From contemporary crime novels and TV thrillers, to vampire stories, to Vikings and trolls, to early twentieth century gothic tales, Scandinavian literatures are full of exciting avenues for scholarly exploration. This survey course focuses (broadly) on the achievements of major Scandinavian writers and filmmakers from 1850 to today. Such a range is, to be sure, very difficult to cover in eight short weeks. And we won’t try to cover all the tributaries and pockets of a vast and rich literary history-let this course spark your interest. As much as it’s possible we will favor the thematic over the chronological. That is, while we will look a literary development as it charted (and continues to chart) a linear trajectory in terms of historically relevant movements and periods, I hope we can also come to some instructive conclusions by looking at the ways particular topics are rendered across genre and form and time. This thematic investigation will be focused on issues of madness, murder, and myth. As such, our reading (and viewing) will investigate a broad range of Scandinavian cultural aspects, historical and contemporary, in order to offer a representative sample of Scandinavian literature. Undoubtedly, these methods will uncover new and exciting thematic frameworks, and I encourage you all to pursue these as they develop. Above all, this course will treat the study of literature as a dynamic activity. And I expect each of you to be committed to this idea.
All texts assigned will be in English, and any previous knowledge of Scandinavian culture or languages is not expected. Significant emphasis will be placed on acquiring and practicing skills of critical, close reading as well as on the development of good academic writing. This course satisfies the General Education requirement for a Literature and the Arts course.
Questions should be directed to Germanic@illinois.edu