• 02.08.2023 - 05.08.2023
  • 🇳🇴 Norwegen / Tromsø
  • IASS (International Association of Scandinavian Studies)
  • zur Website

IASS 2023

Health and Happiness in Nordic Literature and Culture

Literary history is full of stories of tragedy and death. Many who work with Nordic literature are used to teaching literature that is characterized by doom and unhappy endings. It is easy to find examples among canonized and contemporary authors, in genres such as realism, horror or Nordic noir, and in both children’s and young adult literature and adult literature. In novels such as Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart or plays such as Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts illness plays a central role. In other media such as cinema or graphic novels it is easy to find examples of stories focusing on disease, from the perspective of the ill person or their next of kin. Works that thematize illness and death tell us something about how important physical and mental health is to human well-being. There are also glimmers of light in the darkness. Anyone who goes through a life-changing experience, who survives a serious illness or moves on after the death of a loved one, can come to gain a greater resilience. And works of literature, cinema and other media that aim to spread joy, such as romance and humor, reach wide audiences.

The theme of the 2023 IASS conference will examine how the concepts of health and happiness, and the relationship between them, are understood and depicted in Nordic literature and culture. The conference wishes to illustrate how notions of happiness are formulated and communicated, from the medieval and early modern era until today, by highlighting a number of central questions. How have concepts such as satisfaction, joy, and happiness been understood, yesterday and today? Has the view of the relationship between health and well-being changed over the course of history? Is it possible to discern a uniquely “Nordic” view of the relationship between health and illness, and between happiness and unhappiness? And can a perusal of literature, film etc., dealing with illness and other difficulties make the reader or viewer more resilient when faced with similar situations in his or her own life?