SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 1: Session A (May 21-June 29): Animals, Androids, and Aliens: Non-Human Others in Nordic Literature

TWTh 1-3:30 , Dwinelle 134. Instructor: Zachary Blinkinsop

Units: 4

Have you ever thought that your cell-phone was taking on a life of its own? Maybe you’ve suspected that your dog could understand your every word? Through creative media we can realize such fantasies and imagine the inner-lives of things and animals. In this course we will delve into modern Nordic novels and television but we will also watch two American movies to draw cultural, generic, and aesthetic comparisons. We will familiarize ourselves with concepts from ecocriticism, animal studies, and thing theory to help frame our discussions of the primary texts. Some overarching course questions include: how and why do we portray non-human beings in literature? What does it mean to empathize with them? Why are there so many talking animals in children’s literature? How and why has Nordic folklore about trolls been adapted for modern audiences? To what degree, if at all, should we interpret stories about non-human characters as allegories for contemporary human concerns? Is there a specifically Nordic way of depicting the non-human subject or are these depictions inherently anational? Throughout this course students will hone their interpretative faculties by writing a number of essays. Occasional workshops will introduce students to the standards of academic composition and will encourage students to develop their own voices. All texts and course materials are in English.

Course Texts

  • Johanna Sinisalo’s Troll: A Love Story
  • Aarto Paasilinna’s The Year of the Hare
  • Tove Jansson’s Tales from Moomin Valley
  • Peter Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow
  • Selections from Kerstin Ekman’s Forest of Hours
  • Two episodes from SVT’s Äkta Människor
  • Spike Jonze’s Her
  • Disney’s Bambi

All Reading and 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.

 Prerequisites:  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.

Instructor pending appointment.