Norwegian Program Holiday Letter

Submitted by Stacey Breitberg on

God jul og godt nyttår! Dear friends, students, alumni, and supporters of UW Norwegian,

It is a pleasure for me to write this holiday greeting—there is much to tell of the exciting things afoot in the Norwegian program here at UW!

Our students continue to impress in the classroom as they enrich and diversify their language capabilities. But they have also taken their study of Norwegian beyond UW, as well; several joined the study abroad trip to Sweden last summer led by our colleagues Kim Kraft and Lauren Poyer. Four of our second-year Norwegian language students also continued their study in Norway at the University of Oslo’s International Summer School, where I also had the privilege to teach last summer.

Here in the department, we are excited that graduate student Elizabeth Stang has begun teaching the first-year Norwegian sequence this year. Elizabeth says, “I’ve had a great time teaching Norwegian this fall at the University of Washington. I am enjoying this opportunity to discuss Norway’s language and culture with students who are both hard working and enthusiastic about the material.”

During her sabbatical leave, Olivia will be working on her second book, Future Ghosts: Ibsen, Adaptation, and the Question of Progress. This book explores how Ibsen’s characters express longing for liberation from the past by comparing some of Henrik Ibsen’s nineteenth century originals with twenty-first century adaptations. During the winter, Olivia will be a guest researcher at the Centre for Ibsen Studies at the University of Oslo. While in Oslo, she’ll present her work-in-progress and lead a class or two in their graduate courses. Olivia is also working on some smaller translation and research projects and (just for fun!) taking singing lessons.

For my part I’m thrilled to continue working with second-year Norwegian students and to teach the advanced Norwegian course this fall, where we are working through Zeshan Shakar’s novel Tante Ulrikkes vei, confronting questions of Norwegian identity, especially among Norwegians with backgrounds from outside Norway. It is rewarding to engage vital questions of identity and belonging with students as contemporary Norwegian society continues to grow more and more multi-cultural. This winter, I’m looking forward to again teaching Literatures of the Arctic, a study of circumpolar literary perspectives, which takes its starting point in Arctic Norway.

One of the most exciting new things in the Norwegian program this past year was the launch of a new scholarship in the department, the “Norway in the U.S. Scholarship.” Scholarship recipients spend a week on a micro-internship at the Norwegian Consulate General in San Francisco or the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and get an inside look at the day-to-day reality of diplomatic work. Both of our inaugural scholars had very meaningful experiences. Mason Winchell, who graduated in 2022 with a double-major in Earth and Space Sciences and Scandinavian Studies, spent a week in San Francisco, learning about green energy and business innovation projects the consulate supports. He connected with partners including Statkraft, the Nordic Innovation House, and Innovation Norway. Mason wrote that the internship allowed him to “connect with industry leaders and policy makers in a unique way.” Andy Simmerman, currently a senior majoring in Political Science and Norwegian, spent his week in D.C. He loved spending one-on-one time with members of the diplomatic staff. “I really got a deep dive on many of the different things people at the embassy focus on,” he wrote, gaining a rich perspective of how the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Norway works. We couldn’t be more thrilled by the success of this first year of the Norway in the U.S. Scholarship program. We’re thankful for both of our excellent scholars, the support from the Scandinavian Studies Department, and the wonderful staff in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who helped us get the program off the ground. And we are thankful to you, who support programs like this through your generous gifts. Tusen takk, alle sammen!

These courses, initiatives, and programs are just a glimpse of the goings-in in the Norwegian program as we work with friends and partners both here in the U.S. and in Norway to offer our students a meaningful, relevant, and productive education in Norwegian language and society.  Please consider joining our department’s community list-serv, the Snowball -- JOIN SNOWBALL -- to keep apprised of all we have going on.  We hope to see you at an upcoming event!  As you make your year-end gifts, please consider a gift to the Friends of Scandinavian Languages & Literature Fund found at the link below. Your support allows us to continue to offer exciting programs and opportunities.

Vi ønsker dere alle sammen en riktig god jul og en koselig vintertid!


Andy Meyer

Assistant Teaching Professor of Norwegian

Olivia Noble Gunn

Assistant Professor

Chair, Norwegian Studies