Scandinavian Studies and Swedish (SCA, SWE)

Academic Catalog 2010–2011

  • Helena Karlsson, Chairperson
  • Kjerstin Moody
  • Glenn Eric Kranking (History)

The interdepartmental program in Scandinavian Studies is designed to acquaint students with different aspects of Scandinavian culture and society. In addition to offering a three-year curriculum in Swedish, the program includes regular courses, taught in English, that deal with Scandinavian history, masterworks in Scandinavian literature, and Scandinavian film, as well as interdisciplinary courses focusing on specific Nordic topics.

The Department of Scandinavian Studies encourages its students to study abroad in one of the Scandinavian countries. Nearly all student majors and most minors will spend one or two semesters at a Scandinavian university or college. Study abroad in the Nordic countries is also recommended for other students who have a more general interest.

Gustavus currently has exchange programs in Sweden with the University of Uppsala, the Mora Folk High School, and the Linnaeus University in Växjö. Close connections exist with the folk high school in Jönköping. In addition, study opportunities can be arranged in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, or Norway for students interested in those countries.

In 2009, the College initiated a Gustavus Semester in Sweden Program. Led by Gustavus faculty members, students in this program will stay at different locations in Sweden and take courses in different disciplines. A listing of the courses taught regularly through this program appears at the end of the section.


Nine courses in Scandinavian Studies including: Three courses in Swedish above SWE-102, including SWE-301, and six courses chosen from the Scandinavian Studies listings below, from advanced language courses, or from approved courses taken at Scandinavian institutions. Majors are required to take at least three Level III courses. (Swedish is the only Scandinavian language offered at the College. Students wishing to use Danish or Norwegian as their language base must have the equivalent of three courses above the 102 level from an American institution or from approved institutions in Denmark and Norway.)


Six courses approved by a departmental adviser. Students may choose one of two paths leading to a minor: a) four courses of Swedish language study plus two other courses in Scandinavian Studies; b) two courses of Swedish language study plus four other courses in Scandinavian Studies.

Swedish Language Courses (SWE)

101,102Beginning Swedish I, II(1 course, 1 course) These two courses introduce students to the Swedish language and important aspects of modern Swedish society. Students learn to speak, read, and write Swedish through pronunciation practice, conversation, and grammar study. Language materials include textbook, short stories, and film. Offered annually.

201, 202Intermediate Swedish I, II(1 course, 1 course) A continuation of SWE-102, these courses are designed to help students strengthen their Swedish conversation skills and improve their writing and reading abilities. Students will read modern Swedish literary texts and will also discuss articles, TV and radio programs, and films about modern Swedish culture. After successful completion of SWE-201, students will qualify for study in Sweden, if desired. Prerequisite: SWE-102 or the consent of the instructor. Offered annually.

301Conversation and Composition: Swedish Short Story(1 course) This combination of beginning literature and advanced language course introduces students to the social and psychological themes expressed by writers of modern Swedish short fiction. In this course, students will further improve their reading, speaking, and writing skills through discussion, grammar and written assignments, and in-class presentations. Required of all Scandinavian Studies majors and minors and also open to students with the necessary background in Swedish. Prerequisite: SWE-202 or the consent of the instructor. Fall semester.

244, 344Topics in Swedish Literature and Culture(1 course) These courses focus on prominent representatives of Swedish culture or selected themes and ideas in Swedish cultural life. Topics included in recent years: Vilhelm Moberg and working class literature, Swedish crime fiction, Swedish women writers, the child in Swedish literature and film, and Sweden today and how news media present it. Prerequisite: SWE-301 or consent of instructor. Spring semester.

291, 391Independent Study(Course value to be determined) Students with an adequate reading knowledge of a Scandinavian language concentrate on one chosen area: language, literature, history, art, etc. Instructor’s permission required. Fall and Spring semesters.

Scandinavian Studies Courses (SCA)

100Scandinavian Life and Culture(1 course) This course will give a survey of the history, literature, art, and philosophies of the Scandinavian peoples. Students will hear lectures on and discuss developments and issues in Scandinavia from the Viking Age to the modern welfare state and will read works of fiction that reflect life and thought in Scandinavia. Sample topics might be: pagan mythology and the Vikings, the Icelandic saga, Scandinavian emigration, the Scandinavian welfare state, Scandinavia and the European Union, and Scandinavian feature films. LARS, HIPHI, Spring semester.

