SCANDINAVIAN 75: Nordic Culture and Values

TuTh 2-3:30 , Remote. Instructor: Mark Sandberg

Units: 4

L&S Breadth: Historical Studies or Social & Behavioral Sciences

What are Nordic values? The countries of the northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) have been caricatured in recent political discourse as either utopian or dystopian alternatives to American culture. Are they bastions of happiness and wellness, as touted in the U.N. happiness surveys, or are they the conformist, homogeneous societies where freedom dies, as others would have it? A cultural history of three easily recognized Nordic ideals—sustainable relationships to nature, gender equality, and social solidarity—will show the ways these contemporary Nordic values were shaped by literature, drama, film, folklore, and other forms of humanistic expression from the eighteenth century to the present day. Along the way, the course offers answers to the question: How do the arts and literature reveal the pressure points implicit in Nordic values while also contributing to their formation?

This course emphasizes the acquisition of overview information about Nordic culture, the development of interpretive abilities in encounters with key social-science, historical, and humanistic texts, and the improvement of analytic skills in evaluating key concepts, mindsets, and values in the Nordic region.

Prerequisites: None.
Required for the Scandinavian major.