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An Armchair Traveller's History of Finland
Jonathan Clements
Haus Publishing, 2014
In the American mind, Finland is often swept up in the general group of Nordic countries, little known and seldom gaining prominence on its own. But as Jonathan Clements shows in An Armchair Traveller’s History of Finland, it has a long and fascinating history, one that offers oddities and excitements galore: from prehistoric herders to medieval lords, Christian martyrs and Viking kings, and the war heroes who held off the Soviet Union against long odds.

Clements travels the length of the country as he tells these stories, along the way offering accounts of Finland’s public artworks, literary giants, legends and folktales, and famous figures. The result is the perfect introduction to Finland for armchair and actual travelers alike.

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The Army of Truth
Selected Poems
Henrik Wergeland
University of Wisconsin Press, 2003

One of Norway’s most celebrated literary figures of the nineteenth century, Henrik Wergeland worked tirelessly for the civil rights of Jews in Norway. He used the words and structure of his poetry to enliven the ideals of truth, freedom, and equality. This translated volume, containing several of Wergeland’s most prominent poems, beautifully encapsulates the compelling force of his message, allowing its enduring influence to benefit a wider contemporary audience.


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The Baltic
A History
Michael North
Harvard University Press, 2015

In this overview of the Baltic region from the Vikings to the European Union, Michael North presents the sea and the lands that surround it as a Nordic Mediterranean, a maritime zone of shared influence, with its own distinct patterns of trade, cultural exchange, and conflict. Covering over a thousand years in a part of the world where seas have been much more connective than land, The Baltic: A History transforms the way we think about a body of water too often ignored in studies of the world’s major waterways.

The Baltic lands have been populated since prehistory by diverse linguistic groups: Balts, Slavs, Germans, and Finns. North traces how the various tribes, peoples, and states of the region have lived in peace and at war, as both global powers and pawns of foreign regimes, and as exceptionally creative interpreters of cultural movements from Christianity to Romanticism and Modernism. He examines the golden age of the Vikings, the Hanseatic League, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, and Peter the Great, and looks at the hard choices people had to make in the twentieth century as fascists, communists, and liberal democrats played out their ambitions on the region’s doorstep.

With its vigorous trade in furs, fish, timber, amber, and grain and its strategic position as a thruway for oil and natural gas, the Baltic has been—and remains—one of the great economic and cultural crossroads of the world.


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Tomas Espedal
Seagull Books, 2017
Bergeners is a love letter to a writer’s hometown. The book opens in New York City at the swanky Standard Hotel and closes in Berlin at Askanischer Hof, a hotel that has seen better days. But between these two global metropolises we find Bergen, Norway—its streets and buildings and the people who walk those streets and live in those buildings.

Using James Joyce’s Dubliners as a discrete guide, celebrated Norwegian writer Tomas Espedal wanders the streets of his hometown. On the journey, he takes notes, reflects, writes a diary, and draws portraits of the city and its inhabitants. Espedal writes tales and short stories, meets fellow writers, and listens to their anecdotes. In a way that anyone from a small town can relate to, he is drawn away from Bergen but at the same time he can’t seem to stay away. Espedal’s Bergeners is a book not just about Bergen, but about life—in a way no one else could have captured.

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Between History and Myth
Stories of Harald Fairhair and the Founding of the State
Bruce Lincoln
University of Chicago Press, 2014
All groups tell stories about their beginnings. Such tales are oft-repeated, finely wrought, and usually much beloved. Among those institutions most in need of an impressive creation account is the state: it’s one of the primary ways states attempt to legitimate themselves. But such founding narratives invite revisionist retellings that modify details of the story in ways that undercut, ironize, and even ridicule the state’s ideal self-representation. Medieval accounts of how Norway was unified by its first king provide a lively, revealing, and wonderfully entertaining example of this process.
Taking the story of how Harald Fairhair unified Norway in the ninth century as its central example, Bruce Lincoln illuminates the way a state’s foundation story blurs the distinction between history and myth and how variant tellings of origin stories provide opportunities for dissidence and subversion as subtle—or not so subtle—modifications are introduced through details of character, incident, and plot structure. Lincoln reveals a pattern whereby texts written in Iceland were more critical and infinitely more subtle than those produced in Norway, reflecting the fact that the former had a dual audience: not just the Norwegian court, but also Icelanders of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, whose ancestors had fled from Harald and founded the only non-monarchic, indeed anti-monarchic, state in medieval Europe.
Between History and Myth will appeal not only to specialists in Scandinavian literature and history but also to anyone interested in memory and narrative.

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Black Fox
A Life of Emilie Demant Hatt, Artist and Ethnographer
Barbara Sjoholm
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
In 1904 a young Danish woman met a Sami wolf hunter on a train in Sweden. This chance encounter transformed the lives of artist Emilie Demant and the hunter, Johan Turi. In 1907–8 Demant went to live with Sami families in their tents and on migrations, later writing a lively account of her experiences. She collaborated with Turi on his book about his people. On her own and later with her husband Gudmund Hatt, she roamed on foot through Sami regions as an ethnographer and folklorist. As an artist, she created many striking paintings with Sami motifs. Her exceptional life and relationships come alive in this first English-language biography.

In recounting Demant Hatt's fascinating life, Barbara Sjoholm investigates the boundaries and influences between ethnographers and sources, the nature of authorship and visual representation, and the state of anthropology, racial biology, and politics in Scandinavia during the first half of the twentieth century.

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The Book of Settlements
Herman Palsson
University of Manitoba Press, 2007
Iceland was the last country in Europe to become inhabited, and we know more about the beginnings and early history of Icelandic society than we do of any other in the Old World. This world was vividly recounted in The Book of Settlements, first compiled by the first Icelandic historians in the thirteenth century. It describes in detail individuals and daily life during the Icelandic Age of Settlement.

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Children's Literature in the Nordic World
Charlotte Appel and NIna Christensen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
This volume introduces an international readership to the role books have played in the lives and upbringing of young people in the Nordic countries from the 1750s until today. Charlotte Appel and Nina Christensen look beyond an overview of noteworthy texts and characters to address the region’s distinctive reading cultures and the interactions between literature and changing views of childhood, with a special focus on Denmark.

The emergence of a dedicated market for children’s books in the Global North coincided with national school reforms, when Luther’s Small Catechism started to be supplemented—or replaced—by new books published for and about young readers, learners, and citizens. Children’s use of books and media is closely related to adults’ wishes to influence the present and future of a child through instruction, entertainment, or play. Chapters point to strong continuities as well as remarkable changes in the relationships between child readers and adult authors, artists, publishers, teachers, librarians, and parents through the centuries.

Focusing on children as the central users and producers of texts, this interdisciplinary and transnational history shows how children’s exposure to and use of media impacted the Nordic welfare state, and vice versa. As narratives for young audiences are continuously rewritten, republished, and adapted into new forms, this pithy synthesis brings forward new knowledge about the material and social history of books, literature, and childhood.

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Conflict Resolution in the Nordic World
Peter Munk Christiansen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
This book examines the model developed in the Scandinavian countries for handling labor market relations between employers and employees—a model that has secured flexible and well-functioning labor market relations with comparatively high remuneration in case of sickness or unemployment. Consensual—and comparatively efficient—policies have likewise been pursued in agricultural, industrial, environmental policies, and in many policies related to public services.

The preconditions for these policies are strong civil societies, that is, strong capacities for collective mobilization and collective action among groups, relatively strong unitary states, and high levels of generalized trust. The institutional apparatus of these consensual policies has been labeled corporatism. Scandinavian corporatism has implied consent to a norm of affected interests. Groups that are supposedly affected by state policies have access to the processes leading up to political decision-making and are involved in the implementation of policies. This access often has public commissions or committees charged with preparing political decisions and delivering advice, as well as policy implementation committees.

Corporatist and consensual policymaking come at a price. The exchange between interest groups (in pursuit of policy influence) and state actors (in pursuit of information and political support from groups) tends to be time-consuming and confined to solutions that are accepted by all actors. Corporatist policies are consequently not very conducive to more radical reforms. After the heyday of corporatist policymaking in the 1970s, all the Scandinavian countries have loosened their corporatist structures to pave the way for reforms.

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Copenhagen Chic
A Locational History of Copenhagen Fashion
Edited by Katrina Sark
Intellect Books, 2023
A comprehensive, multidisciplinary study of Copenhagen fashion.

Copenhagen has long been celebrated for its unique fashion, design, innovation, and sustainability practices, yet there has never been a comprehensive history of Copenhagen fashion and its current innovation and sustainability drive. This book fills that gap, assembling a multidisciplinary roster of contributors to examine all aspects of Copenhagen fashion and culture. Grounded in a broad context of Danish culture, industry, media, technology, sustainability, and innovation practices within the wider cultural and economic fields of fashion, the book helps us understand what makes Copenhagen unique.

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The Creation of an Ethnic Identity
Being Swedish American in the Augustana Synod, 1860-1917
Dag Blanck
Southern Illinois University Press, 2006

Analyzing the development of a Swedish American identity

The Creation of an Ethnic Identity: Being Swedish American in the Augustana Synod, 1860–1917 analyzes how Swedish American identity was constructed, maintained, and changed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Augustana Synod, the largest religious-based organization created by Swedish immigrants in the United States, played an important role in establishing what it meant to be Swedish American.

In this study, author Dag Blanck poses three fundamental questions: How did an ethnic identity develop in the Augustana Synod? What was that identity? Why was an ethnic identity formed? Based on primary sources formerly unknown or neglected, The Creation of an Ethnic Identity examines the Lutheran Augustana Synod, Augustana College, and the Augustana Book Concern to provide insights into how ethnic identity is constructed within a major religious body, a central educational institution, and a major publishing house.

Starting from the concept of ethnicity as something created or invented, Blanck goes on to explore how it was possible for a white European immigrant group like the Swedes to use its ethnicity as a tool of integration into American society. The nature of their ethnicity, says Blanck, was both determined by their cultural origins and also the values and nature of American society as they perceived it. Becoming Swedish American was also a way of becoming American.

The volume, which is augmented by illustrations, integrates the most critical scholarship on immigration and ethnicity over the past half century and provides a strong argument about how ethnicity is shaped over time within an immigrant group.


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Danes in Wisconsin
Revised and Expanded Edition
Frederick Hale
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2005

Wisconsin Territory's first Dane arrived in 1829, and by 1860 the state's Danish-born population had reached 1,150. Yet these newcomers remained only a small segment of Wisconsin's increasingly complex cultural mosaic, and the challenges of adapting to life in this new land shaped the Danish experience in the state. In this popular book, now revised and expanded with additional historical photos and documents, Frederick Hale offers a concise introduction to Wisconsin's Danish settlers, exploring their reasons for leaving their homeland, describing their difficult journeys, and examining their adjustments to life on Wisconsin soil.

New to this edition are the selected letters of Danish immigrant Andrew Frederickson. These compelling documents, written over a 40-year span, capture the personal observations of one Dane as he made a new life in Wisconsin.


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Danish Reactions to German Occupation
History and Historiography
Carsten Holbraad
University College London, 2017
For five years during World War II, Denmark was occupied by Germany. While the Danish reaction to this period of its history has been extensively discussed in Danish-language publications, it has not until now received a thorough treatment in English. Set in the context of modern Danish foreign relations, and tracing the country’s responses to successive crises and wars in the region, Danish Reactions to German Occupation brings a full overview of the occupation to an English-speaking audience. Holbraad carefully dissects the motivations and ideologies driving conduct during the occupation, and his authoritative coverage of the preceding century provides a crucial link to understanding the forces behind Danish foreign policy divisions. Analysing the conduct of a traumatised and strategically exposed small state bordering on an aggressive great power, the book traces a development from reluctant cooperation to active resistance. In doing so, Holbraad surveys and examines the subsequent, and not yet quite finished, debate among Danish historians about this contested period, which takes place between those siding with the resistance and those more inclined to justify limited cooperation with the occupiers – and who sometimes even condone various acts of collaboration.

