After Honor: From Egil Skallagrimsson to Karl Ove Knausgaard

A lecture by Per Thomas Andersen, University of Oslo, and current Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley.

The old Norse culture was an extreme honor culture, as depicted in the Icelandic sagas. Today, however, Western honor culture is impaired. The reasons might be of several kinds. One could emphasize the individualization of Western cultural values. In a historical perspective one could point to the fact that the two World Wars totally discharged any credible honor culture in the Western world because of the nature of modern warfare. In the late modern welfare states, honor culture has been replaced by what one could call equality-focused culture in which social and political equal rights dominate the hierarchy of values. Beyond doubt one could say that the cultural clash between intact honor cultures and cultures “after honor” represent one of the most serious conflicts in contemporary societies. The lecture will point to some stages in the historical development from honor culture to late modern welfare state, as depicted in Norwegian literature.

Reception to follow.

With questions, contact or (510) 642-4484.