Kjerstin Moody ’98

Alumni and Faculty

Assistant Professor (Chair) in Scandinavian Studies and Assistant Professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies

I completed my Ph.D. (2010) and M.A. (2005) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the Department of Scandinavian Studies with a minor in the Department of Comparative Literature. My area of focus is twentieth-century and contemporary Scandinavian literature, especially poetry, and my dissertation centered on collections of poems by three women poets, looking at varying ways the lyric subject engages with the role of the poet and poetry in and for the world: Edith Södergran’s Septemberlyran (1918), Karin Boye’s För trädets skull (1935), and Eeva-Liisa Manner’s Tämä matka (1956). I contend that particular poems in these collections display a turn towards “thinking poetry”—a poetry that engages the genre itself as a space in which political and social issues of the world can be and are reflected upon, contemplated, and engaged. I have been the grateful recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship (2005–2006) and an American-Scandinavian Fellowship (2007–2008), which allowed me to conduct dissertation-related research at Helsinki University in the Department of Finnish Literature and at Uppsala University in the Department of Literature. The Lois Roth Foundation and the National Finlandia Foundation also graciously supported my graduate work.

My research continues to focus primarily on Scandinavian poetry and poetics. I have recently completed an essay tracing varying employments of the trope of the bird as it relates to senses of nationhood, exile, resistance, and belonging in a selection of Swedish and Finnish poetry, ranging from The Kanteletar (1840) to Johannes Anyuru's Det är bara gudarna som är nya (2003) for the book on “Place” in the four-volume Comparative History of Nordic Literary Cultures. My article "Situating Lukas Moodysson's Vad gör jag här," is forthcoming in a special edition of the journal Scandinavica dedicated to Moodysson's work. Currently I am at work on revisions to an essay on Edith Södergran's poem "Fragment" for the edited volume Nordic Nature Cultures, and an overview of the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer. 

This fall I am teaching our department's introductory course on Scandinavian culture and society, and an advanced-level Swedish course on the place of the child, children's literature, and childhood/coming-of-age in Sweden. This spring I will be offering two new courses: a seminar on Nordic poetry, with a focus on the contemporary period, taught in English translation, as well as a course on Ingmar Bergman, taught in Swedish. Throughout the year I will also be teaching our beginning Swedish language cycle. I enjoy teaching and developing courses that address the many facets, nuances, and complexities of contemporary Scandinavian culture and society. True to the interdisciplinary nature of the field of Scandinavian Studies, my courses consider and question the connections between aesthetics and cultural artifice and the societies and policies that create and cultivate them. I enjoy working with and encouraging students to find the myriad ways that worlds can be opened through the study of foreign languages, cultures, and the humanities.

I graduated from Gustavus in 1998 with a double major in the Departments of Scandinavian Studies and English. Between undertaking and completing my graduate studies, I worked in a number of fields for which studies in the humanities, and world languages, literatures, and cultures prepared me well. This work included a variety of positions in book publishing (at literary, trade, regional, and university presses) in Minnesota and Wisconsin; as an intern at a translation agency in Brooklyn, New York; as a transcriber of an oral history project in Windhoek, Namibia; and as a writer and editor at an environmental NGO in Jokkmokk, Sweden.

Prior to joining the Department of Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus in Fall 2010, I was a visiting instructor in the Scandinavian Program at the University of Illinois (Summer 2009), and taught and assisted with a variety of language and culture courses in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at UW–Madison while a graduate student there. In 2004 I served as a Communications-B Teaching Assistant Fellow in UW-Madison’s Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Program, which continues to inspire and guide me to think of all learning as continual process—something very much at the heart of my classroom every day.


Ph.D., M.A., Scandinavian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison; B.A., Scandinavian Studies and English, Gustavus Adolphus College

Courses Taught


SCA-344 (ST:Nordic Poetry), SWE-102 (Swedish II), and SWE-344 (ST:Ingmar Bergman)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
SWE-101Swedish I62014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2011/FA, and 2010/FA
SWE-102Swedish II52014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, and 2011/SP
SWE-202Intermediate Swedish II42014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, and 2011/SP
SCA-100Scandinavian Life Lab32014/FA, 2012/FA, and 2010/FA
SCA-100Scandinavian Life32014/FA, 2012/FA, and 2010/FA
SWE-201Intermediate Swedish I32013/FA, 2011/FA, and 2010/FA
SWE-301Conversation and Composition: Swedish Short Story22014/FA and 2012/FA
SCA-344ST:Finland22013/SP and 2012/SP
SCA-224Scand Women Writers12013/FA
FTS-100First Term Seminar12011/FA
SCA-117Henrik Ibsen12011/SP