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Democratization in the Nordic World
David Delfs Erbo Andersen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden enjoy some of the happiest populations and highest standards of living in the world, thanks in part to stable, democratic systems of government. Here, David Delfs Erbo Andersen presents a syncretic history of political and socioeconomic developments in the three Scandinavian countries since the early modern period, and contrasts their peaceful transitions with the more dramatic histories of otherwise similar European countries, like France and Germany. Unlike these and many other countries—the United States among them—Scandinavia’s transition to democracy from monarchy was not marked by major violent upheavals or extreme political antagonism. 

Rather, Scandinavia’s peaceful process of democratization owed itself to the development of a penetrative bureaucracy in the early modern period and the activism of cooperative associations, first of farmers in the early nineteenth century and then of industrialized workers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thanks to the gradual, relatively consensual adoption of political reforms and social norms, the history of “Nordic democratic exceptionalism” today helps account for the ongoing stability of the Scandinavian countries.

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Digital Spatial Infrastructures and Worldviews in Pre-Modern Societies
Alexandra Petrulevich
Arc Humanities Press, 2023
The study of medieval and early modern geographic space, literary cartography, and spatial thinking at a time of rapid digitization in the Humanities offers new ways to investigate spatial knowledge and world perceptions in pre-modern societies. Digitization of cultural heritage collections, open source databases, and interactive resources utilizing a rich variety of source materials—place names, early modern cadastral maps, medieval literature and art, Viking Age and medieval runic inscriptions—provides opportunities to re-think traditional lines of research on spatiality and worldviews, encourage innovation in methodology, and engage critically with digital outcomes. In this book, Nordic scholars of philology, onomastics, history, geography, literary studies, and digital humanities examine multiple aspects of ten large- and small-scale digital spatial infrastructures from the early stages of development to the practical applications of digital tools for studying spatial thinking and knowledge in pre-modern sources and societies.

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Eastern Europe in Icelandic Sagas
Tatjana N. Jackson
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
Based on the material of the Old Norse Icelandic sources written down in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, this book demonstrates how medieval Scandinavians imagined Eastern Europe. It reconstructs the system of medieval Scandinavian perception of space in general, and the eastern part of the <i>oecumene</i> in particular. It also examines the unique information of these sources, of which the Russian chronicles were unaware.

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Economic Performance in the Nordic World
Torben M. Andersen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
The Nordic countries stand out in international comparisons for having both high living standards and low inequality. The welfare state and public sectors are large and the tax burden is high. How have these countries managed to achieve such favorable economic performance? 

Economist Torben M. Andersen shows how the Nordic model rests on two pillars: the social safety net, which offers income compensation to the majority of those unable to support themselves, and the provision of services like education, childcare, and healthcare to all. The Nordic model can be characterized as one of employment, since its financial viability rests on a high labor participation rate with few working poor. 

Andersen lays out the structure of the model and highlights factors important for understanding its economic performance. He then looks into specific policy areas based on Denmark's experiences regarding labor market policies (flexicurity), pension systems, and preparation for an aging population; and addresses the challenges arising from new technologies and globalization.

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The Edda
A Collection of Essays
R.J. Glendinning
University of Manitoba Press, 1983
Twelve essays are presented by outstanding authorities in Nordic medieval studies and range from treatment of broad aspects of the Edda, to consideration of single poems, to analysis of parts of specific works. An attactive and important collection for every scholar of Old Scandinavian.

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The Emergence of the English
Susan Oosthuizen
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
This book takes a critical approach to the dominant explanation for the transformation from post-Roman to 'Anglo-Saxon' society in Britain from the fifth to the eighth century: that change resulted from north-west European immigration into Britain. After testing this paradigm, the author explores the increasing amount of evidence for the gradual evolution of late Roman into early medieval England, and suggests some new directions for research that may lead to the development of more holistic explanatory models.

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Essays on Scandinavian History
H. Arnold Barton
Southern Illinois University Press, 2008

Essays on Scandinavian History examines important aspects of the history of Sweden and its Nordic neighbors between the later eighteenth and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Historian H. Arnold Barton has selected thirteen of the numerous essays he has published over the past forty years on the history of Scandinavia.

This is a companion volume to Barton's The Old Country and the New, an essay collection on Swedish emigration and the Swedes in America. Included here are studies of the special significance of the eighteenth century in Sweden's history and culture, the relationship of King Gustaf III to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the impact of the American Revolution in Sweden, and Gustaf III's ambitions in the East Baltic region. Also detailed are the king's early reaction to the French Revolution and his efforts to organize a European coalition to crush it, a reassessment of the reign and internal reforms of Gustaf IV Adolf, and the Swedish succession crises of 1809 and 1810.

In addition, Barton examines the increasing tension between the Pan-Scandinavian movement and the rising Finnish national movement. He deals with the historians of the Danish Agrarian Reforms of 1784-1814, parallel developments in Finland and Norway between 1808 and 1917, the discovery of Norway abroad, Swedish national romanticism, and Sweden's transition from a warfare state to a welfare state, now exemplifying the rational and humane ideals of the twentieth century.

Essays on Scandinavian History highlights important topics in the history of the Scandinavian region, which has remained all too little known outside the Nordic lands themselves, while also offering broader perspectives on Europe since the mid-eighteenth century. Twelve keyed-to-text illustrations, a bibliography of Barton's publications on Scandinavian history, essay endnotes, and an index augment this work.


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“Europe” in the Middle Ages
Klaus Oschema
Arc Humanities Press, 2023
From the nineteenth century onwards, historians described the Middle Ages as the "cradle" of the nation state—then, after World War II, they increasingly identified the period as the "cradle" of Europe. A close look at the sources demonstrates that both interpretations are misleading: while "Europe" was not a rare word, its use simply does not follow modern expectations. This volume contrasts modern historians' constructions of "Europe in the Middle Ages" with a fresh analysis of the medieval sources and discourses. The results force us to recognize that medieval ideas of ordering the world differ from modern expectations, thereby inviting us to reflect upon the use and limits of history in contemporary political discourse.

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Finland and Europe
The Period of Autonomy and the International Crises, 1808-1914
Juhani PaasivirtaD.G. Kirby, EditorTranslated by Anthony F. Upton and Sirkka R. Upton
University of Minnesota Press, 1982

Finland and Europe was first published in 1982. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

In 1808 the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Swedish kingdom since the thirteenth century, was invaded and in 1809 annexed by Russia -- events which took place within the context of the Napoleonic wars but whose significance was obscure to most Finns and to the outside world as well. During the nineteenth century Finnish national identity grew and Finland began to play a role in European politics. This book traces the course of Finnish involvement in European affairs from the time when it became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire down to the First World War. Juhani Paasivirta's analysis is centered upon eleven international crises, including the Russian annexation of Finland, the fall of Napoleon, two revolutions in Poland, the revolutions of 1848, the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, the Russo-Turkish and Russo-Japanese wars, and the outbreak of the First World War.

Paasivirta writes from two vantage points: he records the reactions to these events in Finland, across a broad social and economic spectrum, and the attitudes towards the 'Finnish situation' in Sweden, England, France, and Germany. Finland's relationship with Russia, and her necessarily realistic regard for the security of the Russian Empire were important matters faced by Finnish leaders; Paasivirta shows how this delicate relation collapsed, making way for a course that led to Finnish independence in 1917.


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Finland in the Twentieth Century
A History and an Interpretation
D.G. Kirby
University of Minnesota Press, 1980

Finland in the Twentieth Century was first published in 1980. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Finland's search for a national identity is the underlying theme of this book. A small nation, geographically isolated and linguistically distinct from its neighbors, Finland has long maintained close ties with Sweden and also has had to come to terms with a powerful eastern neighbor, the Soviet Union. D.G. Kirby opens his history with a description of Finland at the turn of the century, when it was a Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire, and traces its emergence as an independent state with the collapse of the Empire in 1917. He examines the new republic's struggle for survival—and identity—after the civil war of 1918, which left a legacy of political instability through the interwar years.

Finland's complex political history is closely tied to its external relations. Kirby describes the evolution of Finnish foreign policy from the period when Finland and the Soviet Union were distrustful and then warring neighbors down to the present policy of friendship and cooperation which grew out of the treaty of 1948. The book closes with an account of Finland's international and domestic status in the Kekkonen era.

Throughout, Kirby provides a substantial socio-economic background to round out his political and diplomatic themes. He also brings to the English-language readers the results of modern Finish historical research. Since historians have played a key role in Finland as interpreters of the nation's recent past, his analysis of their debates helps clarify the ways in which Finland has developed as an independent state in the twentieth century.


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Fish Trade in Medieval North Atlantic Societies
An Interdisciplinary Approach to Human Ecodynamics
Val Dufeu
Amsterdam University Press, 2018
Val Dufeu here reconstructs settlement patterns of fishing communities in Viking Age Iceland and proposes socio-economic and environmental models relevant to any study of the Vikings or the North Atlantic. She integrates written sources, geoarchaeologicaldata, and zooarchaeological data to examine how fishing propelled political change in the North Atlantic. The evolution of survival fishing to internal fish markets to overseas fish trade mirrors wider social changes in the Vikings’ world.

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A Folk Divided
Homeland Swedes and Swedish Americans, 1840-1940
H. Arnold Barton
Southern Illinois University Press, 1994

In this unique longitudinal study of how a divided people relate to one another, H. Arnold Barton outlines dilemmas created by the great migration of Swedes to the United States from 1840 through 1940 and the complex love-hate relationship that resulted between those who stayed and those who left. During that hundred-year period, one Swede out of five voluntarily immigrated to the United States, and four-fifths of those immigrants remained in their new country. This study seeks to explore the far-reaching implications of this mass migration for both Swedes and Swedish Americans.

The Swedes were a literate, historically aware people, and the 1.2 million Swedes who immigrated to the United States offer a particularly well-documented and illuminating case study. Barton has skillfully woven into the text translations of little known published and unpublished Swedish sources from both sides of the Atlantic, to embody—in haunting human terms—both what was gained and what was lost through emigration.

Past studies have traditionally shown ethnic mobilization to be a defensive reaction against the exclusive nativism of resident Americans. Barton convincingly demonstrates, however, that the creation of a distinctive Swedish-American identity was at least equally an expression of the immigrants’ need to justify leaving their homeland to their former compatriots and to themselves by asserting a rightful and unique place within the Swedish national community. He concludes that the relationship between Swedes and Swedish Americans was essentially similar to that experienced by other peoples divided by migration, and that the long debate over the United States and emigration at its deepest level reveals both hopes and fears most conspicuously symbolized by America and "Americanization" in an increasingly integrated world undergoing the relentless advance of modernization.


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Folklore Fights the Nazis
Humor in Occupied Norway, 1940–1945
Kathleen Stokker
University of Wisconsin Press, 1997
    Armed with jokes, puns, and cartoons, Norwegians tried to keep their spirits high and foster the Resistance by poking fun at the occupying Germans during World War II. Despite a 1942 ordinance mandating death for the ridicule of Nazi soldiers, Norwegians attacked the occupying Nazis and their Norwegian collaborators by means of anecdotes, quips, insinuating personal ads, children’s stories, Christmas cards, mock postage stamps, and symbolic clothing.
    In relating this dramatic story, Kathleen Stokker draws upon her many interviews with survivors of the Occupation and upon the archives of the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the University of Oslo. Central to the book are four “joke notebooks” kept by women ranging in age from eleven to thirty, who found sufficient meaning in this humor to risk recording and preserving it. Stokker also cites details from wartime diaries of three other women from East, West, and North Norway. Placing the joking in historical, cultural, and psychological context, Stokker demonstrates how this seemingly frivolous humor in fact contributed to the development of a resistance mentality among an initially confused, paralyzed, and dispirited population, stunned by the German invasion of their neutral country.
    For this paperback edition, Stokker has added a new preface offering a comparative view of resistance through humor in neighboring Denmark.

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Folklore in the Nordic World
Thomas A. DuBois
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
In seven concise chapters that document both the history of Nordic folkloristics and the ongoing vivacity of Nordic folklore today, Thomas A. DuBois demonstrates how the informal, traditional elements of a culture or subculture are an integral and vibrant part of the Nordic world.

