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uni'wissen 01-2015

“We see what we already know and are confirmed in our preconceived notions.” of modernity and progress – as a contrast to the old-fashioned countries of the South. German philology, says Grage, claimed Scandinavian literature as its own, citing a kinship due to the people’s common roots: “Since the languages are related,” they reasoned, “the people must be related too.” The fact that Scandinavian studies were integrated into German studies depart- ments at German universities and did not have their own departments with their own professor- ships up until the 1970s is a clear expression of this appropriation of Scandinavian literature. France and Belgium, by contrast, maintained a more neutral and comparative view. The popularity of Scandinavian detective novels, the unconventional female protagonist Lisbeth Salander in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, the model character of Scandinavia with regard to school systems and the welfare state, the Swedish furniture store chain as the yardstick for uncomplicated home decor, Norwegian fjord landscapes as the embodiment of unspoiled nature, the childhood idyll in the stories of Astrid Lindgren – all of this is likely to resonate when Germans think of the Nordic countries today. As Grage and Mohnike show, these images are part of a long tradition. But they do not show the entire picture: “We see what we already know and are confirmed in our preconceived notions.” with-words Further Reading Livingstone, D. N. (2003): Putting science in its place. Geographies of scientific knowledge. Chicago. Mohnike, T. (2010): Eine im Raum verankerte Wissenschaft? In: Nordeuropa-Forum 20/1-2, pp. 63–85. Mohnike, T. (2013): Frédéric-Guillaume / Friedrich-Wilhelm Bergmann und die Geburt der Skandinavistik in Frankreich aus dem Geiste der vergleichenden Philologie. In: Hoff, K. / Schöning, U. / Øhrgaard, P. (Eds): Kulturelle Dreiecksbeziehungen. Aspekte der Kulturvermittlung zwischen Frankreich, Deutschland und Dänemark in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Würzburg, pp. 277–297. Dr. Thomas Mohnike studied art history, theater, and religious studies in the USA in 1993/94 and Scan- dinavian and Germanic linguistics, literature, and culture in Kiel, Uppsala/ Sweden, and Berlin from 1994 to 2001. In 2006 he earned his PhD at the Uni- versity of Freiburg. From 2003 to 2010 he coordinated the Scandinavian studies network of the European Confederation of Universities on the Upper Rhine (Eucor). Since 2009 he has served as director of the Depart- ment of Scandinavian Stud- ies at the University of Strasbourg. His research interests include imaginary geographies – construc- tions of identity and alterity in Northern Europe, the transnational history of Scandinavian studies, and the reception of Norse mythology since the Middle Ages. Photo: Hanspeter Trefzer Prof. Dr. Joachim Grage studied German, chemistry, and Scandinavian philology in Göttingen and Copenha- gen/Denmark. After earn- ing his PhD in Scandinavian and German philology in 1999, he worked in succes- sion as research assistant, junior professor, and, from 2004 to 2006, as director of the Department of Scan- dinavian Studies in Göttin- gen. He has served as professor of North Germanic philology (modern literature and culture) and director of the Department of Scan- dinavian Studies of the University of Freiburg since 2008. His research inter- ests include Scandinavian literatures from the 17th century to the present, liter- ary practices and the performativity of literature, Søren Kierkegaard, nature poetry and literary discourses of nature, and Scandinavian- German cultural relations. Photo: private 11uni wissen 01 2015 11uni wissen 012015