SCANDINAVIAN 5.03: R5B: Art and Authorship in the Norwegian Fin de siecle: Ibsen, Hamsun, Munch, Session A, May 26 – July 2

M-Th 11-1 , 6415 Dwinelle. Instructor: Ben Bigelow

Units: 4

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 first half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

 Toward the end of the Nineteenth Century, Scandinavian art and literature was in the midst of a major shift in focus and priorities. No longer primarily concerned with the debating of social and political issues, authors and artists of the upcoming generation saw themselves as ushering in a completely new kind of art, one that turned its attention upon the mysterious inner life of the modern human. Unabashedly subjective and psychological in its orientation, this new art focused on the expression of extreme mental and emotional states. This course will examine this literary-historical shift by focusing on three influential Norwegian cultural figures at the end of the century: the playwright Henrik Ibsen, the novelist Knut Hamsun, and the painter Edvard Munch. We will investigate the ways in which these three figures situated their work in relation to one another, and in relation to the artistic and cultural currents of the time.

Selected readings:

Henrik Ibsen:

  • Ghosts (1881)
  • The Wild Duck (1884)
  • The Master Builder (1892)
  • When We Dead Awaken (1899)

Knut Hamsen:

  • Hunger (1890)
  • “From the Unconscious Life of the Soul” (1890)
  • Mysteries (1892)
  • Pan (1894)

Secondary texts:

  • Joan Templeton, Munch’s Ibsen (2008)
  • Sue Prideaux, Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream (2007)

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement. The “A” course requirement (or its equivalent) is the prerequisite for the second half of this two-course sequence. Students may not enroll nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.