  


Weeks # 6 Par Lagerkvist, The Dwarf (1945)

Tu Feb. 6:  The Dwarf, pp. 5 - 71.

Thu Feb. 8: The Dwarf, pp. 72 – 157.

Participation: Online discussion #3 (on Hamsun and/or Lagerkvist)

DUE Sunday Feb. 11th  (by midnight): Critical Response paper #2 (see prompts)


Week #7: from Par Lagerkvist, The Dwarf  to Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

Tu Feb. 13:  The Dwarf, pp. 157 - 228

Thu Feb. 15: Introducing Isak Dinesen.   "The Sailor Boy's Tale" (1942) and "The Blank Page."

DUE Sun. Feb. 18:  Paper proposal and title (President’s Day is Monday, Feb. 19th)


III. (Women) telling life stories – Literary fiction, Memoir, or Autofictional Narration?

Week #8  Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) –

Tu Feb. 20: Dinesen, introduction to Out of Africa (“The Ngong Farm” [1937]) and “Barua A Soldani” [1961]

Thu Feb. 22: READ: Isak Dinesen, "Babette's Feast" (on canvas); viewing of "Babette's Feast" (in class/on canvas)


Week #9:  Tove Ditlevsen, The Copenhagen Trilogy -  Memoir or Confessional Auto-fiction?

Tu Feb. 27:  READ: Ditlevsen, Childhood, pp. 3 - 99.

Th: Feb. 29: Ditlevsen, Youth, pp. 103 - 163.

Participation: online discussion #4 (Dinesen or Ditlevsen)


Weeks #10:  Conclusions:

Tu March 5: Read:  Ditlevsen, Youth, pp. 164 - 224.

Th March 7 (last day of class) – “Class conference” (oral presentations in peer-groups).


Final’s Week #11: Findings - Revisions

Mon, March 11 (first draft of paper due)

Participation: Peer-reviews of final papers (2), per assignment.

Thu March 14  - Final papers DUE (by noon).

Catalog Description:
Major works of Scandinavian literature by selected authors.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
July 12, 2024 - 4:24 pm