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Inspired by Iceland

The History of Nordic Women’s Literature

18/03/2012 | By | 2 Replies More

A Swedish author: Selma Lagerlöf (b:1858 – d:1940) the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature

Nordic Women’s Literature

On the International Women’s Day, March, 8th. 2012, a brand new web site was published officially by the KVINFO, Denmark and KVINNSAM, Sweden (

The site aims to be useful to all with a general interest in literature, as well as to students, teachers, scholars, journalists, librarians, and others with a professional interest in Nordic literature.

History of Nordic Women’s Literature

The History of Nordic Women’s Literature is about the words that women have written over the centuries, and it is about the Nordic region. Even though the Nordic countries have evolved in their individual ways, a sense of affiliation, of a Nordic identity, is part of the self-image in the region.

A Nordic approach has proven to be a fruitful and rewarding point of reference for the project. It has become apparent that from time to time women’s works written during the same era, but in different places across the Nordic region, manifest the very features that have isolated a woman writer nationally. Features that did not fit into a dominant literary norm. A woman writer’s pen that cannot be accommodated by national conventional literary categories will sometimes seem self-evident when looked at in a Nordic literary context. Motifs, themes, and aesthetic qualities interact and create new patterns within a Nordic framework.

Over the last twenty-five years, women writers on the Nordic literary scene have so convincingly walked the corridors of the literary institution that today it is an open question as to whether it is men or in fact women who account for literary innovation. Literary historians will in future no longer be able to base their research and findings exclusively on the fundamental concepts and aesthetics in the works of male writers; a completely new approach will be necessary, and it is going to be exciting to see how that challenge will be resolved.

The History of Nordic Women’s Literature (Nordisk kvindelitteraturhistorie) comprises five volumes in all: four volumes of text and a concluding bio-bibliographical volume. The story begins in Iceland during the transition from oral narrative tradition to the introduction of written culture. And it ends with a chapter on Sami and Greenlandic women’s conquest of written language in our own time. The story of Nordic women’s literature during the intervening one thousand years is told in a mainly chronological sequence covering Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland – most fully accounted for in the three Scandinavian countries, where each national women’s literary history has been addressed before, but a good start is made with Finland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.

The new web site

The History of Nordic Women’s Literature is a trilingual web site in Danish, Swedish, and English, which for the first time makes a thousand years of women’s literary history in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and the Åland Islands freely available online.

The new web site is made possible by joint funding from the Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and the Danish A.P. Møller & Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation.

Illustrations on the web site are drawn from the print work, and are published with permission from the respective owners, museums, and institutions. The illustrations encompass everything from postcards, photos, drawings, and etchings to oil paintings by well-known artists. They stand as an independent, but nonetheless enriching, comment on the articles, and on a thousand years of women’s cultural history.

The site holds biographical data on each writer treated of in the articles, information on her works, and selected further reading about the writer and her oeuvre.

Also you will find analyses of major, well-known writers as well as minor and lesser known ones. There are survey articles introducing a period of literary history, or turning the spotlight on specific themes and trends in genre at various points in history.

Please join this video below to see how to use this web site online


Again – the URL of the web site is:


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Comments (2)

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