In many countries in seventeenth-century Europe, women were forbidden to dress like men, and in some it was criminal. Dekker and Van de Pool note that the prohibitions were unusually strict in Europe compared to other cultures.
A conversation between postdoc Lucie Duggan, PI of the Augustinus-funded research project Reading Women. Karen Brahe and Female Book Ownership (1609-1736), SDU, and Professor Anne-Marie Mai, editor of Nordic Women’s Literature, SDU, on Lucie Duggan’s research project.
Nordic Women’s Literature has moved to a new location at the University of Southern Denmark, which will host the work in the future. A group of researchers from the University of Southern Denmark will edit new material for the major site.
Nordic Women’s Literary History was published in five volumes in the period 1993 to 1998. In 2017, it was increased by a sixth volume on recent Nordic literature.
Around the 2000s, the personal, once again, became political and a new generation of female poets has since been addressing the globalized, mediarised reality through themes such as gender, identity and the body.Through their poetry, connections are created between intimate, bodily affairs and global issues such as war and climate change as well as questions surrounding white privilege and the traces of colonialism. Among today’s female poets are Mette Moestrup, Aase Berg, Ida Börjel and Gerður Kristný.
A distinct Nordic atmosphere is at the centre of many literary works written after 2000. Snow, silence, darkness and the contrast between a cramped home and nature’s expanse are common features of the linguistic investigation of a female space. This imagery unfolds in the novels and poetry collections of authors such as, Johanna Boholm, Merethe Lindstrøm, Rosa Liksom and Christina Hesselholdt.
After the millennium, globalization and the migration of women from economically unstable countries to the West became a theme in literature. The conception of a global sisterhood was challenged by the reality that many encounters with “other” foreign women were manifestly encounters between an employer and a domestic worker and thereby entailed a superior-inferior relationship. Reflections upon the unequal power relation between women from the Nordic region and their oppressed “sisters” is expressed through au-pair novels, literature about female refugees as well as docuseries and comic strips about the encounter with oppressed women from outside Europe. Examples of authors working with these issues in a literary context are Kirsten Hammann, Sara Kadefors Aasne Linnestå and Åsne Seiersted.
During the 2000s, the biographical and self-biographical narratives of the 1970s were replaced by new hybrid forms that operated in the space between fact and fiction. The genre was employed by both male and female authors, but the female authors in particular, were criticized for transgressing the private sphere in exhibitionist ways.Female exponents of autofiction are, amongst others, Maja Lundgren, Carina Rydberg, Suzanne Brøgger, Anne Lise Marstrand-Jørgensen and Herbjørg Wassmo.
Late-modern children’s literature and young adult fiction in the Nordic countries is bold, vibrant and diverse. Questions surrounding gender, sexuality, identity and the body play a large role and offer children and young adults alternatives to (existing) gender stereotypes. Examples of female authors who have innovated children’s literature and young adult fiction are Dorte Karrebæk, Lene Kaaberbøl, Inga Sætre, Pija Lindenbaum and Anna Höglund.
Nordic novels in the 21st Century are filled with female detectives, gothic heroines and monsters. While the female protagonist in male authored narratives is often transformed into a destructive monster, female authors tend to draw upon supernatural features in order to thematise the female protagonist’s self-realisation and liberation from both the dominant gender contract and traditional family configurations. Leonora Christina Skov, Olga Ravn, Majgull Axelsson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir are among some of the main exponents of the gothic novel.
In the 1970s, the indigenous Sami people of the Cap of the North (the northwesterly arctic tip of Europe consisting of counties in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), and minorities, such as the Swedish Tornedalians, began to mobilise and form organisations. The first literary work written by a Sami woman in a Sami language was published in 1971 and since then, many female authors have followed with works that thematise contradictions between majority and minority cultures. In these works, old Sami myths and oral hand-me-downs are brought to bear in the investigation of a particular female Sami identity. Leading female authors include Rauni Magga Lukkari, Synnøve Persen, Maren Uthaug and Rosa Liksom.