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Margareta Dancus, University of Agder

Nordic Fylleangst in a Cultural Perspective

  • Name: Adriana Margareta Dancus
  • Academic credentials: Film and cultural studies. Associate Professor, University of Agder, Norway

Abstract: The phenomenon of Nordic fylleangst or fylleångest is a recurrent aspect of contemporary life in Norway and Sweden. Fylleangst and fylleångest are unique Nordic terms that exist only in Norwegian and Swedish respectively, both referring to a perceived anxiety following abusive alcohol consumption. This anxiety is more than a physical reaction triggered by alcohol. Rather, it is an ambient emotion, an “ugly feeling,” to cite American cultural theorist Sianne Ngai: intentionally weak, non-cathartic, and politically ambiguous. Moreover, because fylleangst may install itself also in the absence of concrete signs of immoral behavior, it is different from other post-binge phenomena like one-night stands and walks-of-shame known from the Anglo-American context.

In this paper, I set out to investigate the Nordic phenomenon of fylleangst as it appears in Nordic film, TV, and literature. In particular, I am interested in how the televised, cinematic and literary treatments of fylleangst resonate across the socio-political sphere. For not only do TV, film and literature comment on the Nordic drinking cultures. They also demonstrate how fylleangst intersects in thought-provoking ways with other strong and explicitly moral emotions like shame and guilt, and which are central to the construction of Nordicness as a community of feeling.

Theme: Scandinavia in the Eyes of the World