From methods of preparing suovabiergu (smoked reindeer meat) in Sápmi, to celebrating graduation by “running the falls” at Uppsala University in Sweden, to massive folk music festivals in Finland and tales of supernatural visitors bestowing baby names in Iceland, folklore offers unique insights into the everyday life of Nordic society. The study of Nordic folklore began in the nineteenth century, when early folklorists imagined that the true character of a nation could be found among the tales of the peasantry. Today, the theories, tools, and institutions developed by influential folklorists in the Nordic region continue to lead the way in documentation, preservation, and analysis of folklore.

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Food Culture in Medieval Scandinavia
Viktória Gyönki
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
The making, eating, and sharing of food throughout society represents an important and exciting area of study with the potential to advance the field of scholarship, particularly in the context of Scandinavian Studies. This book analyses the historical, legal, and literary sources of the region during the medieval period to explore different aspects of Scandinavian culture relating to food and drink: production, consumption (including feasts), trading (distribution), and the associated social rituals. Using new and innovative approaches, this collection of studies offers broad insights into a great variety of social practices and includes fresh information on not only social history but also traditional topics such as trade, commercial exchange, legal regulation, and political organisation. The book unites contributors from a variety of backgrounds, further enriching the content of a collection that promises to make a significant contribution to the state of current research.

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From Myth to Fiction
The Saga of Hadingus
Georges Dumézil
University of Chicago Press, 1973
In this work the distinguished religious historian Georges Dumézil considers how the early mythology of a people can be creatively transposed into the epic of their origin or the "history" of their kings, or the source of their fiction. The Saga of Hadingus, written by a twelfth-century Danish "historian," Saxo-Grammaticus, provides an extraordinarily interesting instance of this kind of transposition. By comparing this work to a myth as it was handed down to Saxo, Professor Dumézil demonstrates how the saga can be seen as a literary structure derived from the religious structure of the myth.

As Professor Dumézil and others have shown, some Indo-European peoples, after their conversion to Christianity, have reordered an earlier mythology to constitute the epic of their origins. For instance, Celtic mythology became history in one case and a source of fiction in another; and from the two texts, Welsh and Irish, by comparison one can reconstruct the original myth.

The Scandinavian nations provide a unique case, for here the pre-Christian texts are still read and have preserved much of the area's mythology in its original form. In addition, we have the work of Saxo and other known writers who composed and signed human transpositions of this mythology purporting to be history. This permits Professor Dumézil to make observations of a rare kind, for knowing something of the author's personality facilitates an understanding of the process of transposition itself.

Professor Dumézil shows how Saxo began by wanting only to tell the story of Denmark and its rulers as nobly as he could—and then later on to extend that narrative back in time. This led him to the only extant Scandinavian literature—that centered on Iceland—that he reordered and reinterpreted to the greater glory of Denmark.

In order to provide a content for the reign of the third king of the Danish Skoldunger dynasty, Hadingus, Saxo simply reworked a Scandinavian account of the career of the god Njördr. In this light Professor Dumézil reads The Saga of Hadingus as a fascinating substitution of a psychological and completely personal narrative for a story of purely social value.

This book contains six appendixes including two that consider the relationship between myth and folklore. They complement Professor Dumézil's careful exegeses and imaginative scholarship to make this the most important, specialized work on Scandinavian mythology available in English.


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The Global North
Spaces, Connections, and Networks before 1600
Carol Symes
Arc Humanities Press, 2021
When Janet Abu-Lughod sketched the contours of a medieval “world system” in 1989, she located most communication networks in the southern hemisphere. In recent decades, however, new trends in research and new forms of evidence have complicated, enriched, and expanded this picture, geographically and chronologically. We now know that vast portions of the world were interconnected throughout the Middle Ages and, moreover, that the entire circumpolar North was a contact zone in its own right. In this volume, scholars from a range of disciplines explore the boreal globe from the late Iron Age to the seventeenth century, offering fresh perspectives that cross the frontiers of national historiographies and presenting new research on migration, trade, mapping, cultural exchange, and the interactions of humans with their environment.

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Governing Trade Unions in Sweden
Leif Lewin
Harvard University Press, 1980

Because the world has long seen Sweden as a pioneer of democratic socialism, the success or failure of social experiments there has had momentous impact on the development of similar programs elsewhere. Now, in this penetrating inquiry undertaken by one of Sweden's leading political scientists, the problems and practices of Swedish trade unions are fully revealed.

Leif Lewin is interested in finding answers to several central questions: How “democratic” are Sweden's unions? How are they governed? How have they avoided the institutional inequities that plague some American unions? What sacrifices have Swedish unions had to make in order to solve their problems?

Lewin has gone directly to the people concerned, receiving from some 3,000 union members and leaders the information that forms the basis of his study. But his book is more than an empirical analysis of trade union democracy. It is also a strikingly successful example for all social scientists who have struggled to apply a hypothetical model of “democracy” to the ambiguous, often turbulent world around them. Above all, Lewin shows how the democratic ideal of individual intellectual and moral enrichment can be approached through participation in collective decision making. Thoughtful and balanced, his book addresses many of the problems that are just now being faced by social planners, economists, and union organizers everywhere.


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The Great Debate
Nietzsche, Culture, and the Scandinavian Welfare Society
Georg Brandes and Harald Høffding
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
In 1889, Danish literary critic Georg Brandes published “Aristocratic Radicalism: An Essay on Friedrich Nietzsche,” which transformed the as-yet-unknown German-Swiss philosopher into a European, and ultimately global, phenomenon. The article sparked a furious public debate between Brandes and a fellow Dane, philosopher Harald Høffding, who swiftly issued a rebuttal,  “Democratic Radicalism: An Objection.” What began as a scholarly disagreement over Nietzsche’s philosophy rapidly spiraled into a sprawling contest of competing visions of society’s future, one radically aristocratic and the other radically democratic.

Marking the moment at which the uniquely Nordic concept of social democratic welfare was first contested in the public sphere, this debate provides insights into not only Nietzschean philosophy and its immediate reception but also the foundational concept of modern Scandinavian social, cultural, and political organization. This volume presents, for the first time in any language other than Danish, the debate in its entirety: three essays by Brandes and three by Høffding. A critical introduction by editor and translator William Banks explores the exchange in its context and convincingly argues that the principles contested by the two Danish luminaries still very much resonate in Western society today.

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A Handbook of Scandinavian Names
Nancy L. Coleman
University of Wisconsin Press, 2010

Are you looking for
•    A Scandinavian name for your baby?
•    The names of Norse gods and heroes?
•    The history and meaning of Scandinavian first names?
•    Variations and alternate spellings for common Scandinavian names?
•    Naming traditions and customs in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark?

A Handbook of Scandinavian Names includes a dictionary of more than fifteen hundred given names from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, plus some from Iceland and Finland. Each entry provides a guide to pronunciation and the origin and meaning of the name. Many entries also include variations and usage in the Scandinavian countries and famous bearers of the name.
    Adding engaging context to the dictionary section is an extensive comparative guide to naming practices. The authors discuss immigration to North America from Scandinavia and the ways given names and surnames were adapted in the New World. Also included in the book is a history of Scandinavian names, information on “Name Days,” and discussion of significant names from mythology and history, including naming traditions in royal families.

Winner, Reference Book of the Year, Midwest Book Awards

Finalist, USA Best Books Award for Parenting/Family Reference



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Happiness in the Nordic World
Christian Bjørnskov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
Denmark is consistently among the countries with the happiest and most satisfied populations, and it regularly places at the very top with the rest of the Nordic countries in international surveys. Why do the Nordic countries as a whole constitute the happiest region in the world? 

Many experts attribute the region's high levels of happiness to factors such as greater relative national wealth and well-functioning institutions. Yet, a number of other countries in Europe and parts of Asia share those qualities and rank far lower in life satisfaction. Others credit the region's high levels of happiness to its welfare state model, but these have changed considerably over time—and Iceland does not share this feature. 

Instead, economist Christian Bjørnskov argues that the most important factor to come out of international comparisons is the importance of social trust—the ability to trust other people one does not know personally. The populations in three of the five countries are also characterized by a very strong sense of personal freedom. These two key factors contribute to a fuller and richer life. Bjørnskov ends by discussing to what extent these factors can be exported to other parts of the world. 

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History of the Kings of Norway
By Snorri Sturluson
University of Texas Press, 1964

Beginning with the dim prehistory of the mythical gods and their descendants, Heimskringla recounts the history of the kings of Norway through the reign of Olaf Haraldsson, who became Norway's patron saint. Once found in most homes and schools and still regarded as a national treasure, Heimskringla influenced the thinking and literary style of Scandinavia over several centuries.


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History Of Scandinavia
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, And Iceland
T.K. Derry
University of Minnesota Press, 2000

This concise account traces the history of the Scandinavian countries from earliest times to the present, emphasizing common features in their heritage and in their contribution to the modern world.  The author’s aim is to describe each country’s history, traditions, and way of life and to examine the political development of the five nations in the context of the whole Nordic region.


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A History of the Old Icelandic Commonwealth
Islendinga Saga
Jon Johannesson
University of Manitoba Press, 2007
The founding of the Old Icelandic Commonwealth in 930 A.D. is one of the most significant events in the history of early Western Europe. This pioneering work of historiography provides a comprehensive history of Iceland from 870 A.D. to the end of the Commonwealth in 1262.

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A History of the Swedish People
Volume II: From Renaissance to Revolution
Vilhelm Moberg
University of Minnesota Press, 2005
In the second volume of his vivid history of the Swedes, Vilhelm Moberg brings his focus on the common people to bear on a period that included two dramatic revolts: the national insurrection under Engelbrekt and the last desperate attempt of the Smaland peasantry to retain their medieval liberties - a defiance bloodily crushed by King Gustav Vasa. Using a wide variety of local historical source materials, Moberg studies the ruthless monarch Vasa and his two tragic opponents: the psychopathic Christian II of Denmark and Nils Dracke, the leader of the Smalanders. Furthermore, he examines the enigmatic and wide appeal of the Swedish forest and investigates the origins of the Swedish hatred of Danes, which was implanted by propaganda through songs commissioned by Karl VIII's chancellery.Moberg's history has been widely hailed by the Swedish press as a masterpiece of popular history writing and has been an all-time best-seller in Swedish bookstores.

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The Humanities and the Modern Politics of Knowledge
The Impact and Organization of the Humanities in Sweden, 1850-2020
Anders Ekström
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
This book addresses the shifting status of the humanities through a national case study spanning two centuries. The societal function of the humanities is considered from the flexible perspective of knowledge politics in order to historicize notions of impact and intellectual organization that tend to be taken for granted. The focus on modern Sweden enables an extended but still empirically coherent historical analysis, inviting critical comparisons with the growing literature on the history of the humanities from around the world. In the Swedish case, the humanities were instrumental to the construction of modern societal institutions, political movements, and professional education in the second half of the 19th century, while in the 20th century, the sense of future-making shifted towards science and medicine, and later technology and economy. The very rationale of the humanities was thus put under pressure as their social contract required novel negotiations. Their state and connections to society were nevertheless of a complex and ambiguous character, as is demonstrated by this volume whose contributions explore the many faces and places of the modern humanities.

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The First New Society
Richard F. Tomasson
University of Minnesota Press, 1980

Iceland was first published in 1980. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

"Iceland, as described by Tomasson, has a fascinating, often contradictory culture," writes Seymour Martin Lipset in his forward to this book, the first sociological account in English of modern Icelandic society and the forces that have shaped it. Richard F. Tomasson argues that Iceland can best be understood as an example of "a new society"—the first such pioneer community to be founded in historical times. To the author the most significant influences upon Icelandic culture and social structure are the continuities that have persisted in this island society for eleven centuries, since its origins as an isolated Viking colony.

Tomasson traces the ways in which Icelandic culture developed out of the medieval pre- Christian society—in its language, relations between the sexes, egalitarianism, and the high frequency of illegitimate births. He also points out areas of contradiction and discontinuity, noting that Iceland has been transformed in the twentieth century by modernization of the society and international influences upon the culture.

Among the topics Tomasson examines are the Icelanders' involvement in their history and national literary tradition; their social, political, and economic life; the high level of literacy; the pervasive tolerance of Icelanders in moral and religious matters; their values; and the use of alcohol. Readers interested in the Scandinavian countries and in the comparative study of societies will find Iceland a useful analysis of a significant and little known national culture.


