SCANDINAVIAN 115: Scandinavian 115: Construction and De(con)struction of the Individual: Ibsen and Strindberg

TuTh 2-3:30 , Dwinelle 209. Instructor: Ulf Olsson

Units: 4

Effective January 28, this class will meet in Dwinelle 209.

L&S Breadth: Arts & Literature

The individual seems to come alive in nineteenth-century literature, but one can venture to question if this individual was real, or actually an invention produced by literature: a fantasy of a mature and enlightened, responsible but also sensitive man. But his – since he was of the masculine sex – sovereignty would be challenged when women, too, demanded the same rights and privileges as their male partners. The plays of Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg provide a concentrated form of a complex historical situation, with the enlightened bourgeois individual called forth, only to become disarmed, and eventually even dissolved into fragments of language. The course is based on close readings of different plays, but includes also a few works of prose, video clips of actual performances, as well as guest lectures, and, if possible, attendance at a theatre performance. Course readings include theoretical texts on the individual and the subject, as well as texts on drama and the role of literature for the understanding of society. These texts will be on bCourse. Students should purchase the translations of Ibsen and Strindberg listed on the syllabus. These are the correct editions for the course.

Course Requirements:
This is a discussion-oriented course in which your individual reaction to the readings and weekly topics matters. You will be expected to read thoughtfully and thoroughly, prepare questions and comments, and participate in discussion. The grading breakdown will be as follows:
Attendance and Participation    10%
short written responses               10%
class presentations                       20%
Midterm                                          25%
Final                                                 35%

Attendance and Participation: 50% of this grade will be determined from attendance. The other half will be assessed on your contributions to discussions in class or on the bCourse website.

Short written responses: During the course of the semester you will be asked to respond to questions or analyze texts in a 1-2 page format. These will be based on issues raised in class. Close attention to detail in texts will be important.

Class presentations: Toward the end of the semester you will present a work of your choice to the class. This can take many forms, depending on your interests. You might perform a scene from one of Ibsen’s or Strindberg’s plays with a fellow student or students, film a scene from a play (then show it with commentary to the class), design a set or costume for a play, compose a musical setting and perform it, choreograph a dance piece and perform it, write an analytical paper and present your views/paper to the class, et cetera. You must tell me what form your presentation will take by the sixth week of class (by February 28). Presentations will begin the week after spring break.

Midterm: An exam consisting of short I.D.s and essays to be held during class on March 12.

Final: Students will complete a take-home final to be submitted Tuesday, May 12th, by 5pm. The format for the final will be announced in class in advance.