Scandinavian Studies and Swedish (SCA, SWE)

Academic Catalog: 2016–2017

  • Glenn Eric Kranking (History), Chairperson
  • Kjerstin Moody (On leave, January and Spring 2017)
  • David Jessup (Visiting, 2016–2017)
  • Ursula Lindqvist

The interdepartmental program in Scandinavian Studies is designed to acquaint students with different aspects of Nordic and Arctic culture and society. In addition to offering a three-year curriculum in Swedish, the program includes regular courses, taught in English that deal with Nordic history, Nordic literature, Nordic cinema, and Nordic theater and drama, 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 Nordic countries. Nearly all student majors and most minors will spend one or two semesters at a Nordic 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 Uppsala University, Mora Folk High School, and Linnaeus University in Växjö. 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 Semester in Sweden Program. Led by Gustavus faculty members, students in this program travel the length of the country and take courses in different disciplines. A listing of the courses taught regularly through this program can be found in the interdisciplinary studies and non-departmental section. The Semester in Sweden Program runs Spring semester of odd years.


9.125 courses in Scandinavian Studies:

  1. Three courses in Swedish above SWE-102, including SWE-301*
  2. Six courses chosen from the Scandinavian Studies listings below, at least one of which must be HIS- 218 or HIS-219. Two courses must be Level III SWE or SCA courses, not including SWE-301 and SCA-300.
  3. SCA-300

Approved courses taken at institutions in Scandinavia may be used to fill these requirements, except SCA-300.

*Swedish is the only Scandinavian language offered at the College. Students wishing to use another Scandinavian language to satisfy the language requirement must have the equivalent of three courses above the 102-level from an American institution or from approved institutions in Scandinavia.


Six courses approved by a departmental advisor. Students may choose one of two paths leading to a minor:

  1. Linguistic competence emphasis: four courses of Swedish language study plus two other courses in Scandinavian Studies (SCA, HIS-218 or HIS-219);
  2. Interdisciplinary, communicative, and analytical emphasis: two courses of Swedish language study plus four other courses in Scandinavian Studies (SCA, HIS-218 or HIS-219).

Swedish Language Courses (SWE)

101,102 Beginning 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, 202 Intermediate 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.

301 Conversation 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 also open to students with the necessary background in Swedish. Prerequisite: SWE-202 or the consent of the instructor. Fall semester.

244, 344 Topics 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: the outsider in Swedish literature, Swedish poetry and music, Ingmar Bergman and his world, and Sweden today and how news media present it. Prerequisite: SWE-301 or consent of instructor. Spring semester.

291, 391 Independent 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)

100 Scandinavian 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 sagas, Scandinavian emigration, the Scandinavian welfare state, Scandinavia and the European Union, and Scandinavian feature films. HIPHI, LARS, Fall semester, even years.

211 Multiculturalism and Ethnic Diversity In Scandinavia (1 course) While the Nordic countries rank among the world’s wealthiest, most educated, and most egalitarian, categories of identity in the Nordic region are shifting dramatically in the new millennium. Ample and important counter-narratives have emerged to prevailing discourses of exceptional and homogenous “Nordic-ness.” This course interrogates historical categories of diversity in a Nordic context, including gender, sex, class, ethnicity, and race, as well as how these categories intersect. We will examine new forms of, and platforms for, diverse ideas and creative expression, including fluid masculinities, digital cultures, new media, and fashion. We will question the terms on which the Nordic region’s indigenous peoples, the Sámi and the Greenlandic Inuit, as well as state- less people such as the Kurds, are brought into Nordic discussions of diversity, citizenship, and agency, and analyze the implications of neo-nationalist and patriarchal discourses that have emerged since the turn of the century. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor. GLOBL, LARS, Fall semester, even years.

224 Scandinavian Women Writers (1 course) Scandinavian women writers currently hold a significant place in the Scandinavian literary canon but their efforts to be granted this ground is ongoing. In this course we will read and analyze works of literature in English translation written by women writers from across the Nordic region of the world. We will focus on the important Modern Breakthrough period of the late 19th century, the dynamic 20th century, and today. We will read literature by women writers including the long-canonized, those recently excavated from history, those writing today; voices from a variety of class, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds; and forms of literature ranging from the traditional to the highly experimental. Our reading and analysis of these writers’ works will help us to understand the ever-shifting places and roles in which Scandinavian women have lived and created. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor and the Comparative Literature minor. LARS, WRITI, Fall semester, odd years.