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Inari Sámi Folklore
Stories from Aanaar
August V. Koskimies and Toivo I. Itkonen, revised by Lea Laitinen; Edited and translated by Tim Frandy
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
A rich multivoiced anthology of folktales, legends, joik songs, proverbs, riddles, and other verbal art, this is the most comprehensive collection of Sámi oral tradition available in English to date. Collected by August V. Koskimies and Toivo I. Itkonen in the 1880s from nearly two dozen storytellers from the arctic Aanaar (Inari) region of northeast Finland, the material reveals a complex web of social relations that existed both inside and far beyond the community.

First published in 1918 only in the Aanaar Sámi language and in Finnish, this anthology is now available in a centennial English-language edition for a global readership. Translator Tim Frandy has added biographies of the storytellers, maps and period photos, annotations, and a glossary. In headnotes that contextualize the stories, he explains such underlying themes as Aanaar conflicts with neighboring Sámi and Finnish communities, the collapse of the wild reindeer populations less than a century before, and the pre-Christian past in Aanaar. He introduces us to the bawdy humor of Antti Kitti, the didacticism of Iisakki Mannermaa, and the feminist leanings of Juho Petteri Lusmaniemi, emphasizing that folktales and proverbs are rooted in the experiences of individuals who are links in a living tradition.

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Introduction to Nordic Cultures
Edited by Annika Lindskog and Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen
University College London, 2020
Introduction to Nordic Cultures is an innovative, interdisciplinary introduction to Nordic history, cultures, and societies from medieval times to today. The textbook spans the whole Nordic region, covering historical periods from the Viking Age to modern society, and engages with a range of subjects: from runic inscriptions on iron rings and stone monuments, via eighteenth-century scientists, Ibsen’s dramas and turn-of-the-century travel, to twentieth-century health films and the welfare state, nature ideology, Greenlandic literature, Nordic Noir, migration, ‘new’ Scandinavians, and stereotypes of the Nordic. This book provides fundamental knowledge and insights into the history and structures of Nordic societies while constructing critical analyses around specific case studies that help build an informed picture of how societies grow and of the interplay between history, politics, culture, geography, and people.

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Journeys from Scandinavia
Travelogues of Africa, Asia, and South America, 1840—2000
Elisabeth Oxfeldt
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
For all of the scholarship done on postcolonial literatures, little has been applied to Scandinavian writing. Yet, beginning with the onset of tourism beyond Scandinavia in the 1840s, a compelling body of prose works documents Scandinavian attitudes toward foreign countries and further shows how these Scandinavian travelers sought to portray themselves to uncharted cultures.
Focusing on Danish and Norwegian travelogues, Elisabeth Oxfeldt traces the evolution of Scandinavian travel writing over two centuries using pivotal texts from each era, including works by Hans Christian Andersen, Knut Hamsun, and Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen). Oxfeldt situates each one in its historical and geopolitical context, and her close readings delineate how each travelogue reflects Scandinavia’s ongoing confrontation between Self and the non-European cultural Other.
A long-overdue examination of travel literature produced by some of Denmark and Norway’s greatest writers, Journeys from Scandinavia unpacks the unstable constructions of Scandinavian cultural and national identity and, in doing so, complicates the common assumption of a homogeneous, hegemonic Scandinavia.

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A Land of Milk and Butter
How Elites Created the Modern Danish Dairy Industry
Markus Lampe and Paul Sharp
University of Chicago Press, 2018
How and why does Denmark have one of the richest, most equal, and happiest societies in the world today? Historians have often pointed to developments from the late nineteenth century, when small peasant farmers worked together through agricultural cooperatives, whose exports of butter and bacon rapidly gained a strong foothold on the British market.

This book presents a radical retelling of this story, placing (largely German-speaking) landed elites—rather than the Danish peasantry—at center stage. After acquiring estates in Denmark, these elites imported and adapted new practices from outside the kingdom, thus embarking on an ambitious program of agricultural reform and sparking a chain of events that eventually led to the emergence of Denmark’s famous peasant cooperatives in 1882. A Land of Milk and Butter presents a new interpretation of the origin of these cooperatives with striking implications for developing countries today.

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The Languages of Scandinavia
Seven Sisters of the North
Ruth H. Sanders
University of Chicago Press, 2017
From fjords to mountains, schools of herring to herds of reindeer, Scandinavia is rich in astonishing natural beauty. Less well known, however, is that it is also rich in languages. Home to seven languages, Scandinavia has traditionally been understood as linguistically bifurcated between its five Germanic languages (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese) and its two Finno-Ugric ones (Finnish and Sámi). In The Languages of Scandinavia, Ruth H. Sanders takes a pioneering approach: she considers these Seven Sisters of the North together.

While the two linguistic families that comprise Scandinavia’s languages ultimately have differing origins, the Seven Sisters have coexisted side by side for millennia. As Sanders reveals, a crisscrossing of names, territories, and even to some extent language genetics—intimate language contact—has created a body of shared culture, experience, and linguistic influences that is illuminated when the story of these seven languages is told as one. Exploring everything from the famed whalebone Lewis Chessmen of Norse origin to the interactions between the Black Death and the Norwegian language, The Languages of Scandinavia offers profound insight into languages with a cultural impact deep-rooted and far-reaching, from the Icelandic sagas to Swedish writer Stieg Larsson’s internationally popular Millennium trilogy. Sanders’s book is both an accessible work of linguistic scholarship and a fascinating intellectual history of language.

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Lard, Lice and Longevity
The Standard of Living in Occupied Denmark and the Netherlands, 1940-1945
Ralf Futselaar
Amsterdam University Press, 2008

Lard, Lice and Longevity reconstructs economic policies implemented in Denmark and the Netherlands during the German occupation. It clearly shows that the experiences of both these countries during World War I, and during the 1930s equipped them to introduce extensive and intrusive economic controls to ward off a subsistence crisis.

In spite of the strong similarities between the two countries in terms of policies and economic order, there remains a glaring difference between the two. Throughout the occupation years, the Netherlands suffered a markedly higher level of child mortality than before or after the war, caused by an upsurge of infectious diseases. Child health in Denmark, on the other hand, declined during the occupation years, and infectious diseases rose only marginally there. In spite of similar policies, hence, the outcome in terms of the biological standard of living was dissimilar.

By closely investigating the impact of various policies on everyday life, and the amounts of goods available to different groups of consumers, this study identifies the causes of this remarkable divergence.


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Laughing Shall I Die
Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings
Tom Shippey
Reaktion Books, 2018
Laughing Shall I Die explores the Viking fascination with scenes of heroic death. The literature of the Vikings is dominated by famous last stands, famous last words, death songs, and defiant gestures, all presented with grim humor. Much of this mindset is markedly alien to modern sentiment, and academics have accordingly shunned it. And yet, it is this same worldview that has always powered the popular public image of the Vikings—with their berserkers, valkyries, and cults of Valhalla and Ragnarok—and has also been surprisingly corroborated by archaeological discoveries such as the Ridgeway massacre site in Dorset.

Was it this mindset that powered the sudden eruption of the Vikings onto the European scene? Was it a belief in heroic death that made them so lastingly successful against so many bellicose opponents? Weighing the evidence of sagas and poems against the accounts of the Vikings’ victims, Tom Shippey considers these questions as he plumbs the complexities of Viking psychology. Along the way, he recounts many of the great bravura scenes of Old Norse literature, including the Fall of the House of the Skjoldungs, the clash between the two great longships Ironbeard and Long Serpent, and the death of Thormod the skald. One of the most exciting books on Vikings for a generation, Laughing Shall I Die presents Vikings for what they were: not peaceful explorers and traders, but warriors, marauders, and storytellers.

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Laughter and Civility
The Theater of Emma Gad
Lynn R. Wilkinson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
Emma Gad (1852–1921) was a prolific Danish playwright at the turn of the twentieth century. With sparkling prose and witty dialogue, Gad’s ambitious and sophisticated theatrical productions raised important and still pressing questions about sexuality and morality—including the status of women in marriage, divorce, same‐sex desire, and marital infidelity. Through her plays she engaged with contemporaries like Henrik Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw, yet she is primarily remembered for her etiquette book, Takt og Tone.

Laughter and Civility, the first biographical and scholarly volume to examine and contextualize her dramas, deeply explores how and why influential women are so often excluded from the canon. Lynn R. Wilkinson provides insightful readings into all twenty-five of Gad’s plays and demonstrates how writers and intellectuals of the time, including Georg and Edvard Brandes, took her critically acclaimed work seriously. This volume rightfully reinstates Emma Gad’s work into the repertory of European drama and is crucial for scholars interested in turn‐of‐the‐century Scandinavian drama, literature, culture, and politics.

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Laws of Early Iceland
Gragas I
Andrew Dennis
University of Manitoba Press, 2007
The laws of Medieval Iceland provide detailed and fascinating insight into the society that produced the Icelandic sagas. Known collectively as Gragas (Greygoose), this great legal code offers a wealth of information about early European legal systems and the society of the Middles Ages. This first translation of Gragas is in two volumes.

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Laws of Early Iceland
Gragas II
Andrew Dennis
University of Manitoba Press, 2000
The laws of Mediaeval Iceland provide detailed and fascinating insight into the society that produced the Icelandic sagas. Known collectively as Gragas (Greygoose), this great legal code offers a wealth of information about early European legal systems and the society of the Middles Ages. This first translation of Gragas is in two volumes.

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The Life and Afterlife of Swedish Biograph
From Commercial Circulation to Archival Practices
Jan Olsson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022

Sweden’s early film industry was dominated by Swedish Biograph (Svenska Biografteatern), home to star directors like Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller. It is nostalgically remembered as the generative site of a nascent national artform, encapsulating a quintessentially Nordic aesthetic—the epicenter of Sweden’s cinematic Golden Age. In The Life and Afterlife of Swedish Biograph, veteran film scholar Jan Olsson takes a hard look at this established, romanticized narrative and offers a far more complete, complex, and nuanced story.

Nearly all of the studio’s original negatives were destroyed in an explosion in 1941, but Olsson’s comprehensive archival research shows how the company operated in a commercial, international arena, and how it was influenced not just by Nordic aesthetics or individual genius but also by foreign audiences’ expectations, technological demands, Hollywood innovations, and the gritty back-and-forth between economic pressures, government interference, and artistic desires. Olsson’s focus is wide, encompassing the studio’s production practices, business affairs, and cinematographic conventions, as well as the latter-day archival efforts that both preserved and obscured parts of Swedish Biograph’s story, helping construct the company’s rosy legacy. The result is a necessary rewrite to Swedish film historiography and a far fuller picture of a canonical film studio.


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The Madisonian Turn
Political Parties and Parliamentary Democracy in Nordic Europe
Torbjörn Bergman and Kaare Strøm, editors
University of Michigan Press, 2013

Parliamentary democracy is the most common regime type in the contemporary political world, but the quality of governance depends on effective parliamentary oversight and strong political parties. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have traditionally been strongholds of parliamentary democracy. In recent years, however, critics have suggested that new challenges such as weakened popular attachment, the advent of cartel parties, the judicialization of politics, and European integration have threatened the institutions of parliamentary democracy in the Nordic region.

This volume examines these claims and their implications. The authors find that the Nordic states have moved away from their previous resemblance to a Westminster model toward a form of parliamentary democracy with more separation-of-powers features—a Madisonian model. These features are evident both in vertical power relations (e.g., relations with the European Union) and horizontal ones (e.g., increasingly independent courts and central banks). Yet these developments are far from uniform and demonstrate that there may be different responses to the political challenges faced by contemporary Western democracies.


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The Making of an Antifascist
Nordahl Grieg between the World Wars
Dean Krouk
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022
A young imperialist adventurer turned hero of the anti-Nazi resistance, Norwegian journalist, poet, and playwright Nordahl Grieg has become more of a national legend than a real person since his death as a war reporter in Berlin in 1943. A look into Grieg’s intellectual development during the dynamic interwar period sheds light on the political and cultural ideologies that competed in a turbulent Europe. Often portrayed with an emphasis on his humanist and pacifist positions, this antifascist figure becomes more complex in his writings, which reveal shifting allegiances, including an unsavory period as a rigid Stalinist.
In this comprehensive and accessible book, Dean Krouk examines a significant public figure in Scandinavian literature and a critical period in modern European history through original readings of the political, ethical, and gender issues in Grieg’s works. This volume offers a first-rate analysis of the interwar period’s political and cultural agendas in Scandinavia and Europe leading to the Second World War by examining the rise of fascism, communism, and antifascism. Grieg’s poetry found renewed resonance in Norway following the 2011 far-right domestic terrorist attacks, making insight into his contradictory ideas more crucial than ever. Krouk’s presentation of Grieg’s unexpected ideological tensions will be thought-provoking for many readers in the United States and elsewhere.

