Nordic Studies

The Nordic studies program enables students who enter St. Olaf with advanced competence in Norwegian (or another Nordic language) or those who wish a more interdisciplinary approach than that offered by the Norwegian major an opportunity to pursue their interest in Nordic language, culture, and society.

Overview of the Concentration

The Nordic studies concentration at St. Olaf College is designed to meet the needs of students who wish a more interdisciplinary study of the Nordic cultures than that offered through the Norwegian major. The Nordic studies concentration is an interdisciplinary study of the language, literature, history, and culture of the Nordic countries. It is a self-designed combination of courses, approved by the Director of Nordic Studies, who is also the chair of the Norwegian Department.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Concentration

Special Programs

The Norwegian Department sponsors many speakers and activities relevant to the Nordic studies concentration such as the annual Christmas service and Seventeenth of May celebration and provides students with the opportunity to live in a language house with a native speaker assistant. The Norwegian-American Historical Association, a rich source of information on Norwegian immigration, is housed in Rølvaag Memorial Library. Many students choose to study in a Nordic country on a variety of programs such as the Oslo International Summer School and the St. Olaf-sponsored programs in Norway and Denmark. Norwegian professors also participate in the Foreign Language Across the Curriculum (FLAC) program, collaborating with disciplinary professors to offer students the opportunity to use their foreign language skills in selected courses in other departments.

The Nordic studies concentration consists of five courses. At least two of the five courses must have a focus on at least one Nordic country other than Norway.

One Norwegian language course beyond FOL-N:
NORW 232Intermediate Norwegian II (or above) 11.00
Select one or two other courses from Norwegian department offerings selected from the following:1.00-2.00
Nordic Film Today
Norway: Continuity and Change
Topics in Contemporary Nordic Literature: Rewriting Nordic Identities
The Sámi: Traditions in Transition
Advanced Conversation and Composition
Norwegian Literature: An Overview
Topics in Norwegian Literature/Culture
Others, as approved by the director
Two or three courses from other departments, such as:2.00-3.00
Modern Scandinavia
Kierkegaard and Existentialism
Other courses with significant content relating to the Nordic countries
Up to three courses from study abroad programs such as DIS, HECUA: The New Norway, and university direct-enroll programs may be counted toward the Nordic studies concentration3.00
One course may be taken S/U.

To become a Nordic studies concentrator, contact the Director of Nordic Studies and inform the registrar by completing the digital form found on the SIS (Student Information System).

NORST 200: Transdisciplinary Topics in Nordic Studies

Students explore an interdisciplinary topic in language, literature, history, or culture through close reading, discussion, analysis, and interpretation of selected works, including theoretical texts. Recent topics include: Peace and non-violence from a Nordic Perspective, The Immigrant Experience: From Nordic to Contemporary Immigration to Minnesota, Nordic-American heritage, Social Welfare in the Nordic context. Taught in English. May be repeated if topics are different. Offered periodically. Some topics may count toward Norwegian major.

NORST 264: Nordic Explorations of Sexualities and Genders

This course examines how women writers from the Nordic region represent gendered identities and sexualities. Using a variety of texts from the nineteenth century to today, students will learn how authors have challenged the socio-political role of women over time. Additionally, students will investigate how authors make use of different literary genres such as dystopian writing, crime fiction, magical realism, or sci-fi to shine a light on gendered identities in society. Offered alternate years during the spring semester. Also counts toward Norwegian and women's and gender studies majors and women's and gender studies concentration.
Prerequisite: FYW.

NORST 280: Nordic Film Directors

Numerous Nordic film directors have been celebrated around the world for their important contributions to the art of cinema. In this course students both survey Nordic cinema through chosen examples of such celebrated directors, while also scrutinizing the idea of the film author itself. It asks students to consider what it is about these particular filmmakers that make them special and different from both mainstream and non-Nordic ones. Offered periodically.

NORST 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.

Examples of Courses from Outside the Norwegian Department

HIST 169 From Fjord to Frontier: Norwegian-American History in Literature

HIST 211 Viking and Medieval Scandinavia

HIST 222 Modern Scandinavia

Music Performance: Hardanger Fiddle Lessons

PHIL 233 Kierkegaard and Existentialism

PSCI 283 European Social Democracy

PSCI 382 Seminar: The Geopolitics of Eurasian Energy

REL 213 Lutheran Heritage (if paper deals with Scandinavian Lutherans)

Director, 2020-2021

Kari Lie Dorer

Associate Professor of Norwegian

Norwegian language and culture; applied linguistics; Sami studies; Nordic film.

Jenna M. Coughlin

Visiting Assistant Professor

David E. Jessup

Adjunct Instructor in History

modern Nordic and Nordic-American history

Ida Moen Johnson

Visiting Associate Professor of Norwegian

Björn Nordfjörd

Visiting Associate Professor of English

American cinema; world cinema; crime fiction; adaptation and narrative theory

Tanya Thresher

Visiting Associate Professor of Norwegian