Out of Scandinavia

Artist-in-Residence Program

As one of few colleges in the country that offers Swedish language courses at all levels, a broad selection of Scandinavian Studies courses in English, a Scandinavian Studies major and a minor, Gustavus Adolphus College celebrates its Scandinavian heritage through academics, extracurricular campus activities, and outreach to the community. Our OUT OF SCANDINAVIA Artist-in-Residence Program is the signature outreach program of the Department of Scandinavian Studies.

The OUT OF SCANDINAVIA Artist-in-Residence Program debuted in 1989 as an educational and cultural opportunity open to both the Gustavus and wider communities. The program’s specific goals are to enhance the College’s academic programs, to foster and develop stronger cultural ties with the Nordic countries, and to showcase Scandinavian art and artists to American audiences.

Gustavus seeks to develop ties with these artists that will last well past their one week-residency. The Folke Bernadotte Library’s commitment to commemorating the participating artists by purchasing a full set of their literary works or films - when the artist is an author of cinematographer - is an ongoing attempt to make the library a major repository of Nordic works is of utmost importance and relevance to the program.

Under the program’s auspices, Gustavus Adolphus College invites a prominent Scandinavian writer or artists to campus for a week of discussions with students, faculty, and non-college audiences. The guest artist also presents a keynote public lecture during his or her visit to the school. A committee selects prominent and internationally renowned artists from the various Nordic countries who represent distinct styles and genres.

Generally, the artists-in-residence meet with the inhabitants of the Swedish House and attend classes in Scandinavian Studies, creative writing, and whatever other fields that might be pertinent to the artist’s focus. Public readings, lectures, and film showings customarily make up a large part of OUT OF SCANDINAVIA WEEK, but each visit is unique in structure and content.

The Gustavus Out of Scandinavia Artist-in-Residence Program is proudly supported by the Marguerite Olson Pratt Out of Scandinavia Artist-in-Residence Program Endowment Fund established by Charlotte (Pratt) '86 and Henrik '88 Nordstrom of Minneapolis, Minnesota in honor of Charlotte's late mother Marguerite, member of the Gustavus Class of 1953, life-long educator, and avid promoter of all things Nordic.


A full list of the participating artists since 1989 and an account of their weeks in-residency is provided below:

1989: Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, a Sami writer, musician, visual artist and social critic. As a Sami artists, he represented a transnational and truly pan-Nordic culture. In 1991, he was the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. In 1994, Valkeapää performed to an estimated audience of two billion people at the opening ceremony of the Lillehammer Olympics in Norway. He also made an appearance in the film Pathfinder for which he composed several joiks. He passed away November 26, 2001.

During his residency at Gustavus during OUT OF SCANDINAVIA week, Valkeapää gave a poetry reading and performed one of his best known joiks, Home, which celebrates the Arctic landscape. He also presented a multimedia lecture and performance in Björling on the Sami people, history, and culture to the audience composed of Gustavus students, faculty, and members of the public.

1990: Herbjørg Wassmo, recipient of the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 1987, is a Norwegian writer from Vesterålen, an island group north of the Arctic Circle. She writes in the genre of the psychological novel and is perhaps best known for her tremendously successful Tora Trilogy which has been translated into 11 languages and sold more than 400,000 copies.

During her anticipated visit to Gustavus, Wassmo presented a public lecture called “Dimensions of Truth” and participated in a panel with Nadia Christensen, the translator of Wassmo’s Dinas Bok, and other local translators on the art of their profession. She also visited classes in the Scandinavian Studies and English Departments to talk about her literary works. Norwegian political scientist Kaare Strom also gave a lecture, “Norway’s Struggle for Independence”.

1991: Ulla-Lena Lundberg, a Finnish writer from Åland, who comes from and represents the minority group of Swede-Finns in Finland. A Nordic Prize Winner, a trained ornithologist, and sociologist, Ulla-Lena embodies the eclectic nature that permeates her writing, having written books on Japan, Africa, and Siberia.

Ulla’s visit to campus was marked by a special meteorological treat: the Halloween Blizzard of 1991: a storm of epic proportions. What a fitting setting for Lundberg’s visit which not only focused on the Swedish minority in Finland but also on Siberia! Lundberg gave two public lectures, one on each topic. She also met with Gustavus Library Associates in Minneapolis. Tua Forsström, an award-winning Finnish poet, who writes in Swedish, also spent a few days on campus visiting classes and reading a few of her poems in conjunction with Lundberg’s public presentation.