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The Man Who Stole Himself
The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan
Gisli Palsson
University of Chicago Press, 2016
The island nation of Iceland is known for many things—majestic landscapes, volcanic eruptions, distinctive seafood—but racial diversity is not one of them. So the little-known story of Hans Jonathan, a free black man who lived and raised a family in early nineteenth-century Iceland, is improbable and compelling, the stuff of novels.
            In The Man Who Stole Himself, Gisli Palsson lays out the story of Hans Jonathan (also known as Hans Jónatan) in stunning detail. Born into slavery in St. Croix in 1784, Hans was taken as a slave to Denmark, where he eventually enlisted in the navy and fought on behalf of the country in the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen. After the war, he declared himself a free man, believing that he was due freedom not only because of his patriotic service, but because while slavery remained legal in the colonies, it was outlawed in Denmark itself. He thus became the subject of one of the most notorious slavery cases in European history, which he lost. Then Hans ran away—never to be heard from in Denmark again, his fate unknown for more than two hundred years. It’s now known that Hans fled to Iceland, where he became a merchant and peasant farmer, married, and raised two children. Today, he has become something of an Icelandic icon, claimed as a proud and daring ancestor both there and among his descendants in America.
            The Man Who Stole Himself brilliantly intertwines Hans Jonathan’s adventurous travels with a portrait of the Danish slave trade, legal arguments over slavery, and the state of nineteenth-century race relations in the Northern Atlantic world. Throughout the book, Palsson traces themes of imperial dreams, colonialism, human rights, and globalization, which all come together in the life of a single, remarkable man. Hans literally led a life like no other. His is the story of a man who had the temerity—the courage—to steal himself.

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Medieval Scandinavia
From Conversion to Reformation, circa 800-1500
Birgit Sawyer
University of Minnesota Press, 1993

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Men of Terror
A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat
William R. Short and Reynir A. Óskarson
Westholme Publishing, 2021
An Interdisciplinary Study of Viking Martial Culture that Dispels Myths and Expands Our Understanding of the Medieval Norse World
Sometime near the end of the tenth century, a man named Fraði died in Sweden. His kinsmen raised a granite runestone to his memory in Denmark. The carved message appears to tell us that Fraði was “first among all Vikings” and that he was the “terror of men.” Known sources about the Vikings revolve around the constant threat of violence: literary and artistic sources from both inside and outside Viking lands, including poetry, myths, stories, and artwork; law codes; burial practices; weapons; even their ship and house architecture. 
    Based on nearly two decades of research, Men of Terror: A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat is a richly illustrated interdisciplinary study of the heart of Viking society: weapons and combat. Relying on a vast array of sources from a wide range of fields, research scientist William R. Short and independent scholar and martial arts instructor Reynir A. Óskarson dig deep into the culture of men like Fraði to better understand the mindset and performance of Viking warriors that led them to venerate and praise acts of violence and aggression. In the process they have painstakingly reverse-engineered Viking combat to account for the archaeology we have. Along the way, they answer questions such as: Were there women warriors? Why were acts such as raiding held in such high esteem? What mundane object was the king of Viking weapons and how was it used? Could bowstrings of human hair really work? Through their comprehensive research, the authors present a holistic picture of this society from what previously had only been disparate and intriguing parts. By the end of the book, the reader will understand the importance of combat to Viking society, the nature of that combat, and the code of these “men of terror.”

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My Parents
Memoirs of New World Icelanders
Birna Bjarnadottir
University of Manitoba Press, 2007
My Parents: Memoirs of New World Icelanders is a collection of essays written by second-generation Icelandic immigrants in North America, describing the lives of their parents. Originally collected in 1956 by Dr. Finnbogi Gumundsson, the first Chair of Icelandic at the University of Manitoba, seven of the fourteen memoirs are translated here from Icelandic to English. They offer a rare first-hand look into the lives of New World immigrants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Readers are invited straight into the heart of these people’s lives, from social evenings spent reading poetry and the sagas, to the daily struggles to prepare the land and build homes. A prevailing sense of community emerges from the writers’ stories, showing how Icelandic culture and tradition sustained the immigrants through hardship, illness, and isolation. My Parents also details some of the genealogy of the New World Icelanders who settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

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Myth and History in Celtic and Scandinavian Traditions
Emily Lyle
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
Myth and History in Celtic and Scandinavian Traditions explores the traditions of two fascinating and contiguous cultures in north-western Europe. History regularly brought these two peoples into contact, most prominently with the Viking invasion of Ireland. In the famous Second Battle of Moytura, gods such as Lug, Balor, and the Dagda participated in the conflict that distinguished this invasion. Pseudohistory, which consists of both secular and ecclesiastical fictions, arose in this nexus of peoples and myth and spilled over into other contexts such as chronological annals. Scandinavian gods such as Odin, Balder, Thor, and Loki feature in the Edda of Snorri Sturluson and the history of the Danes by Saxo Grammaticus. This volume explores such written works alongside archaeological evidence from earlier periods through fresh approaches that challenge entrenched views.

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Nestor Makhno and Rural Anarchism in Ukraine, 1917-1921
Colin Darch
Pluto Press, 2020
Histories of the Russian Revolution often present the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 as the central event, neglecting the diverse struggles of urban and rural revolutionaries across the heartlands of the Russian Empire. This book takes as its subject one such struggle, the anarcho-communist peasant revolt led by Nestor Makhno in left-bank Ukraine, locating it in the context of the final collapse of the Empire that began in 1914.

Between 1917 and 1921, the Makhnovists fought German and Austrian invaders, reactionary monarchist forces, Ukrainian nationalists and sometimes the Bolsheviks themselves. Drawing upon anarchist ideology, the Makhnovists gathered widespread support amongst the Ukrainian peasantry, taking up arms when under attack and playing a significant role - in temporary alliance with the Red Army - in the defeats of the White Generals Denikin and Wrangel. Often dismissed as a kulak revolt, or a manifestation of Ukrainian nationalism, Colin Darch analyses the successes and failures of the Makhnovist movement, emphasising its revolutionary character.

Over 100 years after the revolutions, this book reveals a lesser known side of 1917, contributing both to histories of the period and broadening the narrative of 1917, whilst enriching the lineage of anarchist history.

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Northern Arcadia
Foreign Travelers in Scandinavia, 1765 - 1815
H. Arnold Barton
Southern Illinois University Press, 1998

Northern Arcadia is a comparative study of the accounts of foreign visitors to the Nordic lands during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Before the late eighteenth century, few foreigners ventured as far as Scandinavia. The region seemed a cold hyperborean wilderness and a voyage there a daring adventure. From the mid-1760s on, however, foreigners arrived in the Nordic lands in increasing numbers, leaving numerous accounts that became increasingly popular, satisfying a growing curiosity about regions beyond the traditional grand tour.

The pre-Romantic mood of the period—with its predilection for untamed nature and for peoples uncorrupted by overrefined civilization—further stimulated fascination with the North. European titerati discovered the Nordic sagas, finding them exhilarating, passionate, imaginative, and original. The French Revolution and the ensuing European wars effectively closed off much of the Continent to foreign travel, turning attention to the still neutral northern kingdoms.

Travel literature about Scandinavia thus illuminates the shift in the European intellectual climate from the enlightened rationalism and utilitarianism of the earlier travelers in this period to the pre-Romantic sensibility of those who followed them. In a Europe torn by war and revolution, sensitive souls could find their new Arcadia in the North—at least until the Scandinavian kingdoms themselves became engulfed by the Napoleonic wars after 1805.

The first scholar to examine as a whole the travel literature dealing with Denmark, Schleswig-Holstein, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and the Færø Islands, H. Arnold Barton discusses accounts left by both the celebrated and the obscure. Well-known travelers include Vittorio Alfieri, Francisco de Miranda, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Malthus, and Aaron Burr. Literary travelers of the day included Nathanael Wraxall, William Coxe, Charles Gottlob Küttner, Edward Daniel Clarke, and John Carr.

Northern Arcadia brings out contrasts: among the various Nordic lands and regions; among the reactions of travelers of differing nationality; between the earlier as opposed to the later travelers of the time; between native Scandinavian and foreign perceptions of the North; between conditions in Scandinavia and those in other parts of the Western world; between then and now. It incorporates continuity and change, reality and mentality.


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Northern Light
Norway Past and Present
Ambassador Nils-Johan Jørgensen was educated at the universities of Oslo and Oxford (Norway Scholar at Wadham) and was Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). As a Norwegian career diplomat he served in Brussels, Copenhagen, Harare, Tokyo, Bonn and Dar es Salaam. He retired in 2001. He is the author of books and articles on European integration, international development, Southern Africa and Germany and Japan.
Amsterdam University Press, 2019
Here is a new, challenging appraisal of Norway, the author’s country of birth, that redefines its history, culture and heritage – ‘after Ibsen’ – and looks, with a degree of ominous foreboding, at its future and the future of Europe. Ex-diplomat and widely published author Jørgensen explores an array of topics, from Norway’s Viking past, its pursuit of independence, the German occupation, its politics and cultural heritage , the defence of NATO, the relationship with Europe, and the challenge of Russia, concluding with ‘self-image and reality’. In Northern Light, the author challenges many existing perceptions and stereotypes, making this an essential reference for anyone interested in Norway and its people, international affairs, European history and its cultural legacy.

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The Old Country and the New
Essays on Swedes and America
H. Arnold Barton
Southern Illinois University Press, 2006

Documenting a rich Scandinavian American culture and ethnic perspective

This notable collection of seventeen essays and six editorials by renowned Swedish American historian H. Arnold Barton was compiled from writings published between 1974 and 2005. The result of three decades of extensive research in the United States and Sweden, The Old Country and the New: Essays on Swedes and America, covers Swedish emigration to North America as well as the history and culture of Swedes in their new country.

In this rich mosaic of American ethnicity and cultural history, Barton analyzes the multifaceted Swedish emigration/immigration story. Essays include a survey of the historiography of emigration from the Scandinavian countries and the Scandinavian immigration to North America, Swedish emigration before 1846, and the Eric-Janssonist religious sect and its colony at Bishop Hill, Illinois.

Because Swedish immigrants were highly literate people, they wrote numerous letters describing their experiences to relatives and friends at home. What these letters related—or omitted—is the subject of another essay. Barton discusses Swedish immigrants who returned permanently to their homeland, affecting both the old country and the new. He also traces relations between the United States and Sweden, post—World War II Swedish immigration, and genealogy as history.

Offering a broad Scandinavian American ethnic perspective, The Old Country and the New appeals to both scholars and lay readers. Sixteen illustrations and a complete bibliography of Barton’s publications on Swedish American history and culture enhance the volume.


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Old Norse Mythology—Comparative Perspectives
Pernille Hermann
Harvard University Press, 2017

Old Norse mythology is elusive: it is the label used to describe the religious stories of the pre-Christian North, featuring such well-known gods as Odin and Thor, yet most of the narratives have come down to us in manuscripts from the Middle Ages mainly written by Christians. Our view of the stories as they were transmitted in oral form in the pre-Christian era is obscured.

To overcome these limitations, this book assembles comparisons from a range of theoretical and analytical perspectives—across media, cultures, and disciplines. Fifteen scholars from a wide range of fields examine the similarities of and differences of the Old Norse mythologies with the myths of other cultures. The differences and similarities within the Old Norse corpus itself are examined to tease out the hidden clues to the original stories.


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On the Left in America
Memoirs of the Scandinavian-American Labor Movement
Henry Bengston. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg. Edited and with an Introduction by Michael Brook
Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

Previously available only in an out-of-print Swedish edition published in 1955, Henry Bengston's firsthand account deals with what historian Dag Blanck calls the "other Swedish America."

