>Going somewhere…

>Today was a productive day. I read an article on the ferry in to work today that sparked a little idea, and I was able to flesh out one of the languishing sections in the Fosse/Ibsen article. And I was finally able to make a little bit more sense for myself of the whole “unspeakable” issue that I’ve been grappling with. It’s still not worked out enough for me to be able to work on that section, but at least there’s a little movement going on.

I also realized this morning that the abstract deadline for a conference on Imagining Spaces/Places (!) in Helsinki (!) in August is coming up really fast. I definitely want to go to it, since this is exactly the main thrust of my research, and since I haven’t been in Finland since 1996 (!). Here’s what I came up with:

“The Real Norway”: Cabins in Norwegian National Identity Construction

The process of nineteenth-century “nation building” in Norway was a remarkably self conscious and literary endeavor. Subject as it was to the vagaries of continental warfare and politics, Norway appears to have quite literally written itself into existence while under Swedish dominion. Like many peripheral cultures, Norway sought to construct an identity that would distinguish itself from other nations. Quite early on in the process the physical landscape was identified as the primary source for such distinctions, as scholars such as Gudleiv Bø and Nina Witoszek have argued. Without an established urban culture, Norwegian intellectuals turned to the only alternative available and idealized nature, a strategy that continues to resonate even today in Norway’s relations to Europe and the world.

In my reading of nineteenth-century Norwegian literature, however, I find that the “place” of the burgeoning Norwegian nation is not, as others suggest, in the untamed wilderness of fjord and mountain (Bø 2000, for example), but in a far more domesticated and paradoxically transgressive space, namely the hytte (cabin).
It is possible to trace varieties of the cabin motif—the seter (shieling), the hunter’s cabin, the logging hut, etc.—throughout most of the Norwegian literary canon; It appears prominently in the works of Wergeland, Collett, Bjørnson, Ibsen, and Hamsun, among many others. In this paper, however, I examine an early and nearly forgotten national romance, namely Maurits C. Hansen’s short story from 1819, “Luren” (the lur). In it, Hansen employs the space of the cabin overtly as a metaphor for the nation, negotiating class distinctions and creating a new, unifying vision of the not-yet-independent Norway. As I will demonstrate, it is the liminal or transgressive nature of the space of the cabin itself that makes Hansen’s vision of what he un-ironically calls “the real Norway” possible.

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The Hansen thing was really the start of the whole cabin book project conceptually, though I have yet to write it all down. It’s great to have the opportunity and motivation of a conference to get it pulled together. 
PAGES/WORDS WRITTEN: 1041 on the article, plus 300 on the abstract.

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