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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Marianne T Stecher
SCAND 445
Seattle Campus

War and Occupation in Northern Europe: History, Fiction, and Memoir

The study of literary representations (fiction, memoirs, and personal narratives) dealing with World War II and the occupation of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 442.

Class description

During World War II the Nordic region was clenched between two mighty belligerent powers: the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. As Finland resisted Soviet aggression from the East, Denmark and Norway suffered military occupation by Nazi Germany. Neutral Sweden avoided the war and occupation by making considerable concessions to the Axis. Juxtaposing the “Eastern” pressure on Finland and the Baltic states with the “Western” pressure on Norway and Denmark, this course explores the wartime fates of Nordic nations by means of testimonies and literature produced by ordinary citizens, resistance fighters, war victims, and fiction writers. Students will read historical scholarship alongside literary texts and memoirs (particularly "auto-fiction") in order to identify ideological, national, and personal perspectives in the narratives. In particular, the course focuses on the political implications and literary representations of “collaboration” and “resistance” during the war.

Student learning goals

To gain a knowledge and understanding of the history of Nordic and Baltic region during World War II.

To develop a vocabulary for the study of war (alliance, collaboration, neutrality, occupation, resistance), as well as a vocabulary of terms for the study of WWII (Allies, Axis, etc.).

To apply analytical tools in discussions of wartime literature, films, and memoirs (application of such key concepts as agency, audience, censorship, propaganda, reception, and rhetoric).

To develop the skills of inquiry-driven research and scholarship.

General method of instruction

Lecture and small-group discussion.

The instruction and organization of the course is driven by inquiry in areas such as the following: the validity of the personal narrative or memoir as a historical account, the interpretation of encoded (allegorical) messages in literature, written under political censorship, the revisionist tendencies of postwar scholarship dealing with the Nordic countries during WWII.

Students will contribute their own lines of inquiry to the course by drawing from the larger questions posed by the instructor.

Recommended preparation

Upper-division students in Humanities and Social Sciences, particularly relevant to students majoring in European or Scandinavian Studies. The course is also most appropriate for Graduate students in Scandinavian Studies.

Class assignments and grading

Ad Hoc W (Writing) credit available for this course. Grades will be based on course participation, integrated writing assignments, and the completion of a research paper. Students will engage in graded and non-graded writing assignments. Writing (W) credit is available for this course. Students are strongly advised to make use of Odegaard Writing & Research Center (depts.washington.edu/owrc) for assistance with the final research paper.

The course grade will be based on the following criteria: 10% Participation in group work, discussions, and “class conference” (5%) 10% Midterm exam 10% Research paper proposal (abstract & bibliography) 50% 10-page research paper (Graduate students: 15-page research paper) 20% 4 response “letters” (graded credit/no credit)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Marianne T Stecher
Date: 02/25/2014