Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LT40AB (AF:330862 AR:187576)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
6 out of 12 of SWEDISH LITERATURE 2
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
1st Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
Locating the subject within the study plan of the BA-programme

Swedish Literature 2 module 2 is offered to students of Swedish at the second year of their BA-programme in Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, literary-cultural curriculum. Swedish Literature 2 (12 ects) is thus divided into two modules; module 1 will be held by professor Culeddu. Obs.! In the academic year 2021-22, due to the professors’ needs, module 2 (Ciaravolo) is held in the first semester whereas module 1 (Culeddu) is held in the second semester (see below).
Swedish Literature 2 (12 ects) can be a freely chosen course for Swedish language students of the other curricula who wish to go deeper into Scandinavian Studies.

History of Swedish Culture (6 ects) is offered to students of Swedish at the second year of their BA-programme in Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, international-political curriculum. History of Swedish Culture is also included in the literary-cultural curriculum at the third year, and as a freely chosen course it is also available to students of the linguistic-philological curriculum, being recommended to students who wish to go deeper into Scandinavian Studies.
Expected results

Swedish Literature 2 module 2 / History of Swedish Culture introduces, in the first part of the course, to the social, political and cultural history of the North, focusing on the last two centuries in order to outline the evolution towards modernity and democracy. The second part of the course will focus on the topic of war in the 20th century, and on the traces that conflicts in Europe and in the world have left in the cultural memory of Scandinavia through literary works.
The aim of the course is to enable students to connect their knowledge of the social, political and cultural history of Scandinavia with the analysis of the proposed literary works, in order to reflect upon the 20th century and its wounds, seen from a Nordic perspective.
The course is available to the students of the three curricula at Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, who have already attended Swedish Literature 1. Skills in Swedish language will allow the more advanced students to approach the original texts. The study of the texts in their original language is possible but not mandatory; the proposed texts exist in Italian translation.

20th-century Scandinavia and the experience of war

During the first half of the 20th century, Scandinavia develops a democratic model based on welfare state, while disruptive, violent and totalitarian tendencies prevail in many parts of Europe. The Scandinavian countries choose neutrality during World War I and their economy prospers, while Finland experiences a bloody civil war in 1917-18, the outcome of which is the republic. In spite of a desire for peace and neutrality, the whole Nordic area is directly involved in World War II from 1939 to 1945: with the Winter War between USSR and Finland; the Germans’ invasion of Denmark and Norway; Sweden’s neutrality, obtained at the price of heavy compromises with Nazi Germany; the persecution of Jews, political opponents and partisans and the actions to rescue them. After World War II, Norway goes through a tough confrontation with Nazi collaborators. The postwar decades, with their economic boom and widespread material wealth, correspond to the peak of the welfare system, but the young generations’ protest in the Sixties show the first “cracks in the wall”. It finds expression also in a strong critique of the Cold War, of the superpowers and their imperialism and, above all, of the USA and their war against Vietnam.
The whole period leaves relevant traces in the cultural memory of Scandinavia. In the course, we will examine and discuss some of them, especially literary works (prose and poetry) as well as historical and cultural sources.


Knut Hamsun 1949, Per i sentieri dove cresce l’erba, Roma: Fazi 2014 / På gjengrodde stier

Herbjørg Wassmo 1981, La veranda cieca, Milano: Iperborea 1999 / Huset med det blinde glassveranda

Carl-Henning Wijkmark 1997, Tu che non ci sei, Milano: Iperborea 2000 / Du som ej finns

Annika Thor 1997, Un’isola nel mare, Milano: Feltrinelli 2002 / En ö i havet

Kjell Westö 2013, Miraggio 38, Milano: Iperborea 2017 / Hägring 38

Poems by Arnulf Øverland, Inger Hagerup, Gunvor Hofmo, Karl Vennberg, Ivan Malinowski, Jan Erik Vold, Göran Sonnevi and Pia Tafdrup.

Students who have attended the course will choose 3 of the 5 prose works mentioned above to prepare for the examination. All 5 works will be presented and discussed at the course. The poems will be gathered by the professor in a little anthology, and uploaded on Moodle to be used in class.


