SCANDINAVIAN 250: Graduate Seminar in Scandinavian Literature: Nocturnal Imaginings

F 1-4 , Dwinelle 6415. Instructor: Karin Sanders

Units: 4

The night brings darkness, but also immersion into a new reality. The geographical location of the north is often associated with darkness (in spite of the abundance of summer light). The nocturnal is simultaneously a given (it comes ‘very night’) and historically contingent in terms of the meanings we give to it. In medieval saga texts, nights are full of dreamscapes that can become prophecies, after the Enlightenment’s calls for lucidity (let there be light!), Romanticism favoring dusk and darkness as a space for transformations and imaginings. During modernism nights are often sexualized or associated with city nightlife and in present day various noirs of Nordic cultural production are noted in crime fiction. In this course we will investigate how the nocturnal as a conceptual metaphor is embodied with mystical, magical or mythical powers. We will look at the night both as a place and time of renewal and of restoration, but also of endings (death)—or of sleeplessness and potential madness. How then do nights and nocturnal imaginings raise questions of an aesthetic, philosophical or psychological nature? And how does this help us parse the time of “day,” we long for–or fear.