Scandinavian Impulses

Previous Series 1: Scandinavian Impulses

Current Series 2: Vengeance and Violence in Scandinavian Life and Culture

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Welcome! Välkommen! Velkommen! Tervetuloa!

The UMass Scandinavian Studies program has received a second grant from the Nordic Council, to continue its Scandinavian Impulses series through 2012-2013.

The first installation of Scandinavian Impulses, instituted in 2010-2011, was a broadly based interdisciplinary series about a variety of experience and issues in Scandinavia, including, literature, film, music, politics, science, and the visual arts.

The new program focuses on the theme "Vengeance and Violence in Scandinavian Life and Culture." The topic is designed to examine possible discursive and ideological parallels between the ancient Norse legal system, in which personal revenge was an accepted form of justice, and contemporary violence, especially that linked to renewed nationalism, neo-paganism, anti-immigration and anti-(European) integration movements. The theme is also reflected in a surge of Scandinavian crime-fiction writing such as Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, which has attracted a worldwide following, and more recently in Nordic film, television, and other cultural expressions.

It is not news that political and social violence has become an increasing problem in Scandinavia in recent decades, including the murderous shooting rampage by Christian fundamentalist at a political youth camp in Norway last summer, violence directed at Danish and Swedish cartoonists depicting Muslims, the assassination of Swedish politicians Olaf Palme and Anna Lindh, church-burnings in Norway by neo-pagan extremists, and other violent acts often directed against immigrants. The problem is both serious and ironic for the region, which seceded from European power struggles more than a century ago and developed reputations for moderation, peace building, and the politics of compromise, producing great diplomats and humanitarians such as Fridtjof Nansen, Trygve Lie, and Dag Hammarskjöld.

The series is interdisciplinary, and calibrated in part to tie in to 2012 and 2013 spring courses in medieval Icelandic Sagas and the contemporary "Mystery, Murder, and Mayhem in Scandinavian Fiction and Film."

Watch for more event announcements on this site! And join us as often as you can. You can also sign up for our occasional e-mail announcements of other Scandinavian-related happenings at UMass.

Dr. Sherrill Harbison
Senior Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies
University of Massachusetts Amherst


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