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Modern Scandinavia and the Baltic States
CEUS-R 301

Toivo Raun

This course offers a comparative survey of Scandinavian and Baltic history since the beginning of the 19th century. It focuses on eight countries (Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) that are small in population (about 32 million total in the year 2006), but who are key players in the newly vibrant Baltic Sea area, which is taking important steps toward various forms of regional and international integration. The contribution of the Nordic countries to modern European development has been significantly out of proportion to their modest numbers. Note, for example, their role in the emergence of the welfare state, neutrality in foreign policy, women’s movements, and culture (literature, painting, architecture, music, film, and design). In the 20th century they also became models of political stability and democracy. For comparative purposes we will also discuss the modern evolution of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), who culturally–in many ways–belong with Scandinavia, but whose political history is contrasting. With the restoration of Baltic independence in 1991, the concept of “Baltoscandia” has reemerged, and we are witnessing a growing integration of the entire Baltic Sea region. At the same time a broader Euro-Atlantic integration is taking place. Six of the eight countries we are studying are also members of the European Union and NATO (but note that only four are members of both organizations).

The format of the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion along with occasional media presentations (slides, music, film). There will be three written assignments: (1) a 5-7-pp. essay on the plays of Ibsen and Strindberg, due October 3 (25%); (2) a midterm exam on October 19 (25%); and (3) a comprehensive final exam (40%). Both the midterm and the final will be essay exams. In addition, 10% of the grade will be based on attendance and class participation.

There are three texts for the class: T. K. Derry, A History of Scandinavia (Minneapolis, 2000); Henrik Ibsen, Four Major Plays (Oxford, 1981); and Strindberg: Five Plays (Berkeley, 1983). The other readings for the class will be available on e-reserve. Abbreviations used below: SJH = Scandinavian Journal of History and JBS = Journal of Baltic Studies.