Claustrophic Families. Reading Queer/ly in Changing Contexts. In Conversation with Jenny Björklund

von Nordlitt. Skandinavistische Literaturforschung im Gespräch

nordlitt continues the mini-series on Queer Theory and literature with the help of Jenny Björklund, Uppsala University. We ask what queer literature and reading might mean in a time and place where gay and lesbian parenting has become normalized. Jenny guides us through a novel by Viktoria Myrén about a mother who abandons her children, making literary detours to Victoria Benedictsson, August Strindberg, Margareta Suber, and Sara Stridsberg. We learn about Sweden’s pro-natalist history and wonder if literary deaths can be read as acts of resistance. Last but not least, we emphasize the joy of co-writing and the importance of saying Yes!


(00:00:17)      Introduction Jenny Björklund
(00:00:28)      How Did Jenny Björklund End Up at the Intersection between Literary and Gender Studies?
(00:03:01)      Moving Towards Queer Studies from Gender Studies
(00:06:47)      What Happens to Queer When it Becomes Canonized?
(00:11:36)      The “Pro-Natalist Tradition” in Sweden 
(00:20:06)      Queerness in Literature and Reading 
(00:23:23)      Queer Reading and the Concept of Death
(00:33:54)      Paranoid and Reparative Reading
(00:38:00)      The Body and Figurations
(00:45:38)      Viktoria Myrén’s Novel I en familj finns inga fiender (There Are No Enemies in a Family)
(00:50:52)      Queer Aspects of the Novel
(00:58:26)      Marie as an Unreliable Narrator?
(01:03:02)      The Structure Failing the Individual
(01:06:15)      Leaving and Abandoning
(01:09:54)      Family Conflict as War?
(01:18:09)      Ambiguous Ending 
(01:28:19)      What Advice Would You Give Your Student-Self?


Björklund, Jenny: Maternal Abandonment and Queer Resistance in Twenty-FirstCentury Swedish Literature. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan 2021, p. 187–242 (chapter 5).

Björklund, Jenny; Ann-Sofie Lönngren: “Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Queer Reading Strategies, Swedish Literature, and Historical (In)visibility.” Scandinavian Studies Vol. 92 (3) 2020, p. 196–228. 

Myrén, Viktoria:  I en familj finns inga fiender. Stockholm: Ordfront 2009.

Further Reading:

Ahmed, Sara: The Promise of Happiness. Durham: Duke University Press 2010.

Benedictsson, Victoria: Pengar. Stockholm: Fritze 1885.
            dt.: Geld. Zug: Achius 2003.

Braidotti, Rosi: Nomadic Subjects. Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press 1994.

Braidotti, Rosi: Nomadic Theory. The Portable Braidotti. New York: Columbia University Press 2011. 

Edelmann, Lee: No Future. Durham: Duke University Press 2004.

Halberstam, J.: Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press. 1998.

Krusenstjerna, Agnes von: Frökarna von Pahlen. Stockholm: Bonnier/Spektrum 1930–1935. 

Lambda Nordica

Lee, Mara: Future perfect. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag 2014.

Lönngren, Ann-Sofie: “Triangular, homosocial, lesbian: A queer approach to desire in August Strindberg’s novel A madman’s manifesto“. ContagionVol. 19 2012, p. 205-230.

Schnurbein, Stefanie v.: Krisen der Männlichkeit. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2001.

Schnurbein, Stefanie v.: “How to Postcritique I. Delaying Judgment. In Conversation With Rita Felski”, in Experiment Geisteswissenschaft, 16/03/2023,

Schnurbein, Stefanie v.: “How to Postcritique II. The Necessity of Being Vulnerable. In Conversation With Toril Moi”, in Experiment Geisteswissenschaft, 30/03/2023,

Schnurbein, Stefanie v.: “How to Postcritique III. Tekst som samhandling. I samtale med Kjersti Bale”, in Experiment Geisteswissenschaft, 13/04/2023,

Schnurbein, Stefanie v.: “Impossible Possibilities. Lesbian Love in 1920s Norwegian Literature. In Conversation with Per Esben Svelstad”, in Experiment Geisteswissenschaft, 12/10/2023,

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky: “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re So Paranoid, You probably Think this Essay is About You“. In: Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky: Touching Feeling. Durham: Duke University Press 2003, p. 123—152.

Stridsberg, Sara: Happy Sally. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag 2004.

Strindberg, August: Dödsdansen. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Aldus 1968 [1900].
            engl.: The Dance of Death. London: Bloomsbury 2013.

Suber, Margareta: Charlie. Stockholm: Bonnier 1932.