Nature, North, and Nation

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Nature, North, and Nation

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Publication Conference other
Title Nature, North, and Nation
Author Sundmark, Björn
Date 2017
English abstract
Nature, North and Nation in Swedish Texts for Children The emergence of modern nation-states towards the end of the eighteenth century and the rise of children’s literature in the same period is not coincidental. Children’s literature makes and educates future citizens, and the idea of childhood pervades the rhetoric of nation and citizenship (Sundmark & Kelen; Lucas; Webb; Reimer). If the child is regularly “nationalized” in children’s literature, one can also argue that s/he is just as often “naturalized.” Indeed, ideas about nation, nature and childhood are more often than not conflated in children’s literature discourse (Sundmark; Andersson; Jaques). In this paper, it is the idea of north that is primarily employed to unpack this conceptual complex. The north is understood as a signifier for both nation and nature (Davidson; Grace). All of the Scandinavian countries – or more aptly, the Nordic countries – of course relate culturally and historically to the idea of north. What is attempted here is to show how this “northern” discourse surfaces in a specific Swedish context. How is the north narrated in texts for children? How is it produced? What is the nature of the northern space and place offered children in Swedish children’s books? To just point to a few possibilities: ever since Montesquieu the north has been associated with manliness, rugged nature, strength, individualism, and freedom – qualities which, presumably, are meant to stand in sharp contrast to the effeminate, over-civilized, and weak tyranny of “the south.” But the idea of north and its manifestations is of course much more varied and complex than that. It can represent life-defeating barrenness and cold. It can be evil as in H. C. Andersen’s Snow Queen. The north can also – from the perspective of the majority population – denote the Other: the Inuit and the Sami. In this paper a broad selection of classic Swedish children’s books will be examined, such as Barnen från Frostmofjället, Pappa Pellerins Dotter, and Ronja Rövardotter. The analysis will focus on typically northern settings, such as the forest, and the significance of living under harsh winter conditions.
Conference
Possible and Impossible Children, IRSCL Congress (28 July-2 August : Toronto, Canada)
Language eng (iso)
Subject Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/24093 Permalink to this page
Link http://irscl17.info.yorku.ca/... (external link to related web page)
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