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Klaus Müller-Wille, University of Zürich


Redefining the North

– Fragments of the History of a progressive Scandinavism

Abstract: Usually we associate the term Scandinavism with different attempts to revitalize the Nordic heritage in order to build up a Nordic identity that is associated with the imagination of a common linguistic and cultural background. The cultural concept of Scandinavia usually was defined in relation to the past and the cultivation of cultural traditions that also characterize a common world-view.

In my paper I will have a look on different traditions of aesthetic concepts of scandinavism that were established during the Romantic Movement (Carl Jonas Almqvist, HC Andersen), the Modern Breakthrough (Ellen Key, Georg Brandes) and during the Neo-Avantgardistic Movements in Scandinavia (Asger Jorn). These historical attempts to redefine the North are more often concerned with the question of future aesthetics or politics than with the idea of an already given past.

In my paper I will focuse on the intern contradictions, paradoxes and aporias that characterize all of these attempts to use the concept of Scandinavia in the frame of a modern or progressive project. After that I will reflect on the question if and how these sometimes odd and peculiar reflections can be used in order to develop new approaches to the concept of Scandinavia.


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Klaus Müller-Wille, University of Zürich

Born 1966 in Kiel (Germany), works as a professor of Northern philology at the German department of the university of Zurich (Switzerland). From 2012 to 2015 he was working as a visiting professorial fellow at the Hans-Christian-Andersen-Centre in Odense (SDU). His main research interests reach from the Scandinavian literature of Romanticism (Almqvist, Andersen, Heiberg, Gyllembourg, Kierkegaard) over the Modern Breakthrough (Ibsen, Strindberg, Ola Hansson) to the Nordic Avant-garde (Christensen, Fahlström, Jorn). He has published books on Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (Schrift, Schreiben und Wissen. Zu einer Theorie des Archivs in Texten von C.J.L. Almqvist) and Hans Christian Andersen (Sezierte Bücher. Hans Christian Andersens Materialästhetik). His theoretical interest reange from theories of writing, reading, materiality, theatricality to cultural history (literature and economy, literature and imagined communities).

Earlier Event: June 15
Later Event: June 15