Page 1

summer 2014 |

Vol. 1, No. 1


Handshake that Made History | Ellen Ahlness


Lapp | Ellen Ahlness


Trees Are Like People, They Do Not Like To Be Alone | Ryan Gesme


Desirable or Disturbing? An Analysis of “The Sandman” | Kayta Gruneberg


Art for the Saga of the Volsungs | Steve Horn


In the Case of David v. David | Kerry Jarvi


Transatlantic: The Role of Gender Expectations | Nikki Link


The War of Laws: Hen-Thorir’s Saga | Thomas Malcolm


How Finns Swear and What This Tells Us | Emily Malone


Powerful Women in the Sagas | Jenna Mennen


A Day in Jokkmokk | Benjamin Pflughoeft


An Analysis of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness | Mattias Schmidt


Finnish-American Emigration to Soviet Karelia | Zachary Strom


Appendix: References


Biehtar Ovlla Eira in email interview by the author, October 13, 2010.

During the 2013 annual reciprocal troop exchange between Norway’s Heimevernet Home Guard and the Minnesota National Guard at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, Norwegian General Kristin Lund addressed her fellow officers with the adage, “If you stop visiting your friends, they stop being your friends.” In Scandinavian culture, maintaining connections with friends is a premier value, especially when there is a national attitude towards a “culture of closing off those outside your circle of connections.”* This Norwegian mindset is just as applicable for international relations as it is for neighborly greetings. Demonstrating a desire for mutual good will is extremely important when dealing with a cultural bias that has limited inclination to forge new relationships and views the length of a relationship as an important component of trust. The heritage shared by Minnesota and Norway as well as the bonds that the U.S. and Norwegian militaries have developed have forged and maintained professional regards and personal friendships that have lasted into the modern era. Immediately after World War II, significant U.S. troop reductions took place throughout Europe; conversely, more U.S. troops were sent to Norway to help expel their German occupiers and rebuild the governance of a suppressed people and defense force. Those were the soldiers of the United States’ 99th Infantry Battalion. Even today, during Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX) ceremonies, Norway’s Home Guard Command refer to the popularity of these soldiers stationed among the Norwegian people and the close friendships and bonds forged immediately after WWII. Upon completion of this mission in 1945, the subsequent American troop withdrawal from Norway resulted in a decline of the close military relationship that had developed between the two countries. Prompted by this decline, the Minnesota National Guard and Norwegian Home Guard attempted to revitalize military relations through the 1974 U.S.-Norway Troop Reciprocal Exchange Agreement. This was the start of an annual troop exchange program between the two militaries that renewed diplomatic and military relations between Norway and the U.S. and consequently served as a model for the State Partnership Program.

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T H E 99 T H I N F A N T R Y B A T T A L I O N

The road to Norway for American troops started with the U.S. military’s presence in WWII Europe as part of the Allied Forces. One unit in particular, the 99th Infantry Battalion, was formed in 1942 as a response to an order issued by the American War Department to the Commanding General Ground Forces. The order opened with the statement, “It is desired that you take the necessary steps to organize at the earliest possible date a battalion of Norwegian national to serve as part of the U.S. Army [9 May, 1942].”* Less than one month later, 1,001 Norwegian-American soldiers were transferred out of their previous units and into the 99th Infantry Battalion. The 99th Battalion then spent the next year training in Minnesota and Colorado for a specialized mission: invade and liberate Norway from its German occupiers.* It would be the only battalion stationed in the formerly neutral country upon the end of the war. After one year of training, the men of the 99th Battalion departed for Europe. Upon arrival in England on June 22nd, 1944, the men expected to receive their long anticipated orders to Norway and to participate in Operation Plough—a campaign of advanced sabotage acts in Norway against German occupiers. Instead, they were rerouted to fight alongside fellow Americans in the Normandy and Rhine Campaigns as well as the Battle of the Bulge. As a Separate Battalion, the 99th was placed where support was most needed, which meant it was attached to various units during the course of the European Campaign.* When combat operations ended in 1945, the 99th Infantry Battalion was dispatched to assist the Norwegian military in expelling the nearly 400,000 German soldiers from Norway.* The 99th Battalion landed at Drammen, Norway on June 4, 1945 and continued to Oslo on the way to the mission.* The Battalion’s main job was to assist in disarming and expelling the German Wehrmacht from Norway. This included working with the British to apprehend war criminals and participating in joint interrogations and raids. Additionally, the 99th Infantry Battalion was tasked with retrieving Norwegian Resistance Fighters who had fled to northern Norway and Sweden to escape the occupying German forces. These joint missions with Norway’s military fostered a deep professional relationship between the Norwegian military and the members of the 99th Infantry Battalion, but there was a significant cultural benefit to the Americans’ presence. The common ancestry between the two groups also forged close personal relationships between the U.S. soldiers and the citizens of Norway. During an address to the Minnesota National Guard, Major

Howard R. Bergen, History of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Minneapolis: Emil Moestue, 1945), 45. Major Doug Bekke, The Military Historical Society of Minnesota. Norwegian-Americans and the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) (St. Paul: Minnesota Military Museum, 2004), 76.

