SCANDINAVIAN 116: Studies in Prose: The Works of Isak Dinesen

TuTh 11-12:30 , 2070 VLSB. Instructor: Karin Sanders

Units: 4

Cross-listed with English 152.
L&S breadth: Arts & Literature

This course will examine the works of the Danish author Karen Blixen (1885-1962) who also wrote under the pen name of Isak Dinesen. Dinesen is often seen as a modern-day Scheherazade, making story telling into a matter of life and death. She famously noted that: “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a good story!” Her writing raises questions on narrative and gender, colonialism and race, animals and ecology. We will examine what Susan Hardy Aiken has called her unique “double textual system” and the “sexual doubleness of her signature.” Dinesen’s split position between two cultures and two languages, Danish and English, and her fictitious use of dual gender roles provide for provocative and challenging reading. A visual artist in her own right, several of Dinesen’s works have made it into film. Besides Out of Africa, we will examine Babette’s Feast and The Immortal Story as well as documentary material from her visit to the USA.
No prerequisites. All readings will be in English and will include Seven Gothic Tales, Out of Africa, Winter’s Tales, Last Tales, Anecdotes of Destiny, and Daguerreotypes, and Other Essays. Secondary readings will be posted on Bcourses