SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 1: Animal Consciousness and Shapeshifters

MWF 8-9 , Dwinelle 206. Instructor: TBA

Units: 4

Feral berserks. Ritualistic trances. Forest spirits. These will help focalize our research questions on a variety of philosophical, legal, and literary fronts: how do humans relate to a world of non-human life? Can we glimpse animal consciousness? What are the limits and boundaries of human forms? Who is considered human, anyway? The Nordic region in particular offers several cultures and configurations of trans-humanism that have captivated popular American imagination for centuries. From sacred Sámi tales to remnants of Viking Age myths and from Swedish environmental advocates to a certain famous Danish fairy tale writer, Europe’s northern-most region gives us an opportunity to learn critical reading skills, compositional strategies, and research methods in an unfamiliar and specific field. No previous experience with Scandinavian cultures or languages is necessary or expected, as all of the texts will be in translation.

In this course, we will distinguish primary sources from secondary, scholarly from popular, and define relevant research; these are transferrable skills to any environment, whether academic, corporate, or personal. With the critical writing background from R5A or R1A (the prerequisite for this course), we can focus on making innovative arguments in two main research papers.

Required reading:

  • The Saga of Hrolf Kraki translated by Jesse Byock
  • Becoming Animal by David Abram
  • The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagerlöf
  • The Forest of Hours by Kerstin Ekman

Provided on bCourses

  • Sections of The Prose Edda to be made available on bCourses
  • Sections of Fragments of Lappish Mythology by Lars Levi Laestadius
  • Selections of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales
    • “The Little Mermaid”
    • “The Phoenix Bird”
    • “The Wild Swans”
  • Selections from Kalevala: The Land of the Heroes translated by Kirby – 978-1409925491
    • The first Väinämöinen cycle

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.