Department ofLanguages & Literatures

Why Study Norwegian?

“Hvis litteraturen ikke fantes, ville mange tanker bli usynlige”

(If literature didn’t exist, many thoughts would remain invisible).  

--Lars Saabye Christensen, Norwegian author

Studying the literature, language and film of Norway allows us to step out of the box of home to explore beyond the language and culture  we  know.  This is a valuable enterprise in a world that increasingly requires that all of us have experience in a global setting.

Courses: Courses allow us to see through the lens of a small country that is both an important player in international peace negotiations and a site of multicultural change.  A wish to explore, enter into a rigorous study of texts, and engage the questions literature and film pose to us, are the elements of a Norwegian major.  Learning the Norwegian language increases awareness of the importance of preserving small language groups as voices to be heard in the global community.  Students in the Norwegian Program link the reading of texts to critical inquiry in three main areas:

1)  Explorations of cultural and national identity in times of change.  An understanding of Norway in the 21st century is central to this inquiry;

2)  Expressions of the human experience of conflict, displacement and social injustice;

3)  Questions of authority based on gender, class, regional identity, or ethnicity.

Though most of the courses in literature and film are taught in English, the understanding of Norwegian language and culture is cultivated in each individual student. 

 Comparative Contexts: Is it Norway and only Norway we explore? Not at all. Norwegian language, literature, and film are investigated within the context of the larger Scandinavian and global communities.  Most of our majors choose to double major. This brings diversity to the community of learners and allows for much valuable exchanges of ideas.  Combining the Norwegian major with a major in history, political science, English, global studies, or environmental studies is common.

 Study in Scandinavia: We encourage our students to “go away” as well -- go away to Norway, that is!  There are two PLU programs in Norway for which students can earn credit for the Norwegian major: the program in Telemark studies regional identity, literature, and language within a region of the country known for its outdoor life and folk traditions; and the program in Hedmark studies democracy, development, and peace from a Norwegian perspective.  A January-term course offers a one-of-kind study of language conflict and language policy on-site in Norway and Iceland.

 Explore: When it comes down to it, a major in Norwegian is definitely not about the lutefisk and lefse of  the Norwegian-American population: It is about you and the avenues you choose to learn about the world.  You don’t have to be of Norwegian heritage to be a Norwegian major!

For more information, feel free to contact Associate Professor Claudia Berguson (x7512) and Associate Professor Troy Storfjell (x8514).