SCANDINAVIAN 106: The Works of Hans Christian Andersen

TuTh 12:30-2 , Barrows 170. Instructor: Sarah Eriksen

Units: 4

L&S Breadth: Arts & Literature

One of the most translated authors in history, Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is primarily known as a writer of children’s fairytales. Yet his works, which include novels, travelogues, short stories, diaries, poems, and plays, are complex both in terms of genre and intended audience. Andersen’s unique authorship raises psychological and social questions of identity and belonging, reflecting nineteenth-century concerns while continuing to resonate with global audiences today.

In this course we will investigate authorship and death, writing and sexuality, religion and philosophy, and politics and ideology. In particular, we will pay attention to Andersen as a “visual” writer who used and reused material reality in his works and anthropomorphized everyday “things” to reflect the workings of human agency. Andersen’s seismographic sensibility to the physical world resonated far beyond the period in which he lived (Romanticism/Realism) and extended backwards to the Enlightenment and forward to Surrealism. He was an enthusiastic believer in various modern technologies and frequently imagined future modes of transport and communication. He also produced sketches and paper-cuts and posed for numerous portraits (sculptures, paintings, photographs, etc.). In addition to examining his writings and artworks, we will also investigate Andersen’s reception in popular culture: film versions, for example, of his life and his works.

This course consists of lectures and class discussion as well as short group discussions at various points during the semester. The focus of your preparation for each session will be reading and analyzing the assigned texts and supplemental materials, which will then be contextualized and discussed in class. Information provided in class lectures will form the basis of the midterms and final exam, so class attendance and participation is essential.

Prerequisites: None. All readings in English.