SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 4: Reading and Composition: Strong Women in Swedish Literary Culture

MWF 8-9 , . Instructor: Verena Hoefig

Units: 4

Instructor’s email:

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

In the Global Gender Gap Report 2013, Sweden is named as a world leader in gender equality. The report, drawn up at the initiative of the World Economic Forum, measures equality in the areas of economics, politics, education and health (Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden occupy the first four ranks, while the US is listed on rank 23). This reading and composition class will explore the cultural foundations of strong and influential women in Scandinavia, with a special focus on Swedish literature and women characters who are shown to be either inside or outside the mainstream, and the sphere of economic and political influence. Strong women are found in many works of art in Sweden, most visibly in recent years in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

In this class, we will trace the presence of strong female characters from contemporary novels and movies to classics of female authorship in Sweden, for instance Astrid Lindgren or Selma Lagerlöf, to August Strindberg’s groundbreaking and famous deliberations on women and equality. We will explore the first novel promoting the idea of egalitarian marriage in Sweden from 1839 and learn about a seventeenth century Swedish queen, Christina, who abdicated her throne, converted to Catholicism, moved to Rome, and became a cultural leader. We will read a short text by Sweden’s patron saint, Saint Bridget, who wrote critically about the pope, bishops, and other clergy in the late fourteenth century.  Finally, we will look at strong and influential women in the earliest preserved textual artifacts from the North, such as the sagas, mythological poems, and runic inscriptions.



Course Reader

Larsson, Stieg. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Mass Market Paperback, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0307949486

Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking. Puffin Modern Classics, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-0142402498

Martinson, Moa. Women and Appletrees. The Feminist Press at CUNY, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0935312386


Prerequisites: Successful completion of the first half or “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement. Students may not enroll nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.