Swedish immigrants in general were conservative, but Bengston and others—most notably Joe Hill—joined the working-class labor movement on the left, primarily as Debsian socialists, although their ranks included other socialists, communists, and anarchists. Involved in the radical labor movement on many fronts, Bengston was the editor of Svenska Socialisten from 1912 until he dropped out of the Scandinavian Socialist Federation in 1920. Even after 1920, however, his sympathies remained with the movement he had once strongly espoused.


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The Palace of the Snow Queen
Winter Travels in Lapland and Sápmi
Barbara Sjoholm
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

An exploration of the winter wonders and entangled histories of Scandinavia’s northernmost landscapes—now back in print with a new afterword by the author

After many years of travel in the Nordic countries—usually preferring to visit during the warmer months—Barbara Sjoholm found herself drawn to Lapland and Sápmi one winter just as mørketid, the dark time, set in. What ensued was a wide-ranging journey that eventually spanned three winters, captivatingly recounted in The Palace of the Snow Queen


From observing the annual construction of the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, to crossing the storied Finnmark Plateau in Norway, to attending a Sámi film festival in Finland, Sjoholm dives deep into the rich traditions and vibrant creative communities of the North. She writes of past travelers to Lapland and contemporary tourists in Sápmi, as well as of her encounters with Indigenous reindeer herders, activists, and change-makers. Her new afterword bears witness to the perseverance of the Sámi in the face of tourism, development, and climate change.  


Written with keen insight and humor, The Palace of the Snow Queen is a vivid account of Sjoholm’s adventures and a timely investigation of how ice and snow shape our imaginations and create a vision that continues to draw visitors to the North.


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Peoplehood in the Nordic World
Ove Korsgaard
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022

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Post-war Industrial Media Culture in Sweden, 1945-1960
New Faces, New Values
Mats Björkin
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
During the 1950s, companies aiming for international markets demanded new theories and methods of communication. Ideas regarding cybernetics, systems analysis, new accounting practices, and budgetary principles as well as theories of information, communication, marketing, public relations, and organization were discussed at conferences, seminars, and courses, and in articles and books. At the same time, new technologies changed corporate communication, from a loose-leaf accounting system to mechanical and electronic business machines, from written texts and oral presentations to slide shows, audio tapes, films, television, and flannelgraphs. By looking at a vast array of objects and relations related to uses of media technologies in Swedish industry from the end of World War II to the breakthrough of television, this book shows what happened in the glitches between mass communication and interaction, and how Swedish postwar industry worked to disrupt established understandings of communication.

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The Saga of St. Jón of Hólar
Translated by Margaret Cormack, With an Introduction byPeter Foote
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2020

This volume contains a translation of the version of the Saga of St. Jón of Hólar that is probably closest to the first Latin vita. It is only the second saga of an Icelandic episcopal saint to appear in a modern translation in the present century. The volume consists of two parts, the first comprising a general introduction and a translation by Margaret Cormack. The second part provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the manuscripts, contents, style, and literary connections of the saga by the late Peter Foote, one of the foremost scholars of Old Norse and Icelandic literature. 

The Jóns saga was written in the early thirteenth century, nearly a century after the death of its protagonist, the first bishop of the diocese of Hólar in Northern Iceland. The author of the saga combined Latin learning with native folklore to produce a readable narrative that is contemporary with the earliest family and contemporary sagas. This text provides valuable insight into the religious life of ordinary Icelanders in the thirteenth century, and the introduction corrects common misconceptions about ecclesiastical history and the cult of saints in Iceland. It will be of value to scholars of medieval Icelandic literature, hagiography, and history. 


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The Saga of the Jomsvikings
Translated from the Old Icelandic by Lee M. Hollander
University of Texas Press, 1955

In A.D. 986, Earl Hákon, ruler of most of Norway, won a triumphant victory over an invading fleet of Danes in the great naval battle of Hjórunga Bay. Sailing under his banner were no fewer than five Icelandic skalds, the poet-historians of the Old Norse world. Two centuries later their accounts of the battle became the basis for one of the liveliest of the Icelandic sagas, with special emphasis on the doings of the Jómsvikings, the famed members of a warrior community that feared no one and dared all. In Lee M. Hollander's faithful translation, all of the unknown twelfth-century author's narrative genius and flair for dramatic situation and pungent characterization is preserved.


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Saxo Grammaticus
Hierocratical Conceptions and Danish Hegemony in the Thirteenth Century
André Szczawlinska Muceniecks
Arc Humanities Press, 2017
Denmark of the twelfth to thirteenth centuries was a place of transitions, and this volume analyzes that period through the lens of the <i>Gesta Danorum </i>of Saxo Grammaticus and other sources. The <i>Gesta</i> defends not only hierocratic conceptions but the Danish hegemonic project in the Baltic - which was grounded in the crusade movements. Such movements are presented through complex language and imagery about a glorious past brought to bear on the projects in the thirteenth century while internal tensions strengthen the monarchic and ecclesiastical institutions.

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Revised and Enlarged Edition
Franklin D. Scott
Harvard University Press, 1975
North Sea oil, garden suburbs, socialized medicine, ombudsmen, economic diversification, party politics, relations with the US and the USSR—these are some of the exciting and controversial aspects of Scandinavian life in the 1970s that Franklin Scott explores in this revised edition of The United States and Scandinavia. An observer of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, Scott shows how the old tradition-oriented communities have transformed themselves into modern change-oriented societies keenly aware of their position in the world.

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Scandinavia since 1500
Second Edition
Byron J. Nordstrom
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

An updated edition of the definitive history of Scandinavia over the past five centuries

Despite certain distinctions and differences, the lands of Scandinavia, or Norden—Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands—are united by bonds of culture, language, and geography, and by a shared history that comes richly to life in this landmark work. Now in an expanded, updated edition, this authoritative chronicle of five centuries of Scandinavian history incorporates the geopolitical developments and momentous events that have marked the Nordic world in recent decades.


Scandinavia since 1500 situates the region’s political history within the traditional European chronology—in which the long “modern” period is subdivided into the Renaissance, early modern, modern, and contemporary. Within this framework, Byron J. Nordstrom traces the various ways in which economic, social, and cultural ideas and practices have come to Scandinavia from abroad, only to be modified and recast in a uniquely Nordic character. Long-unquestioned national mythologies come under Nordstrom's scrutiny, along with historical blind spots and erasures, as he ranges from canonical figures like Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and Christian IV of Denmark to the constitutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the resistance movements in World War II, and the Scandinavian welfare states, literary culture, and modern design. Expanded to include the nature and realities of the increasingly postindustrial economies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries—including environmental concerns, integration with Europe, globalization, and immigration—Scandinavia since 1500 offers a comprehensive yet nuanced portrait of this unique region in all its political, diplomatic, social, economic, and cultural complexity.



Cover alt text: Bold white title and author name across breathtaking snowy landscape of sun-touched cliffs beside a waterway and scattering of homes.


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Sea Monsters
A Voyage around the World's Most Beguiling Map
Joseph Nigg
University of Chicago Press, 2013
Smart phones and GPS give us many possible routes to navigate our daily commute, warn us of traffic and delays, and tell us where to find a cup of coffee. But what if there were sea serpents and giant man-eating lobsters waiting just off course if we were to lose our way? Would there be an app for that? In the sixteenth century, these and other monsters were thought to swim the northern waters, threatening seafarers who ventured too far from shore. Thankfully, Scandinavian mariners had Olaus Magnus, who in 1539 charted these fantastic marine animals in his influential map of the Nordic countries, the Carta Marina. In Sea Monsters, well-known expert on magical beasts Joseph Nigg brings readers face-to-face with these creatures, alongside the other magnificent components of Magnus’s map.

Nearly two meters wide in total, the map’s nine wood-block panels comprise the largest and first realistic portrayal of Northern Europe. But in addition to these important geographic elements, Magnus’s map goes beyond cartography to scenes both domestic and mystic. Close to shore, Magnus shows humans interacting with common sea life—boats struggling to stay afloat, merchants trading, children swimming, and fisherman pulling lines. But from the offshore deeps rise some of the most magical and terrifying sea creatures imaginable at the time or thereafter—like sea swine, whales as large as islands, and the Kraken. In this book, Nigg provides a thorough tour of the map’s cartographic details, as well as a colorful look at its unusual pictorial and imaginative elements. He draws on Magnus’s own text to further describe and illuminate the inventive scenes and to flesh out the stories of the monsters.

Sea Monsters is a stunning tour of a world that still holds many secrets for us land dwellers, who will forever be fascinated by reports of giant squid and the real-life creatures of the deep that have proven to be as bizarre and otherworldly as we have imagined for centuries. It is a gorgeous guide for enthusiasts of maps, monsters, and the mythic.


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A Short History of Finland
Jonathan Clements
Haus Publishing, 2022
A fascinating history of Finland from prehistoric times to the twenty-first century.
The modern nation of Finland is the heir to centuries of history, as a wilderness at the edge of early Europe, a borderland of the Swedish empire, and a Grand Duchy of tsarist Russia. And, as Jonathan Clements’s vivid, concise volume shows, it is a tale paved with oddities and excitements galore: from prehistoric reindeer herders to medieval barons, Christian martyrs to Viking queens, and, in the twentieth century, the war heroes who held off the Soviet Union against impossible odds.
Offering accounts of public artworks, literary giants, legends, folktales, and famous figures, Clements provides an indispensable portrait of this fascinating nation.
This updated edition includes expanded coverage on the Second World War, as well as new sections on Finns in America and Russia, the centenary of the republic, and Finland’s battle with COVID-19, right up to its historic application to join NATO.


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A Composer's Life and the Awakening of Finland
Glenda Dawn Goss
University of Chicago Press, 2009

One of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) virtually stopped writing music during the last thirty years of his life. Recasting his mysterious musical silence and his undeniably influential life against the backdrop of Finland’s national awakening, Sibelius will be the definitive biography of this creative legend for many years to come.

Glenda Dawn Goss begins her sweeping narrative in the Finland of Sibelius’s youth, which remained under Russian control for the first five decades of his life. Focusing on previously unexamined events, Goss explores the composer’s formative experiences as a Russian subject and a member of the Swedish-speaking Finnish minority. She goes on to trace Sibelius’s relationships with his creative contemporaries, with whom he worked to usher in a golden age of music and art that would endow Finns with a sense of pride in their heritage and encourage their hopes for the possibilities of nationhood. Skillfully evoking this artistic climate—in which Sibelius emerged as a leader—Goss creates a dazzling portrait of the painting, sculpture, literature, and music it inspired. To solve the deepest riddles of Sibelius’s life, work, and enigmatic silence, Goss contends, we must understand the awakening in which he played so great a role.

Situating this national creative tide in the context of Nordic and European cultural currents, Sibelius dramatically deepens our knowledge of a misunderstood musical giant and an important chapter in the intellectual history of Europe.


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Sinners and Citizens
Bestiality and Homosexuality in Sweden, 1880-1950
Jens Rydström
University of Chicago Press, 2003
Sinners and Citizens explores how sexual habits changed in Sweden during its development from an agrarian society into a modern welfare state. Jens Rydström examines the history of homosexuality and bestiality in that country to consider why these sexual practices have been so closely linked in virtually all Western societies. He limns sharply the distinctive experience of rural life, showing that to regularly witness farm animals stirred passions and sparked ideas, especially among young farmhands.

Based on medical journals, psychiatric reports, and court records from the period, as well as testimonies from men in diaries, letters, and interviews, Sinners and Citizens reveals that bestiality was once a dreaded crime in Sweden. But in time, mention of the practice disappeared completely from legal and medical debates. This, Rydström contends, is because models of penetrative sodomy shifted from bestiality to homosexuality as Sweden transformed from a rural society into a more urban one. As the nation's economy and culture became less identified with the countryside, so too did its idea of deviant sexual behavior.

