Norwegian Program Holiday Letter

Submitted by Stacey Breitberg on

God jul og godt nyttår!

Dear friends, students, alumni, and supporters of UW Norwegian,

The time has come, once again, to send warm greetings in a colder season, as well as best wishes for the new year.

The Norwegian program at UW is small but mighty. This academic year, graduate students Elizabeth Stang and Thea Lund are teaching first and second year Norwegian, respectively, while the advanced courses will be taught by Associate Professor Olivia Gunn and Affiliate Associate Professor Katherine Hanson. Elizabeth notes the diverse motivations and "shared enthusiasm amongst first year students". Thea, who is teaching Norwegian at the university level for the first time this year, reports that our undergrads show “inspiring […] effort and commitment.” She writes, “Many of my students have expressed a desire to study or live in Norway one day, and I can see each one of them accomplishing that goal: these students are fantastic, rett og slett!

In autumn quarter’s advanced Norwegian offering, “The Norwegian Short Story,” we are plot-mapping new and classic texts and learning about authors’ perspectives on the art of writing. We are rediscovering how a short text can contain multitudes, helping us to understand both Norwegian culture and the human experience. Olivia is particularly proud of those students who continue on to the third year, taking on the challenge of fluency, advanced literacy, and greater comprehension.

This autumn, Olivia took on the role of GPC, or Graduate Program Coordinator. It’s going to be a challenge to fill the shoes of Professor Marianne Stecher-Hansen, who has served in this role for some time. Olivia really enjoys working with current and prospective students, hearing about their professional and intellectual interests and goals.

Our current graduate cohort in Norwegian studies is particularly robust, with students making progress to the MA or PhD degree at various stages, from the first year of the master’s program to preparing for the PhC examinations. Just this week in our methods course, we considered some scholarly approaches to adaptation, reading Henrik Ibsen’s tragicomedy Hedda Gabler (1890) and Vigdis Hjorth’s novel adaptation of the same, Henrik Falk (2019). We’ve been puzzling over the purpose and impact of adapting Ibsen for a contemporary Scandinavian readership while laughing out loud at the darkly comedic aspects of each work. First year MA student Erik Moe emphasizes both how much he’s been reading and how much he feels he’s grown in just a few months in the department. Erik is “excited to continue this journey moving forward.”

In addition to the day-to-day work of teaching and learning, we continue to engage in research projects and to develop partnerships, both locally and in Norway. This past summer, Olivia served as second opponent on a dissertation defense at NTNU, which was both a challenge and an honor. Her translation of playwright Camara Lundestad Joof’s book, I Talk about It All the Time, will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in June 2024. This translation project first emerged from undergraduate curriculum development and teaching. It is a sign of the ways in which our research, teaching, and professional relationships are positively entwined and mutually sustaining.

As you make your year-end gifts, please consider a gift to the Friends of Scandinavian Languages & Literature Fund found HERE. Your support allows us to continue serving students and growing Norwegian studies in the United States.

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

The Norwegian Program at UW

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