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Between Nostalgia and Modernity: Competing Discourses in Travel Writing about the Nordic North
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies. (Arcum)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4960-3251
2011 (English)In: Iceland and Images of the North / [ed] Sumarliði Isleifsson with the collaboration of Daniel Chartier, Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec , 2011, 255-282 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In travel narratives by nineteenth-century visitors, the Nordic North generally emerges as pre-modern and uncivilised. Yet the most widespread view of the Nordic countries today is that they are socially progressive, liberal and politically advanced. The connection between present-day socio-political discourses and cultural discourses of the past thus seems to be very weak or even absent. When a micro-perspective is applied, however, it becomes clear that the idea of a northern modernity has a long history. Current interpretations of the region as a site of progress do not break with previous depictions but constitute the continuation of a counter-discourse that was always present. Nineteenth-century works frequently contain both images of fairy-tale forests and descriptions of modern cities, and sometimes manage to combine the idea of the demanding, masculine-coded North with a view that foregrounds women’s emancipation and opportunities in society. To function as an alternative and an inspiration, however, the region needs to be modern in a different way than London or Paris. It could be said that the modernity the Nordic North was made to represent in the second half of the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century built on the same features that led to nostalgic interpretations of the region.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec , 2011. 255-282 p.
Keyword [en]
nostalgia, modernity, gender equality, religious revival, nineteenth-century travel writing
National Category
General Literature Studies History History of Ideas
Research subject
English; Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-45849ISBN: 978-2-7605-3085-0ISBN: 978-9979-9922-2-6OAI: diva2:435399
Available from: 2011-08-18 Created: 2011-08-18 Last updated: 2016-05-17Bibliographically approved

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Hansson, Heidi
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