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CODE 55842
SEMESTER 1° Semester



Scandinavian literature and culture from the origins to Naturalism


This course is meant to offer students a detailed outline of the development of Scandinavian (Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish) literature, by setting the literary phenomena taken into consideration against the backdrop of the historical and social context of the time, and is intended as the first step towards the monographic modules of the advanced courses: therefore, literary texts in Italian translation will be presented.




This course aims to introduce 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.


At the end of the course, students will be aware of and acquainted with the historical, social and literary development of the Scandinavian countries from the origins (Germanic and Scandinavian pre-history, medieval literature) to the 1880s (literary Naturalism) and will be able to critically analyse some of the Scandinavian main literary works, by adequately contextualising them in the different periods, identifying their position in the European canon and highlighting their Nordic or national features. They will therefore be able to:

- describe the main cultural and literary trends of the Scandinavian countries from the Middle Ages to the late nineteenth century;

- identify the different forms of cultural and especially literary influence in Scandinavia by other European cultural areas;

- highlight the Scandinavian contribution and its characteristics of divergence and originality;

- present some of the main figures of the Scandinavian literary canon in the different periods considered;

- detect the elements linked to a specific poetics (e.g. Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism) in the texts considered;

- discuss affinities and differences between works and characters of the selected literary canon.


36 hours (three weekly hours over 12 weeks) of lectures, during which literary, social and historical analyses will be accompanied by comments on single literary works, even with the reading of chosen texts in Italian translation. This activity will be meant to provide students with methodological tools and to promote students’ participation with their remarks. Further activities will be announced during the course.

The course will be entirely held in Italian. Please, ask the teacher for further instructions or in case of doubts.

The course attendance is not compulsory, but highly recommended.

The course will take place in the first term. As well as all the other literary courses for first year students, it corresponds to 6 credits.


This course aims to illustrate the main stages in the cultural evolution of the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) from a literary, a historical and a social point of view, from Scandinavian pre-history to the 1880s. Cultural trends, main authors and the most significant works from each period will be dealt with, while pointing out both the distinctive elements of the Scandinavian area and its relationship with other European literary and cultural traditions. The historical and literary survey will be essentially organized into periods / centuries, but also themes and movements, in a constant comparison of the different ages (and authors) in order to better point out similarities and contrasts and reconstruct causes and courses of the considered phenomena.



Students will have to prove their acquaintance with the course contents, including all the texts examined during the course, and will have to read eight works chosen among a reading list of Scandinavian authors.

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




The course will begin in the first week of the academic year (30th Sep - 4th Oct 2024).

The course schedule will be announced in the previous weeks.



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 teachers’ personal pages or at Genoa university website to be informed about the examination dates).

The examination, as well as the course, will be thoroughly in Italian.

The exam lasts approximately half an hour and is meant to test both the knowledge of the syllabus and reasoning skills. Therefore:

1) Questions will regard history and literary history of Scandinavian countries, their position in the European context, and texts that have been considered during the lessons (or which are included in the list for students who cannot attend the course), on some of which students are asked for a comment.

2) 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.

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 prof. Finco about details of this task in case they cannot attend the course). This research will have to be presented during the exam (not necessarily in a written form).

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).

For final year or Erasmus students special sessions in addition to the seven ordinary ones will be provided: even in this case, the examination days are indicated in the lecturers’ personal pages or in the university website (students are invited to contact the teachers of "Sezione Scandinavistica" to have further information).


In the overall evaluation, not only the knowledge of the syllabus (course topics, texts analysed in class – or included in the specific list for non-attendants – 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: being able to orientate oneself in the different periods of the literary history; to set the considered works (or texts) in the proper context; to compare different authors, ages, nations, movements; to develop a personal critical judgement on the considered phenomena.


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 all material that will be examined will be uploaded.

This course is obligatory for all first year students who have chosen Swedish as Language A or Language B. Other students may insert it in their learning plan, but they are warmly asked to contact the lecturer, 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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