Benjamin Bigelow

    Benjamin Bigelow

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Ben’s interest in Scandinavian literature can be traced to a well-worn copy of Knut Hamsun’s Pan that he purchased on a whim at a used book store in Risør, Norway in 2003, which he subsequently devoured on a train ride that same evening. Upon returning to the U.S. and resuming his studies at Brigham Young University, he took as many Scandinavian literature classes as he could, and the following year, began teaching undergraduate Norwegian classes there. In 2010, he completed a master’s thesis that compared the verbal and visual representations of hysteria in Amalie Skram’s novel Professor Hieronimus and in the psychiatric photography of Jean-Martin Charcot. Since joining the Scandinavian Department at Berkeley in 2010, his research interests have continued to encompass both verbal and visual media. In addition to Scandinavian literature seminars, he has taken a number of graduate courses in film history and theory and has written and presented papers on Scandinavian cinema. His dissertation project, entitled “The Life of the Soul: Vitalism and the Invisible in the Norwegian Fin de Siècle” focuses on the literary, cultural, and scientific interest in the “soul” or vital force in 1890s Norway. This project contextualizes three canonical Norwegian authors (Hamsun, Garborg, and Obstfelder) within the post-naturalist, proto-vitalist cultural discourse that they contributed to in the 1890s, and has involved research into the history of psycho-physiology, parapsychology, spiritualism, and popular astronomy at the turn of the century.