Entertaining Intertexts. Henrik Ibsen’s Use of Popular Theatre. In Conversation with Ellen Rees

von Nordlitt. Skandinavistische Literaturforschung im Gespräch

Ellen Rees from the Center for Ibsen Studies at Oslo University introduces Henrik Ibsen as a theatre practitioner. She unfolds surprising resonances between French musical comedies by Eugène Scribe and Henrik Ibsen’s most famous plays, A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler. We question romantic distinctions between high literature and popular theatre, and discuss Ellen’s new theory on Ibsen’s way to realism through the vaudeville. We are confronted with deadly links between money and love, and are reminded of the existence of academic bullying. But in the end, we are reminded of the joy of shouting out our crazy discoveries in the halls of venerable academic institutions.


(00:30:00) Introducing Ellen Rees 
(00:02:12) How Did Ellen Rees End Up in Scandinavian Studies?
(00:06:00) The Centre for Ibsen Studies at Oslo University 
(00:09:30) Who was Henrik Ibsen?
(00:12:24) Doing Research on Ibsen 
(00:18:19) Ibsen as a Theatre Practitioner
(00:23:27) The Method and Process of Comparing
(00:28:20) Theatre History and the Vaudeville Genre
(00:38:42) Questioning the Idea of the Modern Breakthrough           
(00:45:42) A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler in Comparison with Scribe 
(00:53:45) Ibsen’s Contemporary Audience
(00:57:35) Ibsen and Comedy 
(00:59:17) Hedda Gabler and Le budget d’une jeune ménage
(01:12:35) Parodic Strategies
(01:14:13) Student Question 
(01:17: 27) The Crisis of Modernity
(01:22:06) The Position of Theatre Within the Global Literary System
(01:28:28) Announcement: Online Database
(01:29:59) What Advice Would You Give Your Student-Self?


  • Ibsen, Henrik: Hedda Gabler. København: Gyldendalske boghandels forlag, 1890.  
  • Ibsen, Henrik: Et Dukkehjem. København: Gyldendalske boghandels forlag, 1879.  
  • Ibsen, Henrik: „De To Theatre i Christiania“Morgenbladet, 1861.  
  • Rees, Ellen: „Ibsen, Sancthansnatten og de «saakaldte lavere Kunstarter»“, In: Idunn, Vol. 110 (No. 2), 2023, p. 74–89. 
  • Scribe, Eugène; Jean-François Bayard: Le budget d’un jeune ménage. Comédie-vaudeville en un acte. 1831.
  • dn: Scribe, Eugène; Philippe Dumanoir: Et ungt Ægtepars Huusholdning: Lustspiel in 1 Aufzuge. Kjøbenhavn, 1836.
  • Scribe, Eugène; Philippe Dumanoir: Être aimé ou mourir. Comédie-vaudeville en un acte. 1835. 
  • dn: Scribe, Eugène; Philippe Dumanoir: Enten elskes eller døe!: Lystsiel i een Act af Scribe. 1838. 
  • dt: Scribe, Eugène; Philippe Dumanoir: Geliebt oder todt!: Lustspiel in 1 Aufzuge. Dresden/Leipzig: Arnold 1836.

Weitere Literatur

  • Bögh, Erik: Et enfaldigt pigebarn. Vaudeville i to Akter. In: Udvalgte Dramatiske Arbejder, 1853. 
  • Casanova, Pascale: La République mondiale des lettres. Seuil: Paris, 1999. 
  • en: Casanova, Pascale: The World Republic of letters. Cambridge/Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007. 
  • Collett, Camilla: Amtmandens Døtre. 1854/55. bokselskap.no
  • Erik Bjerck Hagen: Norsk litteratur 1830-1875: Romantikk, realisme, modernisme. Oslo: Dreyers forlag, 2019. 
  • Hutcheon, Linda: A Theory of Parody. The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms. New York: Routledge, 1991.
  • Ibsen, Henrik: Fruen fra havet. København: Gyldendalske boghandels forlag, 1888.  
  • Ibsen, Henrik: Kjærlighedens komedie. Christiania: H. J. Jensen, 1862. 
  • Ibsen, Henrik: Peer Gynt. København: Gyldendalske boghandels forlag, 1867.  
  • Kruse, Jens: “The Function of Humour in the Later Plays of Ibsen.” In: Haakonsen, Daniel (ed.): Ibsen Yearbook, Vol. 11. Skien: Universitetsforlaget 1970/71, p. 42–59.
  • Stefanie v. Schnurbein, „Renovating Realism. Re-Reading Cora Sandel’s “Alberte and Freedom”. In Conversation with Tone Selboe“, in Experiment Geisteswissenschaft, 12/01/2023.
  • Øyvind, Anker: Kristiania Norske Theaters repertoire 1852-1863. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1956.
  • Øyvind, Anker: Christiania Theater’s repertoire 1827-99. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1956.
  • Westerståhl Stenport, Anna: “The Sexonomics of Et dukkehjem: Money, the Domestic Sphere and Prostitution”. In Idunn, (2006), p. 339–353. 

Ellen Rees is project leader of the research project “NORN – Norwegian Romantic Nationalisms”, which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) under agreement no. 101054618 (ERC Advanced Grant 2022).