Culture Courses

Scndvst 192 First Year Seminar

Trolls, Gnomes and Goblins – Scandinavian Folkbelief and Legend

This course has been designed to familiarize you with the richness and variety of traditional Scandinavian myths and legends and the imprint they have made on Scandinavian culture. We will analyze and discuss tales and legends, and the creatures that inhabit them, and see what they tell us about Scandinavian society and culture – past and present. We will also include activities that help you make connections, develop your study skills, and enhance your experience here at UWM.

 Sample Syllabus

Scndvst / German 115 – Seminar on Advanced Topics in Scandinavian Society and Culture

Vikings and Violence

When we think of the Vikings, we think of tall, blond men who plundered other lands, fighting fiercely and ruthlessly. This is not necessarily untrue, but it’s not the whole picture. In this course we will “explore” why the Vikings developed in Scandinavia, their culture, traditions and society, and their impact on the world, then and today. We will learn about the Vikings by playing their games, learning about their food, language and weapons.

 Sample Syllabus

Naked Emperors and Ugly Ducklings

H C Andersen is a wonderful entertaining storyteller and his fairytales have been read and told to children all over the world for almost two centuries. However, are they really children’s literature? Throughout this course we will attempt to look at Andersen’s fairytales from an adult perspective and we will discuss the given texts in a bibliographic, social and artistic context. Andersen is in fact not a sweet, sentimentally naïve, and childlike storyteller. His stories explore the human soul and deal with its complexity – Do not expect simplicity, but quite the opposite.

 Sample Syllabus

Norse Mythology

Although the worship of Scandinavian Gods ended more than a thousand years ago, they are still present in the world today. We make daily references to them in place-names, the days of the week. The stories show a firm belief system, and code of honor. are written with grim humor and a dark thread of tragedy. They display “a spirit of victory, superior to brute force, superior to mere matter, a spirit that fights and overcomes” (Kauffmann). They tell us about the creation of cosmos, its destruction and rebirth. But most of all they tell us about the eternal struggle between two groups of beings – one that tries to keep the order in the universe – and one that tries to disturb it.

Sexuality in Scandinavia

The Scandinavian countries have long been known for their progressive stance to sexuality, body, and gender. In this course we will explore and discuss the facts and fictions about Scandinavian “Sin” through Fairytales, literature and film – as well as place it in a socio-political background and context within the ongoing flux of the Nordic welfare state model. We will also examine the attitudes and legislation towards prostitution and human trafficking.

 Sample Syllabus

Contemporary Scandinavian Film

The Scandinavian culture is rapidly changing, and thus presents an ideal focal point for relevant study of globalization, multiculturalism, cultural identity, international relations, and innovations in literature, film and art. Study of the Nordic region at the intersection of cultural heritage and contemporary realities provides the unique opportunity to stretch ourselves beyond the known, and to acquire skills of critical inquiry, and cross-cultural literacy that can be applied to life and work in our socially, culturally and politically interdependent world.

 Sample Syllabus

Crimes and Criminals in the North

In recent years there has been a veritable flood of Crime Fiction and film coming out of Scandinavia onto the international market – culminating in the success of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millennium Trilogy. Scandinavian crime fiction is of course not only an international success, but immensely popular in the region itself, a comparatively “low crime” environment interestingly enough. So why is it important to look at crime fiction to learn about culture? The answer would be that the representation of crime in any given culture says a great deal about the values of the society portrayed.

 Sample Syllabus

The Cosmopolitan Character of Scandinavian Theater and Film

This course has been designed to help you become familiar with significant and representative works of dramatic and cinematic literature from Scandinavia, and to allow you to investigate their distinguishing characteristics, as well as searching for clues about the culture it portrays.

 Sample Syllabus