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CLS 89 — Nordic Murder Mysteries in Literature and Television

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 20
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 29
Units: 2
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Beverly Allen
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 16—Mar 20
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 29
2 Units
Beverly Allen
An astonishingly creative output of murder mysteries has come out of the Nordic countries in recent years. Why is such finely crafted writing showing up in Nordic novels and television series? What gets us involved with these frozen stories of murder, mayhem, and detectives, whether in print or on the small screen? And what is unique about Nordic stories?

This course will answer these questions and more. Novels we will cover include: from Norway, Karin Fossum’s Don’t Look Back; from Iceland, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s The Day Is Dark; and, from Sweden, Liza Marklund’s Red Wolf. We will discuss several TV series: from Sweden, Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter; from Denmark and Sweden, The Bridge; from Finland, Look of a Killer; and from Norway, Occupied, a political thriller that stretches our genre parameters. Throughout the course, we will look at the rich literary traditions these mysteries are drawing on. We will also examine the social and political contexts of each work to gain insight into the surprising differences between each of the Nordic countries, how they relate to each other and the globalized world, and the special positions that mystery novels and TV series hold in these countries. Students will gain unexpected international perspectives and learn why murder mysteries are the most optimistic of all genres.

Students will be required to view TV series on their own time outside of class. See the preliminary syllabus for more details. The shows can be streamed instantly on Netflix ($10.99/mo) and MHz Choice ($7.99/mo). Students will need access to both services. New subscribers may receive a free month depending on what promotions are available. Please see netflix.com and mhzchoice.com for more details.

Beverly Allen, Professor Emeritus, French, Italian, and Comparative Literature, Syracuse University

Beverly Allen has taught at Cornell, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of Zagreb. Previously, she held the William P. Tolley Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities. She received a PhD from UC Berkeley. Allen has lived in Sweden and Norway and has been studying this genre for a decade.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Karin Fossum, Don't Look Back (ISBN 978-0-15-603136-3)
(Required) Liza Marklund, Red Wolf (ISBN 978-1-4516-0207-4)
(Required) Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, The Day Is Dark (ISBN 978-1-250-02940-9)