Sven H. Rossel, a specialist in Scandinavian and comparative literature, was recruited to the UW Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literature in 1974 to provide leadership for a new Danish program on campus. He was the second faculty member to hold what was the first endowed chair in Danish studies at a U.S. university (see Establishment of the Scandinavian Department). For his many contributions to Danish studies, Rossel was awarded the distinguished Order of the Knighthood of Dannebrog in 1987.
Rossel has published or co-authored nine books in the specific areas of Scandinavian balladry and modern Scandinavian literature, in addition to numerous articles, reviews, and feature articles. He considers among his most important works his dissertation entitled, A History of Scandinavian Literature 1879-1980, as well as a monograph on one of his favorite authors, Johannes V. Jensen.
In 1986, Rossel and Birgitta Steene published Scandinavian Literature in a Transcultural Context, the collected papers from the annual meeting of the International Association of Scandinavian Studies, held for the first time in the U.S. in 1984. With Patricia Conroy, Rossel edited and translated The Diaries of Hans Christian Andersen, published by UW Press in 1990, which was reviewed in both The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Review of Books.
Rossel has received several Danish Ministry of Culture grants for such works as the translation of selected plays by Ludvig Holberg; of Christmas in Scandinavia: An Anthology; and for translation of chapters in Hans Christian Andersen: The Great European. Rossel received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant as the general editor of A History of Scandinavian Literatures, Volumes 1-5, published by the University of Nebraska Press. He is recipient of the Denmark-American Foundation Award, the American-Scandinavian Foundation Award, and is a four-time recipient of the Sven Grundtvig and Axel Olrik Award.