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Smile of the Midsummer Night
A Picture of Sweden
Lars Gustafsson and Agneta Blomqvist
Haus Publishing, 2015
In Smile of the Midsummer Night, best-selling author Lars Gustafsson and Agneta Blomqvist present a very personal guide to their Swedish homeland. Setting off from the far South, their journey takes them up to Norrland, from the farms of Scania to Laponian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is the idyllic fjord in Bohulän, located in the Västmanland region, as well as Mälar Lake and Stockholm that they call home. Throughout, Gustafsson and Blomqvist are full of entertaining suggestions for excursions, including journeys through forests and moors where you can take in the odd elk or wolf along the way and visits to August Strindberg’s and Kurt Tucholsky’s graves.

The first work of contemporary travel writing about Sweden by Swedish writers to have been translated into English, Smile of the Midsummer Night is a loving and poetic ode to this beautiful nation and a must-have for anyone interested in Scandinavia.

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Social Norms in Medieval Scandinavia
Jakub Morawiec
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
New research methods allow us to explore how relics of the material culture of the medieval north can confront, corroborate, or disprove the depiction of social norms in the Old Norse-Icelandic literary corpus, which remains the most important source of our present-day knowledge of social development in the Viking Age and medieval Scandinavia. This interdisciplinary volume considers in depth how social values such as reputation, honour, and friendship, were integral to the development of rituals, customs, religion, literature, and language in the medieval North.

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Social Trust in the Nordic World
Gert Tinggaard Svendsen and Christian Bjørnskov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Study after study has shown that Scandinavia is the most trusting region in the world. Danes in particular trust other people and organizations—including strangers, businesses, governments, law enforcement, and media—more than the citizens of any other country. And countries with deep pools of social trust are populated by individuals who cooperate with each other in ways that allow public and private institutions to function more efficiently and cheaply.

Is the Nordic countries’ high level of social trust just as important for creating prosperity and happiness within a population as other, more tangible economic factors? If so, where does this stock of social trust in Scandinavia come from? Does it help to explain the development of the universal welfare states and their surprisingly high business competitiveness? Can other nations learn from the region and apply that knowledge to settings where social trust levels are low or in danger of being eroded?

Social trust has proven economic value, and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen warns that its benefits should never be taken for granted. Trust can dissolve and vanish quickly, and once gone, it is very difficult to rebuild. Governments and corporations are gradually increasing their control over people’s public and private lives, with predictably worrying results. When people feel taken advantage of or lied to, public confidence evaporates. Since strong social cohesion drives long-term prosperity, Nordic exceptionalism on maintaining and restoring trust offers valuable lessons.

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Studies in Upplandic Runography
By Claiborne W. Thompson
University of Texas Press, 1975

Studies in Upplandic Runography is a detailed treatment of the runic inscriptions from the province of Uppland, Sweden, where runic art reached a high point in A.D. 1200 and where runic inscriptions are most numerous. Most of the runic monuments discussed are from the eleventh century, an important period when Sweden was making the transition from paganism to Christianity.

The names of nearly fifty rune-carvers (runographers), professional and amateur, are known. However, many of the inscriptions were left unsigned. Claiborne Thompson examines the major problem of how an unsigned inscription is attributed to a known carver. Since each carver had a distinctive style which must be delineated, the book contains an exhaustive survey of the norms of Upplandic runography. In order to match the inscriptions with their carvers, Thompson analyzes the entire corpus of inscriptions from Uppland, their formation, the artistic designs they bear, the shapes of the runes on them, the orthography and language on them, and the manner in which they were carved.

Thompson then establishes a set of criteria for determining the authorship of a runic monument, stressing rune forms. All of the criteria are used in an extensive discussion of the carvings of Asmund Karasun, an interesting and influential carver from the first half of the eleventh century.

In addition, Thompson’s review of research describes scholarly interest in the problems of runography beginning in the early seventeenth century. The book includes an introductory sketch of the cultural background of Uppland and relates the runic tradition to historical and cultural traditions in eleventh-century Sweden.


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Surviving the Upheaval of Arctic War
Evacuation and Return of the Sámi People in Sápmi and Finland During and After the Second World War
Veli-Pekka Lehtola
University of Alaska Press, 2021

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A Modern Democracy on Ancient Foundations
Nils Herlitz
University of Minnesota Press, 1939

Sweden was first published in 1939. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Believing the journalists have done both the United States and Sweden a disservice in playing up Sweden as a democratic utopia and overemphasizing the importance of cooperatives, the author presents the facts as they appear to a Swedish publicist with a profound knowledge of the government and problems of his country.

To the English-reading public he now offers this succinct yet comprehensive survey of Swedish government and the essentials of its historical background. He has succeeded in presenting at the same time much of the spirit and the life of the Swedish people and their politics.

The aspects of Swedish life which Professor Herlitz treats are very little understood in foreign countries and should be taken into account by anyone who aspires to know the Sweden of today. His opening review of the historical development of the Swedish constitution may be studied with profit by all who are interested in government.

Of particular timeliness is his account of the rise of the Socialist party to dominance and his explanation of why many people see in the present government (with its majority coalition) the beginning of dictatorship.

After describing the organization and work of the riksdag and its relations to the government, he surveys public administration and civil service in Sweden. His chapter on "The Service-State" covers numerous topics of current interest, such as government monopolies, social legislation, relief problems, old-age pensions, and farm adjustment.

The book is an amplification of a series of lectures delivered by Professor Herlitz in the United States in the spring of 1938 in connection with the Swedish Tercentenary celebration.


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Sweden and Visions of Norway
Politics and Culture 1814-1905
H. Arnold Barton
Southern Illinois University Press, 2002

H. Arnold Barton investigates Norwegian political and cultural influences in Sweden during the period of the Swedish-Norwegian dynastic union from 1814 to 1905.

Although closely related in origins, indigenous culture, language, and religion, Sweden and Norway had very different histories, resulting in strongly contrasting societies and forms of government before 1814. After a proud medieval past, Norway had come under the Danish crown in the fourteenth century and had been reduced to virtually a Danish province by the sixteenth.

In 1814, as a spin-off of the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark relinquished Norway, which became a separate kingdom, dynastically united with Sweden with its own government under a constitution independently framed that year. Disputes during the next ninety-one years caused Norway unilaterally to dissolve the tie.

Seeing the union a failure, most historians have concentrated on its conflicts. Barton, however, examines the impact of the union on internal developments, particularly in Sweden. Prior to 1814, Norway, unlike Sweden, had no constitution and only the rudiments of higher culture, yet paradoxically, Norway exerted a greater direct influence on Sweden than vice versa.

Reflecting a society lacking a native nobility, Norway’s 1814 constitution was—with the exception of that of the United States—the most democratic in the world. It became the guiding star of Swedish liberals and radicals striving to reform the antiquated system of representation in their parliament. Norway’s cultural void was filled with a stellar array of artists, writers, and musicians, led by Bjørnsjerne Børnson, Henrik Ibsen, and Edvard Grieg. From the 1850s through the late 1880s, this wave of Norwegian creativity had an immense impact on literature, art, and music in Sweden. By the 1880s, however, August Strindberg led a revolt against an exaggerated “Norvegomania” in Sweden. Barton sees this reaction as a fundamental inspiration to Sweden’s intense search for its own cultural character in the highly creative Swedish National Romanticism of the 1890s and early twentieth century.

Thirty-three illustrations of art and architecture enhance Sweden and Visions of Norway.


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Sweden, Enlarged Edition
The Nation's History
By Franklin D. Scott. Epilogue by Steven Koblik
Southern Illinois University Press, 1988

Steven Koblik’s epilogue extends Scott’s now standard text with an analysis of contemporary Swedish political, economic, and social behavior. In addition to the epilogue, Scott has made a number of alterations in the text in order to maintain the timeliness and comprehensiveness of the work.

Using a chronological-topical structure, Scott shows how and why Sweden progressed from times of backwardness to an age of military greatness, through two centuries of cultural development and relapse into poverty followed by a sudden outburst of productive energy and the creation of an exceptionally prosperous welfare state where the ideal is consensus rather than confrontation.


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Sweden’s Development From Poverty to Affluence, 1750-1970
Steven Koblik, EditorTranslated by Joanne Johnson
University of Minnesota Press, 1975

Sweden's Development From Poverty to Affluence, 1750–1970 was first published in 1975. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Contemporary Sweden commands a degree of interest and attention from foreigners that is all out of proportion to its small size and its present position among the world powers. The country, at least since the publication of Marquis Childs's book Sweden: The Middle Way in 1936, has become synonymous with the idea of a welfare state or cradle-to-grave social security. But accurate, unbiased information about the development of modern Sweden has been scanty, and this book is designed to fill the gap.

Thirteen Swedish scholars—historians, political scientists, sociologists, and an economist—look at particular aspects of Swedish history over the last two centuries. Steven Koblik, the editor, provides an extensive general introduction as well as brief introductions as background for each of the essays.

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Swedish Exodus
Lars Ljungmark. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg
Southern Illinois University Press, 1979

"America fever" gripped Sweden in the middle of the nineteenth century, seethed to a peak in 1910, when one-fifth of the world’s Swedes lived in America, cooled during World War I, and chilled to dead ash with the advent of the Great Depression in 1930.

Swedish Exodus, the first English translation and revision of Lars Ljungmark’s Den Stora Utvandringen, recounts more than a century of Swedish emigration, concentrating on such questions as who came to America, how the character of the emigrants changed with each new wave of emigration, what these people did when they reached their adopted country, and how they gradually became Americanized.

Ljungmark’s essential challenge was to capture in a factual account the broad sweep of emigration history. But often he narrows his focus to look closely at those who took part in this mass migration. Through historical records and personal letters, Ljungmark brings many of these people back to life. One young woman, for example, loved her parents, but loved America more: "I never expect to speak to you in this life. . . . Your loving daughter unto death." Like most immigrants, she never expected to return. Another immigrant wrote back seeking a wife: "I wonder how you have it and if you are living. . . . Are you married or unmarried? If you are unmarried, you can have a good home with me."

Ljungmark also focuses closely on some of the leaders: Peter Cassel, a liberal temperance supporter and free-church leader whose community in America prospered; Hans Mattson, a colonel in the Civil War and founder of a colony in Minnesota; Erik Jansson, a book burner, self-proclaimed messiah, and founder of the Bishop Hill Colony; Gustaf Unonius, a student idealist and founder of a Wisconsin colony that faltered.

The story of Swedish immigrants in the United States is the story in miniature of the greatest mass migration in human history, that of thirty-five million Europeans who left their homes to come to America. It is a human story of interest not only to Swedes but to everyone.


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Swedish-American Borderlands
New Histories of Transatlantic Relations
Dag Blanck
University of Minnesota Press, 2021

Reframing Swedish–American relations by focusing on contacts, crossings, and convergences beyond migration 

Studies of Swedish American history and identity have largely been confined to separate disciplines, such as history, literature, or politics. In Swedish–American Borderlands, this collection edited by Dag Blanck and Adam Hjorthén seeks to reconceptualize and redefine the field of Swedish–American relations by reviewing more complex cultural, social, and economic exchanges and interactions that take a broader approach to the international relationship—ultimately offering an alternative way of studying the history of transatlantic relations. 

Swedish–American Borderlands studies connections and contacts between Sweden and the United States from the seventeenth century to today, exploring how movements of people have informed the circulation of knowledge and ideas between the two countries. The volume brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences to investigate multiple transcultural exchanges between Sweden and the United States. Rather than concentrating on one-way processes or specific national contexts, Swedish–American Borderlands adopts the concept of borderlands to examine contacts, crossings, and convergences between the nations, featuring specific case studies of topics like jazz, architecture, design, genealogy, and more.

By placing interactions, entanglements, and cross-border relations at the center of the analysis, Swedish–American Borderlands seeks to bridge disciplinary divides, joining a diverse set of scholars and scholarship in writing an innovative history of Swedish–American relations to produce new understandings of what we perceive as Swedish, American, and Swedish American. 

Contributors: Philip J. Anderson, North Park U; Jennifer Eastman Attebery, Idaho State U; Marie Bennedahl, Linnaeus U; Ulf Jonas Björk, Indiana U–Indianapolis; Thomas J. Brown, U of South Carolina; Margaret E. Farrar, John Carroll U; Charlotta Forss, Stockholm U; Gunlög Fur, Linnaeus U; Karen V. Hansen, Brandeis U; Angela Hoffman, Uppsala U; Adam Kaul, Augustana College; Maaret Koskinen, Stockholm U; Merja Kytö, Uppsala U; Svea Larson, U of Wisconsin–Madison; Franco Minganti, U of Bologna; Frida Rosenberg, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm; Magnus Ullén, Stockholm U.


