God jul allihopa! Bright holiday greetings to you from the UW Swedish Studies program!
We’ve been busy in the Swedish Program here at the University of Washington.
I wrote last year that we’d be hosting Jonas Hassen Khemiri, a luminary of the Swedish literary scene, in the department in November 2022. Happily, his whirlwind visit was a great success. Khemiri spoke to 100 students in our large lecture course, SCAND 100: Introduction to Scandinavia, about the Swedish authors who inspired him. That evening he delivered a lively public lecture on Swedish literature to a full house. The next morning, Khemiri spoke to our first and second-year Swedish language students, in Swedish. Karin Filipsson, who teaches second-year Swedish courses reported that the students loved it. One student called it, “the experience of a lifetime” to be able to practice their Swedish in conversation with Khemiri. Another remarked that the event provided a unique boost of confidence to their language proficiency. “It is amazing to be able to speak Swedish to an acclaimed author after only 1.5 years of study!” they said. Karin, who is a PhD student in the department and writing her dissertation on contemporary Swedish literature, also led an in-depth conversation with Khemiri for our departmental podcast, Crossing North, which you can find here. I highly recommend it!
It’s immensely gratifying for the department to be able to host these events for faculty, students, and the broader community. Please consider joining our department’s community list-serv, the Snowball (click HERE to join) to keep apprised of all we have going on. We hope to see you at an upcoming event!
This year we also welcomed Caroline Brekken to the department. A new MA student, Caroline is also doing a fantastic job teaching our first-year Swedish courses. In October, Caroline and I represented the department and the University of Washington the ASTRA symposium at House of Sweden in Washington DC. ASTRA (Association for Teachers and Researchers in North America) is a non-profit organization for researchers and teachers involved in Swedish language, linguistics, literature, culture, and area studies. The organization promotes the study of Swedish, Sweden, and other Swedish speaking contexts at all levels, and works to facilitate cooperation between scholars engaged in these fields. This year’s symposium focused on Swedish history because 2023 commemorates 500 years since the consolidation of Sweden by Gustav Vasa. In addition to sessions on practical strategies for incorporating Swedish history into our language teaching, we heard colleagues like Mark Safstrom from Augustana College talk about his research on Swedish-American History, and experienced a delightful keynote presentation from professors and historians Lars Trägårdh and Henrik Berggren about the new history of Sweden book they’re currently writing. Their presentation brought to light several other historical figures besides Gustav Vasa Sweden who could also be considered responsible for Sweden being what it is today. Trädgårdh and Berggren visited Seattle and the department last year and I’m hopeful that we can bring them back once again when the new book is published!
Until very recently, ASTRA has received strong financial support from the Swedish Institute, a public agency under the Swedish Foreign Ministry that is charged with promoting interest and trust in Sweden. I’m sorry to report that due to institutional reorganization and budget cuts at SI, ASTRA will no longer be funded in the same way in the future. I’m currently working with other members of the organization to find alternate solutions to keep this valuable network operating for years to come.
On a more cheerful note, I’m thrilled to share that my recent translation of Swedish author Karin Boye’s 1934 novel Crisis, has gone a little viral thanks to the fact that Boye’s novel was featured in season two of the Swedish television series Young Royals. What a thrill to see young fans of the show also embrace this canonical author!
Thank you for your continued financial support that will ensure that our students have a strong program full of opportunities to explore Swedish language and culture. Stort tack!
May your holidays and new year be peaceful.
Med vänliga vinterhälsningar,
Assistant Professor and Barbro Osher Endowed Chair of Swedish Studies