SCANDINAVIAN R5A, Section 2: Ghost Stories in Medieval and Modern Scandinavia

MWF 8-9 , 179 Dwinelle. Instructor: Isobel Boles

Units: 4

This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement. 


This course will examine the various ghosts of Scandinavian narratives and traditions, from draugar, who creep from burial mounds or restlessly roam the sea, to spirits bound to haunt inhabited dwellings. We will move from otherworldly encounters in excerpts from medieval sagas and poems, to instances of ghostly figures in preserved folklore. The second portion of the course will focus on the ghosts of modern literature, symbolic, gothic, or otherwise, in works of Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Karen Blixen, and Selma Lagerlöf. We will end with a look at trends in contemporary fiction involving ghosts as characters or narrators, including links between spirits of the departed and the genre of crime fiction.

Students will work on developing their critical reading and writing skills by analyzing central themes and questions. We will explore what is unique and universal in the Scandinavian ghost; the degree to which horror and the uncanny are combined with comfort, memory, and connections to family and the past in these figures; and the types of places and circumstances that are likely to give rise to ghosts or ghost stories.


 Course Reader and readings on bCourses

The Treasure, (Herr Arnes Penningar) by Selma Lagerlöf. 978-1406934878

The Elements of Style, 4th Edition by William Strunk Jr & E B White. 978-0205309023

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.