Please write a 2-page (typed, double-spaced with 12-point font and 1” margins) response paper to any of the assigned course materials, except “Hrafnkel’s Saga.” You may generate your own topic (see #10), or you may use one of the following prompts as a starting point. The essay should be submitted to the turnitin.com link on the course website at any point during the quarter.
1. Explain and analyze why H.C. Andersen’s fiction exemplifies the ideals and preoccupations of literary Romanticism.
2. Examine how the “claustrophobic domestic space” incarcerates or otherwise limits the social possibilities of the characters in Ibsen’s A Doll House and/or Strindberg’s The Father. You may want (but are not required) to consider: the implicit and/or explicit societal expectations of traditional familial and gender roles such as womanhood, manhood, motherhood or fatherhood
3. Why is point of view important in the tales of Hans Christian Andersen?
(Points to consider: Whose point of view are we given and how does this perspective affect our interpretation? What role if any do narrative irony and sarcasm play in this? Does the point of view of Andersen’s narrators have any significant or interesting relation to the “outsider” in these tales?)
4. How does Scandinavian literature challenge accepted notions of institutional authority? You may want to consider one or more of the following texts: Jeppe of the Hill; The Emperor’s New Clothes; The Nightingale; Auntie Toothache; A Doll House
(Points to consider: How do these texts raise doubts about the credibility or integrity of authority figures? How is corruption framed in relation to morality? Is there always a moral center in these texts? How does comedy, irony, parody, sarcasm or farce become a subversive mode of expression in these texts?
5. In The Concept of Anxiety, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard writes:
“Anxiety can just as well express itself as muteness as by a scream.”
Explore the expressions, functions and contours of anxiety in any of the following texts: Andersen’s tale The Shadow, Hamsun’s novel Hunger, Munch’s painting The Scream and/or Bergman’s film The Hour of the Wolf. Please be specific and provide examples.
6. Explore the conflict between sensuality and spirituality in Dinesen’s Babette’s Feast. You may want (but are not required) to consider: the symbolism of the feast itself; the role of Christian motifs; contrasting portrayals of Catholicism and Protestantism; the role of art and the artist
7. Much like the course’s organizing framework of “The Outsider in Scandinavian Literature,” Moodysson’s film Together addresses the role of various outsiders in the context of the protest politics of 1970’s Swedish counterculture. Explore how the film grapples with the friction between ideological purity and compromise. You may want (but are not required) to consider: radical feminism and the rejection of the patriarchy; the patriarchal nuclear family versus the utopian collective family; duty to oneself versus duty to others; ideology in theory versus ideology in practice
8. In what ways might Loe’s Naïve.Super be considered a “postmodern” novel? You may want (but are not required) to consider: the defining characteristics of a postmodern sensibility; the relationship between the profound and the superficial; irony, sarcasm, parody and other unstable modes of discourse; collage, juxtaposition and the role of lists and data
9. Address the role of perspective or point-of-view in Lagerkvist’s The Dwarf. You may want (but are not required) to consider: how the narrator’s unreliable, subjective point-of-view affects the novel as a whole; the relationship between narrative instability and existentialism, psychology, expressionism.
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