SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 1: Hans Christian Andersen and the Danish Golden Age

MWF 8-9 , Dwinelle 187. Instructor: Troy Wellington Smith

Units: 4

Although he was celebrated across Europe as a novelist and, later, as an author of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) received a less-than-warm reception in his native Denmark. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (the other figure responsible for bringing the Danish Golden Age to the attention of a global audience), began his authorship with a blistering critique of Andersen’s novels, as he compared them unfavorably to those Steen Steensen Blicher and Thomasine Gyllembourg. Furthermore, Johan Ludvig Heiberg, the leading arbiter of taste in Copenhagen, failed to appreciate Andersen’s work as a playwright. In this course, we will first read Andersen’s Italian novel The Improvisator, and then his Caribbean drama Horatio, whose protagonist is the son of a plantation owner and a slave. For the second half of the semester, we will undertake an extensive study of the fairy tales (e.g., “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Snow Queen”), which Andersen wrote over the course of his long life. In order to contextualize our reading of Andersen throughout the course, we will also consult texts by Kierkegaard, Heiberg, Gyllembourg, and Blicher, among others.


Students enrolled in this course will write two research papers on Andersen and/or the Danish Golden Age. After writing a first draft, each student will receive extensive feedback from their instructor, which the student will then incorporate into their final draft.  In addition to submitting a final draft, each student will be required to give a brief presentation of their findings to their peers and the instructor.


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

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.


Due to the high demand for R&C courses we monitor attendance very carefully. Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes, this includes all enrolled and wait listed students. If you do not attend all classes the first two weeks you may be dropped. If you are attempting to add into this class during weeks 1 and 2 and did not attend the first day, you will be expected to attend all class meetings thereafter and, if space permits, you may be enrolled from the wait list.