From Hannah Arendt 1963, La banalità del male. Eichmann a Gerusalemme, Milano: Feltrinelli 2007, pp. 177-182 (the part on Denmark) / The Banality of Evil

Elisabeth Åsbrink 2018, Made in Sweden. Le parole che hanno fatto la Svezia, Milano: Iperborea 2021 / Orden som formade Sverige

Massimo Ciaravolo 2021, Profilo di storia culturale, sociale e politica del Nord (dagli inizi del 1800 ai giorni nostri), (course notes, pdf on Moodle)

da Massimo Ciaravolo (a cura di) 2019, Storia delle letterature scandinave, Milano: Iperborea 2019:
- all the first paragraphs, called “Introduzione”, in the eight chapters (1.1: 19-29; 2.1: 105-12; 3.1: 161-4; 4.1: 207-13; 5.1: 281-4; 6.1: 385-90; 7.1: 533-41; 8.1: 621-9They are written by Massimo Ciaravolo, except 2.1, written by M. Ciaravolo and Andrea Meregalli
- the parts on the studied authors: on Knut Hamsun (357-63 by Sara Culeddu); on Arnulf Øveland (397-8 by S. Culeddu); on Inger Hagerup (464-5 by S. Culeddu); on Karl Vennberg (542-5 by Davide Finco); on Gunvor Hofmo (559-60 by S. Culeddu); on Carl-Henning Wijkmark (657-8 by M. Ciaravolo); on Herbjørg Wassmo (673-4 by S. Culeddu); on Ivan Malinowski (675-6 by Bruno Berni); on Pia Tafdrup (684 by B. Berni); on Göran Sonnevi (687-9 by M. Ciaravolo); on Jan Erik Vold (709-11 by S. Culeddu); on Kjell Westö (807-9 by M. Ciaravolo); on Annika Thor (850 by Laura Cangemi; 892-3 by M. Ciaravolo)

Additional syllabus for students who have not attended the course, or who have attended it in part. Optional further reading

Students who have not attended the course must talk to the professor during his office hours before the exam.
The students who have not attended the course will have to prepare the five proposed prose works.
Students who have already attended the course Swedish Literature 2 (module 2), and are attending History of Swedish Culture now, do not have to attend the first lectures (approximately 5) on Scandinavian cultural history until the 20th century. They should start following from the part on the 20th century and the world conflicts (the professor will give instructions on Moodle). These students are considered to have attended the course, if they follow its second part, as indicated above.

Additional and optional materials by the professor, useful for those who want to go deeper. They will be uploaded on Moodle as pdf-files:

Massimo Ciaravolo 2005, “La voce di Cordelia Edvardson, ‘bambina bruciata’”, in Alessandro Costazza (a cura di), Rappresentare la Shoah, Milano, Cisalpino, pp. 85-107.

Massimo Ciaravolo 2007, “Steffi e Nelli del ‘Kindertransport’. Shoah e letteratura per ragazzi in Svezia”, in ACME. Annali della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell’Università degli Studi di Milano, LX:1, pp. 343-359.

Massimo Ciaravolo 2014, “Gunvor Hofmo. Un mondo senza Ruth”, Poesia, 299, Dicembre 2014, pp. 2-15.

The examination is oral, it is generally in Italian and lasts approximately 25 minutes. Two questions deal with the cultural, social and political history of the North: one more general question is about one period from the origins to the Enlightenment, and one more specific question is about the last two centuries and the progress towards modernity and democracy. Two more questions will discuss some of the literary works that were presented in the course, connecting them to their historical, cultural and social contexts, and to the secondary sources included in the syllabus.
The students not attending the course must study the additional materials that are indicated. They must come and talk to the professor at least once before the oral examination.
Obs.! The official registration of the examination Swedish literature 2 (12 ects) can take place first in June 2022, as module 1 is held in the second semester; the students can, however, take module 2 with professor Ciaravolo already from January 2022.

Didactic methods

The course offers mainly frontal lectures, but with moments of participatory learning, as students may, on a voluntary basis, present in class one of the works included in the syllabus. When a student presents a work in class, she/he does not have to prepare it again for the examination. Italian is the language used in teaching, and the novels will be basically presented and studied in Italian translation; the poems will be presented both in the original Scandinavian language and in Italian.
It must be pointed out that it will not be possible, during the presentation and analysis in class, to omit parts of the plot and not even the end of the novels, in order not to “spoil” the reading. The suggestion is, therefore, to read the novels in advance.

More information

If you have questions or need further explanations, please write to massimo.ciaravolo@unive.it. Booking time with an e-mail is recommended if you want to meet the professor. Student who cannot attend the course must contact the teacher in order to discuss the syllabus with the supplementary reading.

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "International cooperation" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 30/09/2021