Venkat Mani receives Kellett Faculty Research Award
B. Venkat Mani researches and teaches migration: of human beings and forms of refuge and exile, and migration of ideas through libraries, books, and digital media. He is the author of Cosmopolitical Claims (2007) and Recoding World Literature (2017) and co-editor of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature (2018). He is currently working on a new project on migrants, refugees, and “the right to read.” His research has been funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, among others. His teaching has been recognized through several student nominated awards. He thinks of research and teaching as inseparable, and strongly believes that he could not have won the Kellett Award without the amazing students at UW-Madison who are never shy of asking tough questions. Here he is with the students of his course on “Migration in Literature, Film, and Music” (Spring 2017).
Professor Emeritus Harald Naess was the guiding force of the Scandinavian Studies Department for 32 years, from 1959 until his retirement in 1991. He was the fourth Norwegian professor in the Department’s long history, succeeding Einar Haugen who hand-picked Harald Naess as his replacement when he was called to Harvard. Haugen later said and Harald’s retirement banquet that hiring Harald was one of the smartest things he had ever done.
Hans Adler's research focuses on a scholarly edition of the works in 10 volumes of the Swiss 18th-century philosopher Johann Georg Sulzer. The edition is co-edited with his colleague Professor Elisabeth Décultot (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris/Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg). Hans spent time for this cooperation in Halle, Germany in October 2016.
David Natvig, a graduate student in the Nordic Program, recently worked with Folklore Village to document vinyl records they found in their collection.
Prof. Susan Brantly recently authored: The Historical Novel, Transnationalism, and the Postmodern Era. This volume explores the genre of the historical novel and the variety of ways in which writers choose to represent the past. How does an author’s nationality or gender impact their artistic choices? To what extent can historical novels appeal to a transnational audience? This study demonstrates how histories can communicate across national borders, often by invoking or deconstructing the very notion of nationhood. Furthermore, it traces how the concerns of the postmodern era, such as postmodern critiques of historiography, colonialism, identity, and the Enlightenment, have impacted the genre of the historical novel, and shows this impact has not been uniform throughout Western culture. Not all historical novels written during the postmodern era are postmodern. The historical novel as a genre occupies a problematic, yet significant space in Cold War literary currents, torn between claims of authenticity and the impossibility of accessing the past. Historical novels from England, America, Germany, and France are compared and contrasted with historical novels from Sweden, testing a variety of theoretical perspectives in the process. This pitting of a center against a periphery serves to highlight traits that historical novels from the West have in common, but also how they differ. The historical novel is not just a local, regional phenomenon, but has become, during the postmodern era, a transnational tool for exploring how we should think of nations and nationalism and what a society should, or should not, look like.
Manon van de Water, Professor and Chair for the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic, has been selected to receive AATE’s Judith Kase Cooper Honorary Research Award in recognition of her lifetime of significant contributions to the fields of theatre education and theatre for young people. She will be recognized at this year’s AATE conference to be held in New Orleans, LA.
From the interview page: Sunday was the fifth anniversary of the death of Václav Havel, the Czech dissident who led the Velvet Revolution and went on to spend nearly 13 years as president. But before he became a politician, Havel was, of course, a playwright, and it is just his literary work that is the focus of the book Reading Václav Havel by David S. Danaher, a Slavic Studies expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When he visited our studios recently, we discussed, among other things, Havel’s legacy and relevance today. But I first asked Danaher what had led him to Czech.
Scandinavian Studies on Broadway
Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879) is probably Scandinavia’s most famous play, having reached audiences around the world in a myriad of languages. Several attempts have been made to figure out what becomes of Nora after she leaves her husband and children behind, though none have been particularly successful…until now. A Doll’s House, Part 2, written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Sam Gold, had its premier on Broadway on April 27, 2017 and less than a week later it had garnered a Tony nomination for Best Play--with a little help from Susan Brantly.
Brantly was a script consultant for the production and fielded questions from the producers and playwright regarding just what the possibilities were for women in 19th Century Norway. This is territory quite familiar to Brantly since her first book, The Life and Writings of Laura Marholm (1991), traced the career of a woman writer who tried to make it on her own in Scandinavia and Germany. Brantly provided a copy of her anthology, Sex and the Modern Breakthrough (2004), so that the collaborators on the play could get a taste of the sort of writing done by Amalie Skram and Victoria Benedictsson. Nora’s legal standing regarding her divorce is another significant area that was discussed during the consultations, and Brantly suggested the location of the play, which was never mentioned in Ibsen’s original, but was important for the manufactured wedding certificate that is the visual signature of the production.
Brantly says, “The questions asked by the production company were very smart, and it is clear they knew what to do with the information I gave them. I was as surprised and delighted as anyone in the audience to learn about Nora’s path to success as a woman writer. I had never expected the end result to be funny, but it succeeds in being poignant and hilarious at the same time. Magic.”