111Multiculturalism and Ethnic Diversity in Scandinavia(1 course) The terms multiculturalism, diversity and pluralism describe the complexity of modern societies. In this course, we apply these terms to Scandinavia. The course aims to challenge the often held view that Scandinavia is ethnically, linguistically and culturally homogenous by presenting texts by and about the indigenous population, other historical minorities and newly immigrated ethnic groups. Apart from learning about different minority cultures within Scandinavia, students will also critically engage theories of multicultural identity as well as questions of racism and discrimination. LARS, NWEST. Spring semester, even years.

115Hans Christian Andersen and His World(1 course) This is a survey of 19th century Scandinavian literature, with Hans Christian Andersen as the pivotal figure. Students will read about romanticism and folk tales and study realism and social reform writers. Andersen and his fairy tales are a transition between these trends. The study of Andersen per se will take about forty percent of the course. Other major authors are the dramatists Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg and the novelist Selma Lagerlöf. Significant women writers are included, and the role of women in Scandinavia is an important course theme. LARS, WRITI, offered occasionally.

117Henrik Ibsen and Norwegian Literature(1 course) Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) is as dominant a cultural figure in Norway as William Shakespeare is in England. In this course, we will examine why Ibsen has been called the most Norwegian of all Norwegian writers, in spite of the fact that most of his famous plays are very international and were actually written during the 25 years he lived abroad. Though Ibsen will play a prominent role in the course, we will study other writers from different periods as well. We will read excerpts from St. Olaf’s Saga by Snorri Sturlasson and some major works by the Nobel Prize winners Sigrid Undset and Knut Hamsun, as well as contemporary novels and short stories. LARS, Spring semester, even years.

234Scandinavian Film(1 course) In this course there will be a historical overview of some of the most important Scandinavian filmmakers of the 20th century: Sjöström, Stiller, Dreyer, and Bergman. The majority of the course will focus on the social significance and artistic merits of some major contemporary films from Scandinavia. Important topics will be literary cinema, transnational cinema, and art film. Students will learn to appreciate the aesthetic particularities of Scandinavian cinema, its difference from Hollywood, and its significance in an increasingly globalized world. WRITD, Spring semester, odd years.

244, 344Special Topics in Scandinavian Studies(1 course) This course provides in-depth study of varied aspects of Scandinavian life and culture. Topics will depend on visiting staff specializations. Offered occasionally.

377August Strindberg(1 course) A hundred years after his death, August Strindberg (1849–1912) is still often called “the most modern of all Scandinavian writers.” A modernizer and innovator he was, a prolific playwright, novelist, poet, and outspoken social critic. He was admired, cursed, condemned, and emulated by his contemporaries, and in every decade since his death new writers call upon the master for inspiration and ideas. In this course, students will become acquainted with Strindberg and his times by reading his major plays and some of his autobiographical and polemical writings and by examining how contemporary Scandinavian writers and filmmakers have been influenced by him. LARS, WRITD, Spring semester, odd years.

The following courses are offered by the Department of History: (see History section for course descriptions)

  • HIS-218Scandinavia to 1800
  • HIS-219Scandinavia since 1800

The following courses are offered through the Gustavus Semester in Sweden Program:

221The Sami: The Indigenous People of the North(1 course) Students will live in Jokkmokk in Swedish Samiland for a major part of this course. In Jokkmokk, they will be in daily contact with Sami students and participate in Sami activities. In early February, they will attend the traditional Sami Winter Fair, a weeklong event that has been held annually since the early 1600s. NWEST, Spring semester.

222People and Politics(1 course) A course on Swedish politics and public policies, taught by Lennart Sacrédeus, member of the Swedish parliament and former member of the EU parliament. Students will examine contemporary political issues in Sweden and the positions vis-à-vis the EU taken by Sweden and the other Nordic counties. The course will have two venues, Mora and Stockholm. While in Mora, students will have classroom instruction and also experience politics and public policy in action on a regional level. The second phase of this course will take place in Stockholm where students will visit the parliament and other governmental and public institutions. SOSCI, Spring semester.

223The Study of Nature/The Natural Environment(1 course) In this course, taught at different locations and with different instructors and lecturers, students will survey Sweden’s achievements in the natural sciences, receive formal instruction in glacial geology—with field research—and study current environmental laws and policies. Daniel Lundberg, who has a doctorate in chemistry from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Uppsala), will introduce students to the academic study of science in Uppsala, a city with major research universities, and present well-known Swedish scientists and their achievements. Linnaeus, Celsius, Scheele, Nobel, Ångström, Arrhenius, and Klein are among the scientists introduced. Mark Johnson, a former professor of geology at Gustavus and currently on the faculty at Göteborg University, will discuss research in his professional field, the earth sciences, focusing on glacial geology. Students will also learn about Swedish laws and public policies aimed at preserving the natural environment. NASP, Spring semester.