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Kristina Malmio, University of Helsinki

The wonderful adventures of The American Girl

- The reception of a work of nordic minor literature in the US

  • Name: Kristina Malmio
  • Academic credentials: Literary studies, adjunctive professor in nordic literature, University of Helsinki, Finland

Abstract: Taking my departure in the reception of The American Girl, a novel by Finland-Swedish writer Monika Fagerholm in O, The Oprah Magazine in US in 2010, I study the cultural transfer of a literary work produced within a small, Nordic language minority in a major global context. Questions asked and answered are: How does the novel pave it’s way to the netpages of one of Americas most important media phenomena and how is it received? Within which context is The American Girl interpreted, and what is the significance of geography in the reception? How is Scandinavia viewed on the netpages of an American media celebrity? Using the concepts of ”minor literature” and ”world literature” I will on the one hand analyze the strategies used by a Nordic author to enter a global market, on the other hand show some of the assymmetries that take place in the reception. 

The case ”Fagerholm goes Oprah” offers an intriguing example of the ongoing negotiations between the local and the global, Nordic – USA, minor literature – global market. As such it illustrates what happens when minor cultures enter a major context and casts light on the question of how Scandinavia is apprehended outside the Nordic countries, and what happens with the ”Nordic” in cultural transfer. Whatmore, it is a wonderful case of late modern spatiality.

Theme: Scandinavia in the Eyes of the World