1992: Per Olov Enquist, a Swedish writer who lives both in Sweden and Denmark. Enquist is a novelist, dramatist, essayist, and columnist in major newspapers throughout Scandinavia. A recipient of the Nordic Prize, his novels include: The Royal Physician's Visit, Captain Nemo's Library, March of the Musicians, and The Magnetist's Fifth Winter, which has been made into a film. He also co-wrote the screenplay of Pelle the Conqueror.

Two years before the Swedish referendum on joining the European Union, Enquist visited Gustavus and gave a lecture entitled “After the Regatta or Sweden Lost in the House of Europe” which focused on problems of Swedish identity and sovereignty in the context of the EU. He also visited a class on Strindberg and modern Scandinavian drama in the Scandinavian Studies Department, several classes in the English Department, and a Political Science class. Enquist also spent an evening with faculty and students awaiting the results of the presidential election race between Clinton, Bush, and Perot.

1993: No artist was hosted this year.

1994: Lars Löfgren, playwright, poet and former Head of the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm. A 1954 alumnus of Gustavus with a degree in Speech Communications and English, Lars served as the Head of the Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern from 1985 to 1997 and serves as the Lord Chamberlain to His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. Lars has taken part in OUT OF SCANDINAVIA twice: in 1994 and in 2007.

During his 1994 residency at Gustavus, Lars gave a public lectured, “The History of the Royal Dramatic Theater” in conjunction with a showing of Alf Sjöberg’s film Miss Julie. In addition to also attending several Swedish and theater classes on campus, Lars visited the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

1995: Max von Sydow, Swedish and international movie and stage actor. He has acted in over a hundred films and is among Europe’s most renowned screen names. Two of his best known films are The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist.

Max took a break from the three different films he was working on to attend his week long residency at Gustavus Adolphus College. He was on campus during the week of Gustavus Adolphus Day (November 6) and gave a talk in Christ Chapel on the different interpretations of King Gustav II Adolf. In addition to this he gave a public lecture about his career and made a cameo appearance in a class film for a student’s existentialist cinematography class. von Sydow also made an appearance at the American Swedish Institute and answered questions from the audience at Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis after a showing of one of his favorite films, Time is Money.

1996: Theodor Kallifatides, Swedish novelist, dramatist, poet and critic. Born in Greece in 1938, he immigrated to Sweden in 1964. He is the recipient of several prestigious Swedish awards: the Great Novel Prize, the Prize of the Swedish Academy, the Honorary Prize of the City of Stockholm, and the King of Sweden’s Medal. Kallifatides has also served as an adviser to the Swedish Minister of Culture.

During his week at Gustavus, Theodor visited several classes, including a First Term Seminar class named “Images of America”. He also attended dinners with other guests and students, sat a booksigning outside the BookMark, and gave a public lecture called “Waiting for the Barbarians”.

1997: Einar Kárason, Icelandic novelist, poet, screenwriter and storyteller. He sat as chair of the Icelandic Writers’ Union 1988-1992. Many of his countrymen consider him the most popular Icelandic writer of his generation. His novels The Wisdom of Fools (1992) and Where Devil’s Isle Rises, The Isle of Gold and The Promised Land, a trilogy, have all been bestsellers and translated into several languages.

Einar enjoyed quite a busy and diverse week at Gustavus. In addition to visiting classes in the Scandinavian Studies, Geology, History, and English departments, he also gave a public lecture called “Icelandic Storytelling”. A movie based off Einar’s trilogy, called “Devil’s Island”, was shown and the writer worked with several Gustavus professors to give a writing workshop

1998-2000: There was a hiatus in the program during these years.

2001: Linn Ullmann, Norwegian novelist, journalist, and literary critic. She is the daughter of actress/director Liv Ullmann and director Ingmar Bergman. Linn herself acted in several films as a child, including The Emigrants. Her debut novel, Before You Sleep, was lauded with great praise. Her second translated novel, Stella Descending, was released in 2003. She currently writes for the Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet.

During her residency at Gustavus, Linn gave a homily in Christ Chapel and participated in an informal discussion about storytelling open to students and faculty. She also gave a lecture titled “Rhapsody in Blue Books, Boys and Rhythm—They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and was hosted as a featured guest for Gustavus Library Associates’ Author Day.