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A Tiny Spot on the Earth
The Political Culture of the Netherlands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Piet de Rooy
Amsterdam University Press, 2015
In this survey of the Dutch political culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Piet de Rooy reveals that the 'polder model' often used to describe economic and social policymaking based on consensus is a myth. Instead, modern political culture in the Dutch Low Countries began with a revolution and is rife with rivalries among political and ideological factions. De Rooy argues that because of its extremely open economy, the country is vulnerable to external political, cultural, and economic pressures, and Dutch politics is a balancing act between profiting from international developments and maintaining sovereignty. The sudden rise of populism and Euroscepticism at the turn of the millennium, then, indicated a loss of this balance. Shining new light on the political culture of the Netherlands, this book provides insights into the polder model and the principles of pillarization in Dutch society.The Dutch edition of this book, Ons stipje op de wereldkaart, was awarded the Prinsjesboekenprijs for the best book on Dutch national politics in 2014.

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Up in the Rocky Mountains
Writing the Swedish Immigrant Experience
Jennifer Eastman Attebery
University of Minnesota Press, 2007

Before the turn of the twentieth century, many Swedish men emigrated to the American Rockies as itinerant laborers, drawn by the region’s developing industries. Single Swedish women ventured west, too, and whole families migrated, settling into farm communities. By 1920, one-fifth of all Swedish immigrants were living in the West.

In Up in the Rocky Mountains, Jennifer Eastman Attebery offers a new perspective on Swedish immigrants’ experiences in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico from 1880 to 1917 by interpreting their letters home. Considering more than three hundred letters, Attebery analyzes their storytelling, repetitive language, traditional phrasing, and metaphoric images. Recognizing the letters’ power as a folk form, Attebery sees in them the writers’ relationships back in Sweden as well as their encounters with religious and labor movements, regionalism, and nationalism in their new country.

By defining personal letters as a vernacular genre, Attebery provides a model for discerning immigrants’ shared culture in correspondence collections. By studying their words, she brings to life small Swedish communities throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Jennifer Eastman Attebery is professor of English and director of American studies at Idaho State University.


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Urban Planning in the Nordic World
Ellen Braae
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022

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Urbanization in Viking Age and Medieval Denmark
From Landing Place to Town
Maria Corsi
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
This study traces the history of urbanization in Denmark from c. 500-1350 and explores how interconnected political, religious, economic factors were instrumental in bringing about the growth of towns. Prior to urban development, certain specialized sites such as elite residences and coastal landing places performed many of the functions that would later be taken over by medieval towns. Fundamental changes in political power, the coming of Christianity, and economic development over the course of the Viking and Middle Ages led to the abandonment of these sites in favour of new urban settlements that would come to form the political, religious, and economic centres of the medieval kingdom. Bringing together both archaeological and historical sources, this study illustrates not only how certain cultural and economic shifts were crucial to the development of towns, but also the important role urbanization had in the transition from Viking to medieval Denmark.

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The Viking Coloring Book
Dayanna Knight
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017

What do you think of when you think of the Vikings? Fierce warriors? Sailors of magnificent dragon-prowed ships who terrorized North-Western Europe? Do you think of darkened halls thick with smoke and song?

Like all people those researchers now consider to be Viking were much more complex than the modern world sees them as. This coloring book is meant to show that. It is designed to provide scenes of the beauty of the early medieval world the Vikings inhabited. It is in this context that Viking cultures developed. You will find artifacts and animals, plants and landscapes within these pages to explore. Species that held some use to the Vikings, such as those that provided fur in particular have been focused on. Reconstructed scenes are inspired by the diverse world experienced in the north. There are no horned helmets here. The real Vikings were much more practical than that.


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The Viking Eastern Baltic
Marika Mägi
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
This book demonstrates howcommunication networks over the BalticSea and further east were establishedand how they took different forms in thenorthern and the southern halves of theEastern Baltic. Changes in archaeologicalevidence along relevant trade routessuggest that the inhabitants of present-day Finland and the Baltic States weremore engaged in Viking easternmovement than is generally believed.

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Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques
William R. Short
Westholme Publishing, 2009
A History of the Arms, Armor, and Individual Fighting Strategies of Medieval Europe’s Most Feared Warriors
A source of enduring fascination, the Vikings are the most famous raiders of medieval Europe. Despite the exciting and compelling descriptions in the Icelandic sagas and other contemporary accounts that have fueled this interest, we know comparatively little about Viking age arms and armor as compared to weapons from other historical periods. We know even less about how the weapons were used. While the sagas provide few specific combat details, the stories are invaluable. They were written by authors familiar with the use of weapons for an audience that, likewise, knew how to use them. Critically, the sagas describe how these weapons were wielded not by kings or gods, but by ordinary men, as part of their everyday lives. Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques provides an introduction to the arms and armor of the people who lived in Northern Europe during the Viking age, roughly the years 793–1066. Using a variety of available sources, including medieval martial arts treatises, and copiously illustrated with images of historical artifacts, battle sites, and demonstrations of modern replicas of Viking weapons, the author and his colleagues at Hurstwic (a Viking-age living history organization) and at the Higgins Armory Sword Guild have reconstructed the combat techniques of the Viking age and what is known about the defensive and offensive weapons of the time in general. Throughout, the author corrects some popular misconceptions about Viking warriors and warfare, such as the belief that their combat techniques were crude and blunt rather than sophisticated. In addition, the book provides an overview of Viking history and culture, focusing on the importance of weapons to the society as well as the Vikings’ lasting impact on Europe through their expeditions of trade and exploration.

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The Vikings
Sæbjørg Walaker Nordeide
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
<div>The prevailing image of a Viking is frequently that of a fierce male, associated with military expansion and a distinctive material culture, and the Vikings have maintained a resonance in the popular imagination to the present day. This book presents a fresh overview of the Vikings from both conceptual and material perspectives. In an engaging survey, Sæbjørg Walaker Nordeide and Kevin J. Edwards analyse Viking religion, economic life, and material culture in and beyond the Scandic homelands.</div>

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Visions and Victims
Art Melodrama in the Films of Carl Th. Dreyer
Amanda Doxtater
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
Danish film director Carl Th. Dreyer, one of the twentieth century’s most famous filmmakers, is best known for his masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and his midcentury classics, Day of Wrath and Ordet. Both viewers and scholars largely leave his early work, for Nordisk Film, on the shelf, dismissing it as immature melodramatic fare produced for a company known for superficial, popular entertainment. In the received historiography, Dreyer broke with Nordisk in the pursuit of developing his film as a high art, eventually succeeding on the world stage as an auteur and eschewing melodrama in favor of austere art film.

Amanda Doxtater offers a necessary corrective to the narrative of Dreyer’s essentially bifurcated career. Close readings of Dreyer’s Nordisk films alongside his mature work reveal a stylistic throughline Doxtater terms “art melodrama,” a form combining the ambiguity, stylization, and consciousness of art cinema with the heightened emotional expressivity and dramatic embodiments characteristic of melodrama. She argues that Dreyer’s major artistic concerns known from his later work—pathos, authenticity, the embodiment of psychological duress, and so on—find their first expression in his Nordisk melodramas, complicating not only our understanding of his later films but also of his early works, and even our understanding of the melodramatic mode in general. Indeed, extending well beyond the career of a singular director, this book challenges assumptions about the relationship between “low-brow” melodrama and “high-brow” art cinema. 

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The Welfare State and Beyond
Success and Problems in Scandinavia
Gunnar Heckscher
University of Minnesota Press, 1984

The Welfare State and Beyond was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The welfare state emerged in a number of industrialized countries after the First World War as a middle ground between capitalism and socialism. The aim of architects of the welfare state was to abolish the injustices and hardships that accompanied capitalism and to do so without wholesale social or economic revolution. Establishment of the welfare state created something close to euphoria among many observers; it was, it seemed, the answer to many, if not all, troubling social questions. But it eventually became obvious that this type of society was not immune to problems.

In The Welfare State and Beyond Gunnar Heckscher examines four Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden—not to either criticize or defend the welfare state but to shed some light on a number of questions: Has the welfare state achieved what it attempted? Are the results generally held to be satisfactory? What important problems remain unsolved and what types of solutions have been proposed? Although Heckscher has been associated with the Conservative party in Sweden, his objective, clear-eyed analysis cites both the accomplishments of the welfare state and the troubling problems that still await resolution.


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With the Lapps in the High Mountains
A Woman among the Sami, 1907–1908
Emilie Demant Hatt; Edited and translated by Barbara Sjoholm; Foreword by Hugh Beach
University of Wisconsin Press, 2013
With the Lapps in the High Mountains is an entrancing true account, a classic of travel literature, and a work that deserves wider recognition as an early contribution to ethnographic writing. Published in 1913 and available here in its first English translation, it is the narrative of Emilie Demant Hatt's nine-month stay in the tent of a Sami family in northern Sweden in 1907–8 and her participation in a dramatic reindeer migration over snow-packed mountains to Norway with another Sami community in 1908. A single woman in her thirties, Demant Hatt immersed herself in the Sami language and culture. She writes vividly of daily life, women's work, children's play, and the care of reindeer herds in Lapland a century ago.
            While still an art student in Copenhagen in 1904, Demant Hatt had taken a vacation trip to northern Sweden, where she chanced to meet Sami wolf hunter Johan Turi. His dream of writing a book about his people sparked her interest in the culture, and she began to study the Sami language at the University of Copenhagen. Though not formally trained as an ethnographer, she had an eye for detail. The journals, photographs, sketches, and paintings she made during her travels with the Sami enriched her eventual book, and in With the Lapps in the High Mountains she memorably portrays people, dogs, reindeer, and the beauty of the landscape above the Arctic Circle. This English-language edition also includes photographs by Demant Hatt, an introduction by translator Barbara Sjoholm, and a foreword by Hugh Beach, author of A Year in Lapland: Guest of the Reindeer Herders.

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Women at the Early Modern Swedish Court
Power, Risk, and Opportunity
Fabian Persson
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
What was it possible for a woman to achieve at an early modern court? By analysing the experiences of a wide range of women at the court of Sweden, this book demonstrates the opportunities open to women who served at, and interacted with, the court; the complexities of women's agency in a court society; and, ultimately, the precariousness of power. In doing so, it provides an institutional context to women's lives at court, charting the full extent of the rewards that they might obtain, alongside the social and institutional constrictions that they faced. Its longue durée approach, moreover, clarifies how certain periods, such as that of the queens regnant, brought new possibilities. Based on an extensive array of Swedish and international primary sources, including correspondence, financial records and diplomatic reports, it also takes into account the materialities used to create hierarchies and ceremonies, such as physical structures and spaces within the court. Comprehensive in its scope, the book is divided into three parts, which focus respectively on outsiders at court, insiders, and members of the royal family.

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The Ohio State University Press, 2004

Pieter Spierenburg narrates two sensational murder cases among intimates in eighteenth-century Amsterdam. The cases recounted here both resulted from fatal attraction. They represented the darker side of the eighteenth-century revolution in love. This period witnessed great cultural changes affecting personal relationships and emotions. The new ideal of love demanded that couples spend much of their time together and explore each other’s feelings. But this new ideal was meant for married and engaged couples only; for others it meant disaster. Love gone wrong was the theme of the sentimental novels of the age, but it also happened to real people, with fatal consequences.

Written in Blood traces the lives and ultimate fate of Nathaniel Donker, who, together with the help of his mistress, brutally murders and dismembers the wife. The second tale focuses on J. B. F. van Gogh, who falls in love with a prostitute; she later rejects him and, when a letter written with his own blood fails to change her mind, he stabs her to death in a fit of passionate rage.

In Written in Blood, the reader gets two stories for the price of one. And, whereas earlier microhistories have been situated in a village or a small town, the scene here is Amsterdam and its canals. Spierenburg reveals in detail what concepts like honor and gender roles came down to in individual lives. He also shows that these murders produced a strange mixture of modern romantic feelings and traditional notions of honor and shame.


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