SCANDINAVIAN 115: Contemporary Film and Television in the Global North

TuTh 12:30-2 , 188 Dwinelle. Instructor: Mark Sandberg

Units: 4

L&S Breadth:  Arts & Literature
Cross-listed with Film 160, Section 2.

Recent film and television production in the Nordic countries has reached a new global audience outside the art-film circuit that historically has been the more typical Nordic outlet to international markets. Successful branding of content as “Nordic Noir,” for example, has allowed more mainstream circulation of film and television than the earlier niche appeals of Dogme 95 or the art films of Bergman and Dreyer, or even the “Swedish New Wave” of the 1960s. How have contemporary Nordic films and television series (in both Nordic Noir and other modes) created these new forms of appeal? To what degree do they form an alternative to the contemporary American practices of film and television production, and as a consequence, what do current Nordic film and television productions tell us about today’s cultural configurations in the global North?

This course takes the idea of “interface” as its organizing principle: the border zones between cultures, between media, and between genres that produce different versions of the same material or theme. The course looks at this version-making activity diagnostically in order to answer questions such as: why must successful Nordic film and TV series be remade in English (and how are American and British audiences different in this regard)? What happens when a similar theme is taken up in turn by film and television—how does the medium alter the storytelling or extend the idea?  How do contemporary Nordic narrative film and television draw on various recognizable genres to produce something new?

Examples investigated will include contemporary films and sample episodes of television series from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Great Britain, and the U.S.

Texts and films:  to be announced.

Prerequisites:  None.