2002: Ylva Eggehorn, Swedish poet and novelist. Having first published a book of poetry at the age of twelve, Ylva won of the prestigious Evert Taube award for her work with poetry and music. She also won the Swedish Academy's award for the "humanitarian qualities" of her writing, the Gustaf Fröding award, the Karin Boye award, the Karl Vennberg award, and the Johan Olof Wallin award. Eggehor has the great distinction of writing a poem called Innan gryningen (Before the Dawn) which Benny Andersson from the musical group ABBA set to music. This poem was read in Stockholm during the turn of the millenium

Ylva’s stay on campus was noted for her talk in Christ Chapel where she recited and explicated her poem and hymn Inna gryningen, the millennial poem in Sweden. She also gave a public lecture, “Listen to the Unbaptized Blackbird! A language of Hope in a Time of Despair”. Ylva also went to several English classes and led a workshop entitled, “Finding a common language: How do we reconcile intellectual and sensuous language? How do we translate “the inexpressible” of one language into another language?”.

2003: Stewe Claeson, Swedish novelist, translator, critic and educator. Claeson's novel about the Romantic poet Esais Tegnér, Rönndruvan glöder, was in contention for the prestigious Nordic Prize in 2002. He is a sought-after lecturer for his talks on the history and evolution of public education. He is also a noted translator of American poetry into Swedish.

As part of his residency on campus, Stewe gave a lecture called “A School for all People- the Evolution of Popular Education in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.” Being a creative writing instructor in Göteborg, Stewe visited several creative writing classes among other classes in English and Swedish. The author was also the guest at a special FIKA at the Swedish House where he signed copies of his books for students.

2004: No artist was hosted this year

2005: Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Swedish novelist whose first novel Ett Öga Rött, (An Eye Red) quickly became a bestseller in the Nordic countries and whose second novel Montecore was lauded by international critics. Khemiri, who deals with questions of identity and belonging in his writing, is also a successful playwright.

During his first residency at Gustavus, Jonas stayed quite busy. His public lecture, “Creating a New Language” (apropos Montecore, which at the time was finished but not yet published) was well attended on campus. He also attended several creative writing classes and an advanced course in Swedish language. Jonas was the guest of a Meet the Author afternoon with a question and answer session in the International Center, as well as the guest of a special FIKA and film showing at the Swedish House.

2006: Arnaldur Indriðason, popular Icelandic crime fiction writer. Arnaldur is widely considered the most popular author in Iceland; in 2004 his books made up seven of the ten most borrowed titles from the Reykjavik City Library.

During the few days Arnaldur spent in residence at Gustavus, he met with Barbara Fister, the Director of Folke Bernadotte Library and Gustavus’ resident crime fiction writer. He also gave a public lecture on that question that plagues many readers of Scandinavian crime fiction, “How to invent murders in a country where murders are rare”.

2007: Lars Löfgren, playwright, poet and former Head of the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm. A 1954 alumnus of Gustavus with a degree in Speech Communications and English, Lars served as the Head of the Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern from 1985 to 1997 and serves as the Lord Chamberlain to His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. Lars has taken part in OUT OF SCANDINAVIA twice: in 1994 and in 2007.

His second time participating in the OUT OF SCANDINAVIA program, Lars spent much time visiting theatre, film, and literature classes in both the English and Scandinavian Studies Departments. He gave two talks, “Secrets of the Theater” and “Coming and Going”. Lars and his friend Anders Björling also met with Scandinavian Studies students at the Swedish House.

2008-2010: No artists were hosted these years

2011: Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Swedish novelist whose first novel Ett Öga Rött, (An Eye Red) quickly became a bestseller in the Nordic countries and whose second novel Montecore was lauded by international critics. Khemiri, who deals with questions of identity and belonging in his writing, is also a successful playwright; his play Invasion! won the Obie Award for best off-Broadway play in 2009.

A second time guest to campus, Khemiri visited classes in the Scandinavian Studies and Theatre departments in addition to having dinner with students. He gave a lecture with Rachel Willson-Broyles, the translator of Montecore into English, titled “Writing and Translating Montecore”. Khemiri also read excerpts from his plays at the Black Box Theater, which was well attended and packed with students.

2013: Johanna Sinisalo, Finnish novelist whose book Troll: A Love Story won the Finlandia prize.

