Passing by / passed by Arctic Peoples? On Chronotopic Dynamics of Arctic Primitivism in Scandinavia

The aim of my lecture is to present my new book on Arctic primitivism around 1900, entitled Nomadic – Ecstatic – Magic. The fascination for the Arctic that was so formative for Scandinavian modernity finds its distillation in these terms. My book explores the key characteristics of Arctic primitivism in Scandinavia around 1900 in an approach that combines both aesthetic and cultural dimensions. Taking central Europe’s fin-de-siècle preoccupation with the Primitive as a starting point, I am demonstrating how the discourse that originated largely in anthropology found expression in visual art, literature and other media. My book focuses on the specific Scandinavian figuration of Arctic primitivism as it manifests in literature, visual art and film. With examples from Danish film-maker Anders Elfelt, Danish painter Harald Moltke and Swedish photographer Borg Mesch, I trace the Scandinavian experiences and imaginaries of loss that are connected to the indigenous peoples of the Arctic, and the chronotopic dynamics that arise from the aesthetic examination of these narratives of loss.

Hanna Eglinger studied Nordic philology, modern German literature and education at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany, and Uppsala University, Sweden. Since 2017, she is teaching at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg as a Professor for Comparative and Scandinavian Literature. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Professor for Nordic philology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, where she also received her PhD and her habilitation. Moreover, she was a visiting scholar at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich and holds the chair of the Association of Scandinavian Studies in Germany (Fachverband Skandinavistik). Her research areas include Arctic primitivism and Arctic literature, Knut Hamsun, Scandinavian contemporary literature, inter-art studies and body theories, poetics of parasitism and constellations of beginnings and fallibility in Scandinavian literature. Book publications include: Der Körper als Palimpsest. Die poetologische Dimension des menschlichen Körpers in der skandinavischen Gegenwartsliteratur (2007), (co-authorship with A. Heitmann:) Landnahme. Anfangserzählungen in der skandinavischen Literatur um 1900 (2010); Nomadisch – Ekstatisch – Magisch: Skandinavischer Arktisprimitivismus im ausgehenden 19. und beginnenden 20. Jahrhundert (2021).

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