Marianne T Stecher
This course is an opportunity to study some of the “masterpieces” of Danish writer Karen Blixen (1885 – 1962), who published in English as “Isak Dinesen.” We will read Out of Africa (1938) and selections from Seven Gothic Tales (1934), as well as tales from other collections, such as “Sorrow Acre” and “Babette’s Feast.” A selection of Karen Blixen’s essays will give insight to her views on gender and other significant issues of her day. Finally, we will consider a number of different critical approaches to her work, including feminist and postcolonial theory, as well as eco-criticism and even animal ethics. Students will be encouraged to develop their own observations on the texts in short, non-graded “response letters.”
Student learning goals
To gain further knowledge of the literary work and contributions of Nordic women writers, including Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), in cultural, historical, literary, and critical theory contexts, of the early 20th century.
To develop vocabulary for the study of gender, women, and sexuality in literary fiction and critical theory.
To exercise literary analysis and interpretative skills for discussing and writing about fiction, through a study of various literary genres, such as the novella, the tale, the memoir, and the essay.
To develop the skills of inquiry-driven research and scholarship.
To conduct close readings of original literary texts in the modern Scandinavian languages.
To conduct research using critical sources in Scandinavian languages.
General method of instruction
Method of instruction is student-centered and active. Lectures and class discussions are also part of the instructional method. The presentation of the material and the assignments are inquiry-driven. A number of exercises are also specifically designed to foster the development of the skills of research and scholarship.
The course is geared for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in Humanities and Social Sciences, including European Studies, Scandinavian Studies, Women Studies and related fields. 1. Course Pack (AVE copy), includes additional selections by Dinesen. 2. Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass 3. Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Seven Gothic Tales (selections) 4. Isak Dinesen, Daguerreotypes and Other Essays.
Class assignments and grading
Graduate students in Scandinavian Studies are expected to read the literary texts in the original Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
20% Preparation for and participation in class discussions. 20% Four 1-page response "letters." 60% Term research paper 12 - 15 pages.