While on campus, Sinisalo visited classes in Scandinavian Studies and a course in the English department on science fiction. She also gave a talk on campus, in which she defined her work as part of the “Finnish weird” genre.

2014: Arne Dahl, Swedish crime fiction writer and cultural critic who was awarded a special prize by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers in 2007 for his “vitalization and development of the crime genre through his Intercrime series.” The Academy named the first novel in his recent Opcop quartet, Chinese Whispers, the Best Swedish Crime Novel of 2011. While at Gustavus, Arne Dahl visited classes, attended the weekly FIKA at the Swedish House, and gave a keynote lecture, “Why Crime Fiction?”

2015: Aase Berg, award-winning surrealist poet from Sweden, accompanied by her English translator, Johannes Göransson, a poet and Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. The two of them visited classes and engaged with students, and Aase Berg gave a keynote public lecture, “To Lose Control of the Words.”

2016: Sofia Jannok, indigenous Sámi musician and environmental activist from northern Sweden. Jannok has publicly taken a stance against the establishment of mines on land used by Sámi reindeer herders. Her recent single, "We Are Still Here”, adopts a mantra common to indigenous groups around the world, and the song's video features Swedish-Sámi artist Anders Sunna painting a mural of indigenous Sámi faces on a canvas of transparent plastic wound around two trees and set against a snowy Arctic forest teeming with reindeer. Jannok's music is inspired by diverse musical influences including folk, pop, jazz and Sámi joik. She sings and writes songs in Northern Sámi, Swedish and English. During her visit to Gustavus, she visited classes and participated in three free public events: The Department of Music Colloquium; a Teach-In on Indigenous Issues alongside local and regional indigenous activists, scholars and musicians; and an open-air concert in the Linnaeus Arboretum.

2017: Pajtim Statovic, moved from Kosovo to Finland with his family when he was two years old. His debut novel, My Cat Yugoslavia, relates in sensitive and finely tuned prose the inner conflict and questions about one’s identity that immigration, homosexuality, and the past might stir. The novel, published in 2014, received widespread acclaim among critics and readers alike, and Statovci won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize in the category ‘Best Debut’. The awarding jury praised the still only 24-year-old author’s ability to combine the dreamlike with the realistic, and give old symbols new meaning and power. At present, Pajtim Statovci studies comparative literature at the University of Helsinki, and screenwriting at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

2018-19: Dorthe Nors, one of the most original voices of contemporary Danish letters. Her debut short story collection, Karate Chop (2014), won the prestigious P.O. Enquist Literary Prize, and her novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (2016), was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize in 2017. She has published four other novels and a novella, So Much for That Winter (2016). Her latest collection of short stories, Map of Canada (2018), appeared in 2018. Nors’s short stories have appeared in countless publications, including Harper’s MagazineBoston ReviewAGNI, and Guernica. She is the first Danish writer to ever have a story published in The New Yorker.

2020: Program canceled due to the global pandemic.

2021-22: Lawen Mohtadi, Swedish author and an active influencer in social and cultural journalism in Scandinavia. Her best-known work is her acclaimed 2012 biography of the Roma civil rights legend and beloved Swedish children’s author Katarina Taikon (1932-1995), which Mohtadi adapted into a documentary film, Taikon: The Untold Story of a Roma Freedom Fighter, in 2015. An English translation of Mohtadi’s biography, along with a translated selection of Taikon’s famous children’s stories featuring a Romani girl protagonist named Katitzi, was published in 2019 by Sternberg Press (distributed by MIT Press) under the title The Day I Am Free / Katitzi. Mohtadi was interviewed by Ursula Lindqvist on the Gustavus podcast “Learning for Life.”

2023: Jeannette Ehlers, Danish-Trinidadian performance artist based in Copenhagen. Her practice takes shape experimentally across photography, video, installation, sculpture, and performance. Ehlers’ work often evokes decolonial hauntings and disruptions, and she insists on the possibility for empowerment and healing in her art, honoring legacies of resistance in the African diaspora. Her latest major solo installation “Archives in the Tongue: A Litany of Freedoms,” a spiritual and meditative space on Afro-Caribbean relations featuring the mythical figure Moko Jumbie, exhibited in Summer 2022 at Kunsthall Charlottenborg in Denmark to much critical acclaim. Her work is featured in the Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibition “Fragments of Epic Memory” from January-July 2023.