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CODE 65319


This course develops the literary study begun with the monographic parts in the second year, by presenting tools and topics to deal with genres, phenomena and authors. Students will also approach literary texts in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. The intended readings are meant to introduce students to contemporary literature (since the 1950s).




This course aims to introduce the students to a variety of aspects of the cultural and literary history of Nordic countries, while highlighting elements of uniformity and diversity among them and in relation to the rest of the European cultural world.


Students will acquire skills and tools to analyse literary texts linguistically and stylistically, working on the Swedish language, ​and will be introduced to the main peculiarities of Danish and Norwegian, taking literary texts into account as well. Moreover, they will be able to critically deal with the genre of Nordic noir, reflect on the main features of detective stories (and their evolution) and identify the peculiarities of the Scandinavian tradition and trends. 

At the end of the course students will be able to:

- identify and highlight the linguistic strategies of a literary text;

- critically consider the syntactic and semantic characteristics of a literary text at the micro- and macrotextual level;

- describe the peculiarities of August Strindberg's writing;

- highlight phonological, morphosyntactic and, in part, lexical differences between Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, working on literary examples;

- outline the development of crime fiction in Western tradition, while discussing its historical and socio-cultural premises;

- describe and discuss the development of Nordic crime fiction in the context of European literature;

- analyse the strategies adopted in specific works of crime fiction.​


54 hours of classroom activities, articulated in two weekly hours over 9 weeks (part one) in the first term (October to December) and three weekly hours over 12 weeks (parts two and three, each consisting of 18 hours) in the second term (February to May).

The whole course corresponds to 9 credits: students who need only 6 credits have to attend only two parts at their choice.

The course will have a markedly seminar character, therefore students are expected to contribute to analyses and discussions with their own remarks.

As regards the analysis of literary texts in Swedish, the observation of the authors’ stylistic features and linguistic strategies will be the starting point to formalize some concepts and methodologies of textual analysis and to show how the outcomes of the analysis can contribute to the interpretation of the text. This work will be introduced and initially lead by the teacher, but participants will be later asked to contribute with their own examination of assigned excerpts or even texts of their own choice (Swedish literary examples of the 20th or 21st century).

The monographic module on the Nordic noir will initially deal with general considerations on the characteristics of the genre and its history, later focusing on the examination of Scandinavian peculiarities, the most relevant phenomena and the most significant authors. This survey, primarily aimed at stimulating a discussion among the participants, will be finally enriched by their contribution, with the analysis of a Nordic crime fiction work of their choice to be presented during the course.

Further activities will be announced during the course. The course will be entirely held in Italian.

The course attendance is not compulsory, but highly recommended.


PART ONE - August Strindberg's style: introduction to the analysis of literary texts in Swedish
Each author necessarily acts within a specific literary and cultural tradition, which exerts its influence both as a source of inspiration and as the context that hosts the author's innovative contributions. Critical reading of literary texts allows to point out and become aware of a writer’s features and strategies and to obtain useful (sometimes fundamental) information towards a more plausible interpretation of the text. In this part of the course, passages taken from literary works by August Strindberg (Röda Rummet; Taklagsöl) will be examined with and by students.


PART TWO – Introduction to Danish and Norwegian with analysis of literary texts
Scandinavian languages ​​show remarkable similarities, obviously due to the proximity of the respective cultural areas, but also (as regards Danish and Norwegian) to historical-political reasons and common literary tradition along some centuries. Basing our work on the degree of knowledge and skills in the Swedish language expected from third year students, we will examine some of the main phonetic, morphological, lexical and stylistic differences of Danish and Norwegian ​through the reading of some literary prose excerpts. In the case of Norwegian, the survey will be introduced by a reconstruction of the main cultural and political events (including the numerous linguistic reforms) in which the complex question of language was articulated between the late 19th and the early 20th century.


PART THREE - The Nordic noir: origins, evolution and trends of a contemporary international breakthrough

Crime fiction is undoubtedly one of the genres that characterize the contemporary world, in particular the industrialized urban society. Its origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, but it is in the 20th century that criminal stories and investigations flourish, in a fruitful union between literary, film and television versions. In the last twenty years, crime fiction has become one of the international brands of Nordic literature, from Finland to Iceland, passing through Sweden where Stieg Larsson’s Millennium triggered the breakthrough of Nordic noir writers overwhelming bookstores all over Europe. In this part of the course, the principles and features of this genre will be highlighted, later on moving to a historical-literary examination of the main Scandinavian authors and phenomena. Starting from these analyses, students will be asked to contribute with their own survey of a Scandinavian crime novel at their choice.


Storia delle letterature scandinave. Dalle origini a oggi, a cura di Massimo Ciaravolo, Milano, Iperborea 2019, pp. 589-940.


For PART ONE - Analyses of literary texts in Swedish:

August Strindberg, Röda Rummet, text available at

A. Strindberg, La Sala Rossa, trad. di Attilio Veraldi, Milano, Rizzoli (1986) 2002

A. Strindberg, Taklagsöl, text available at

A. Strindberg, La festa del coronamento, trad. di Franco Perrelli, Milano, Carbonio Editore 2022


For PART TWO - Introduction to Danish and Norwegian:

Anna Wegener, Inger-Marie Willert Bortignon, Luca Panieri, Grammatica danese. Fonetica, morfologia, sintassi ed esercizi, Milano, Hoepli 2013

Irene Burdese, Cathrine Rysst, Lær deg norsk! Corso di lingua norvegese, Milano, Hoepli 2015

All literary excerpts that will be examined in class will have been regularly uploaded on Aulaweb.