230 Nordic Theatre and Drama (1 course) The Nordic countries have made formidable contributions to the development of modern drama and theater production worldwide. Two canonical Nordic playwrights, Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, are pioneers of modern drama and their plays continue to be performed the world over. This course examines the legacy of these pioneers in the context of the emergence of modern Nordic theater and drama and acquaints students with a remarkable range of plays by additional celebrated Nordic playwrights from the 18th century to the present day. Additional course materials includes Nordic theater’s role in European modernism, in national and regional identity formation, and in social debates. This course counts towards the Comparative Literature minor. LARS, WRITD Fall semester, even years.

144, 244, 344 Special Topics in Scandinavian Studies (1 course) This course provides indepth study of varied aspects of Scandinavian life and culture. Topics will depend on visiting faculty interests and specializations. Topics included in recent years: representations/realities of Arctic Scandinavia, Nordic poetry, and Finland. Offered occasionally.

250 Scandinavian Crime Fiction (1 course) This course explores the crime fiction genre (literature, television, and film) from the Nordic countries. The course will focus on the political and social critique embedded in crime stories, the values of the societies represented, and the function of the crime fiction genre as a critique of ideologies and institutions. Starting in the 1970s with Sjöwall/Wahlöo and ending in the present day, the class will cover a variety of themes in the Nordic context: Marxism, the welfare state, immigration, the EU and the Third World, feminism, racism, neoliberalism, and global capitalism. It will also introduce students to typically Nordic perspectives on crime prevention and punishment. This course counts towards the Comparative Literature minor. LARS, WRITD, Spring semester, even years.

300 Senior Research Colloquium (.125 course) The senior research colloquium provides an opportunity for the major to explore in depth an issue of special interest in Scandinavian Studies. The colloquium research will be conducted under the direction of the student’s departmental advisor, critiqued by seminar students and department faculty, and presented at the Scandinavian Studies Senior Major Colloquium. Spring semester.

334 Nordic Cinema (1 course) This survey course explores the formidable contributions that the Nordic region has made to world cinema, from the Swedish invasion of Hollywood in the silent film era to Denmark’s recent Dogma 95 movement and beyond. This course instructs students in analyzing films in their Nordic cultural and historical contexts and provides an overview of this regional cinema as art and industry within the European film history. Rather than follow a strict chronological order, this course highlights key moments, topics, and genres. Topics will include the silent Golden Age; auteurs Dreyer, Bergman, Kaurismäki, and von Trier; Dogma 95; women in Nordic film production; the cinema of Native (Greenlandic and Sámi) peoples; the new Nordic avant-garde; and new Nordic horror cinema. All films will be screened in the original language with English subtitles. This course counts towards the Film and Media Studies minor. WRITD, Spring semester, odd years.

360 Nordic Colonialisms and Postcolonial Studies (1 course) The Nordic countries, which since World War II have striven to become model societies of social democracy and egalitarianism, paradoxically have their own substantial histories of colonial enterprise, and current cultural imperial practice, similar to those of other Western European states. This course examines the history of Nordic colonial empire as well as the lasting impact of this legacy on contemporary, democratic Nordic societies. We will explore the role of Nordic empire in societies from West Africa to the Caribbean, North America, the North Atlantic, and South Asia, as well as the indigenous Arctic populations in Greenland and Sápmi. We will further examine the function of colonial relationships in formulating modern ideas about what constitutes “authentic Nordic” culture as well as “foreign” or “exotic” cultures and peoples. In addition to examining different types of colonialism and colonial representation, this course introduces theoretical frameworks for understanding how slavery, Orientalism, cultural imperialism, and many other colonial mechanisms work--and in what forms they remain present today. This course counts towards the Peace Studies minor. GLOBL, HIPHI. Spring semester, even years

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

  • HIS-218 Scandinavia to 1800
  • HIS-219 Scandinavia since 1800
  • Gustavus Semester in Sweden Program—See Interdisciplinary Studies listing.