Multilingual Aesthetics in Nordic Contemporary Literature
- Karin Nykvist, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Lund University
- Elisabeth Friis, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Lund University
Abstract: In the wake of globalism and new paths of migration on the one hand, and regionalism and new nationalist movements on the other, the world may seem a heavily polarized place. How is this development processed and negotiated in contemporary Nordic poetry and prose? In our paper we will present the outlines of a recently initiated project, where we study how 21st century authors related to the Nordic region, through language and/or habitat, use multilingual devices in order to examine and negotiate the gap between a homogeneous and monolingual ideal historically related to the idea of the nation state and the heterogeneous, multilingual reality of the 21st century.
Through the study of a large corpus of heterogeneous texts we plan to explore how multilingual strategies in contemporary Nordic literary texts highlight as well as destabilize ideas of lingual and cultural purity. Our study will address topics such as the ideology of the mother tongue, and investigate how dialects and anglification are put into play in contemporary writing, how multilingualism is used as a performative device that negotiates and moulds traces of migration and destabilizes the idea of monolingualism, and how and to what ends minority languages are used in a majority language environment. In the time allotted to us, we will address a few of the methodological and theoretical challenges of our line of research. Our point of departure will be a few emblematic literary examples that illustrate the diversity of multilingual Nordic literature.