SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 3: The Danish Golden Age

TuTh 8-9:30 , 105 Dwinelle. Instructor: Troy Wellington Smith

Units: 4

This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

The Danish Golden Age (ca. 1800–1850) was a time of great advancements in the arts and sciences. It was in this period that Hans Christian Andersen penned his fairytales and Søren Kierkegaard composed his literary-philosophical masterpieces.

Although Andersen and Kierkegaard are the two Danes responsible for bringing the Danish Golden Age to the attention of a global audience, there were many others active during this time who are still important figures in Denmark today. We will be studying several of them (and their works in English translation), including Thomasine Gyllembourg, who charmed readers with her short stories; Johan Ludvig Heiberg, who introduced the thought of the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel to Denmark; Johanne Luise Heiberg, who enthralled Danish audiences with her acting; Johan Thomas Lundbye, who captured the romantic Danish landscape in his paintings; and Hans Christian Ørsted, who discovered electromagnetism.

The foundation for much of this activity was an absolute monarchy that restricted political speech, and an infusion of imperial wealth, such as that from the slave-holding colonies of the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands). In this course, we will thus not only examine the exemplary artistic and scholarly works of the Danish Golden Age; we will also pay careful attention to the social and political conditions which oftentimes informed the shape that these works took, even when the harsher realities were studiously ignored.

Students enrolled in this course will write their own original academic research papers on a chosen aspect of the Danish Golden Age. The instructor will guide them through brainstorming a topic, locating secondary literature in English, analyzing sources, crafting a thesis, and refining their argument and prose style through a series of drafts.

Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories. ISBN: 978-0385189514
Søren Kierkegaard, The Seducer’s Diary. ISBN-13: 978-0691158419

Course reader

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.