For PART THREE - The Nordic noir:

Gunhild Agger, Anne Marit Waade (red.), Den skandinaviske krimi. Bestseller og blockbuster, Göteborg, Nordicom, 2010

Elvio Guagnini, Dal giallo al noir e oltre: declinazioni del poliziesco italiano, Formia, Ghenomena, 2010

Michael Tapper, Snuten i Skymningslandet. Svenska polisberättelser i roman och på film 1965- 2010, Lund-Falun, Nordic Academic Press, 2011

Barry Forshaw, Death in a Cold Climate. A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillian, 2012

Kerstin Bergman, Swedish Crime Fiction, the Making of Nordic Noir, Sesto San Giovanni, Mimesis International, 2014

Steven Peacock, Swedish Crime Fiction: Novel, Film, Television, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2014

Michael Tapper, Swedish Cops: from Sjöwahl & Wahlöö to Stieg Larsson, United Kingdom, Intellect Books, 2014

Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Scandinavian Crime Fiction, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2017

Renato Zatti, “Il giallo nordico”, in Massimo Ciaravolo (a cura di), Storia delle letterature scandinave. Dalle origini a oggi, Milano, Iperborea, 2019, pp. 818-844


Further critical bibliography will be announced during the course.


Students are expected to know the contents of the lessons, including all the texts which will be examined during the course, and will have to read eight works of contemporary Scandinavian literature (two for each country: Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland). These works may be read in any translation (or in Scandinavian languages, at students’ choice). In addition to, candidates who need 9 credits will have to read some tales or essays in Swedish and to be able to translate them (some passages will be chosen by the teacher during the exam) into Italian and summarize them in Swedish. In details:

Hjalmar Söderberg, “Tuschritningen”, “Drömmen om evigheten”, “Pälsen” and “Skuggan” (in Historietter, 1898), available at o

Michael Tapper, “Hans kropp – samhället självt. Manliga svenska mordspanare på ålderns höst” or another essay from Den skandinaviske krimi, available at 

For details about the programme, the reading list and all the material for students who cannot attend the lessons, please contact the teacher at




Lessons will start in the first week of the first term (30th Sep - 4th Oct 2024).

The course schedule will be announced in the previous weeks.



An oral exam at the end of the course or in the following exam sessions (seven every year, apart from reserved sessions for final year or Erasmus students: we recommend to look at the teacher's personal page or at Genoa university website to be informed about the examination dates).

The examination takes place in Italian, but it includes a part in Swedish (see point 3).

The exam lasts approximately forty minutes and is meant to test both the knowledge of the syllabus and reasoning skills. Therefore:

1) The eight readings indicated in the bibliography are integral part of the programme: students have to prove that they have read the chosen works and are expected to add personal analyses, observations, comparisons and evaluations based on the literary knowledge and skills acquired in the course. As regards this part of the exam, the examiners, of course, will take into proper account that these works have not been analysed in class, but that, however, they are a meaningful integration of the course topics.

2) To evaluate the skills acquired in the first part of the course, students will be asked to read, translate and comment on (both theoretically and in praxis) some passages in Swedish taken from the examined texts. Further passages will be assigned before the examination for personal analysis.

3) Students are, moreover, requested to make a little, autonomous research on a topic at their choice, provided that it is related to the course programme. To fulfil this task, students may adopt a literary, historical, social, cultural, comparative or interdisciplinary perspective, according to general instructions that will be given during the course (students are expected to ask the lecturer about details of this task in case they cannot attend the course). This research will have to be presented in Swedish during the exam (not necessarily in a written form).

Students are allowed to divide the programme into (no more than) two parts to be prepared for two different exam sessions at their choice. The final evaluation will consider the results of both parts (however, they must be both sufficient, i.e. both evaluated at least with 18/30) and students are free to take the exam(s) as many times as they wish to take a better evaluation.

The final mark is announced at the end of the exam and it can be refused by the candidate. In case of a refused mark or a failed exam, the candidate may always sit the exam in the following session (no limit is prescribed in the number of attempts).


In the overall evaluation, not only the knowledge of the syllabus (course topics, texts analysed in class – or included in the specific list – and readings) and reasoning skills, but also expository skills and accuracy in the use of the specific language of the discipline will be taken into account.

The main skills that will be evaluated are: capability of orientating oneself in the different periods of the literary history, setting the considered works (or texts) in the proper context, comparing different authors, ages, nations, movements, and adding a personal critical judgement on the considered phenomena, mainly basing on competences acquired and critical contributions presented during the course.

The part of the exam that has to be taken in Swedish is aimed to make students confident with speaking even in this language on formal subjects, like literature and culture. This is the reason why students will have freedom of choice and, in any case, the evaluation of their language skills will not be as strict as that required in a typical language assessment. Nonetheless, the complexity and originality of the chosen topic, as well as the adopted methodology and the linguistic skills students will be able to show, will be taken in appropriate account to formulate the final evaluation.


Students will not have to formally enrol in this course; however, this course – as any other – is to be inserted in the learning plan to be officially acknowledged.

Those who want to take the exam must enrol through the university website within three days before the examination. Participants in the course will have to log in the Aulaweb platform, where material that will be examined will be uploaded.

This course is obligatory for all third year students who have chosen Swedish as Language A or Language B in the curriculum “Lingue, letterature e culture moderne”. Other students may insert it in their learning plan, but they are warmly asked to contact the teacher, even to have a specific programme designed according to their own academic needs.

Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with prof. Sara Dickinson (, the Department's disability liaison. Further information available at

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