Arno Lasoe, “Mud & Blood: History of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate)” (speech, Camp Ripley, Little Falls, MN, 2005). Terje Myklebust, “Reunion of the Viking Battalion,” News of Norway, Winter 200607, 8. Terje Myklebust, “Reunion of the Viking Battalion,” News of Norway, Winter 200607, 8.


Ellen Ahlness

General Larry Shellito elaborated on the purpose of the 99th Battalion’s placement in Norway and how the effects of its presence in Norway has carried into the current era of both militaries. The Battalion’s purpose was to provide military assistance to a country occupied by the Nazi forces, but it was also a way for the United States to show the Norwegians the close cooperation and cultural and historical bonds that held [the] two nations together. Because so many of the soldiers in the 99th [Battalion] had direct relatives in Norway, it was not that hard to re-connect. If we were to attempt such a connection today, even with the social networks that exist among Scandinavian-Americans, it would be significantly harder, because we would have a ‘gap generation’ that never saw or searched for those connections between their homeland and heritage.* Major General Larry Shellito, “Retirement Address.” (address, Sheraton Hotel, Bloomington, MN, October 23, 2010).

Bjørn Jervås, “Army of the United States of America with Collaboration from Norwegian Home Guard,” 99th Battalion (Separate), last modified 2005, http://

Harald W. Støren (Defense and Security Policy Counselor) in interview by the author, July 26, 2013.

Shellito details an exercise that deliberately took what existed – family ties that often were linked by a single generation – and built upon these ties to ultimately create a relationship that intersected personal, military, marital, and wartime realms. In October 1945, the mission in Norway was complete, and the 99th Infantry Battalion prepared to return to the United States. Prior to leaving, many U.S. soldiers were granted furloughs to visit relatives and tour the country. Additionally, numerous celebrations were hosted by the Norwegians, who held the U.S. soldiers in high regard and were impressed by their model conduct.* The level of esteem the Norwegians held for the 99th Battalion was so high that two days into their mission the unit had its first non-combat, security assignment of significant diplomatic value. These Americans served as the Honor Guard for the return of exiled King Haakon VII of Norway who had narrowly escaped German capture in 1940 and, while exiled in England with the Norwegian Royal Family, had been operating the Norwegian government from London until the day of his return – exactly five years after evacuation. On October 16, 1945, the American troops departed, and the period of significant U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Norway ended. Over time and distance, the relationships and memories between the American and Norwegian troops grew stale, and contact between their militaries was limited.* Those who had married Norwegian women during their stay in

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Norway returned home with their new spouses and set up households. For many of the soldiers, their obligation to the military had ended.


In the decades following WWII, the U.S. military focused on new issues: the Cold War, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. During these crises, the U.S. maintained close ties with Great Britain, France, and other NATO allies and built U.S. military bases throughout West Germany (Trauschweizer). Additionally, European nations threatened by the propaganda and intimidation of the Eastern Bloc received military and diplomatic assistance from the United States government. Norway, however, was largely left alone to defend its northern border from a possible Soviet invasion. These threats were particularly precarious, as the Norwegian economy of post-World War II was still struggling. Prior to discovering offshore oil in 1969, the Norwegian Real GDP was $58,380 million. This is slightly less than the 2012 Real GDPs for the Dominican Republic or Sudan, illustrating Norway’s position as a developing country in relative poverty compared to major world and European powers ($667 million and $389 million less, respectively, the latter excluding South Sudan. All values converted to U.S. dollars using 2012 PPPs [in millions of 2012 U.S. dollars]).* The Norwegian post-WWII economy depended heavily on fishing, timber, and agriculture, and the country was arguably not in a position to act as a military partner providing a significant or sizable defense budget. The Norwegian economy was more directed toward internal survival than international establishment. In addition to Norway’s economic challenges, the difference in American and Norwegian military priorities contributed to the lack of interest in pursuing any joint military training exclusively or via NATO channels between the two countries during the first half of the Cold War era; hence, the close relationship the U.S. military once had with Norway continued to deteriorate. Despite the lack of cooperative military missions between the United States and Norway, cultural connections continued to link the two nations. Historically, the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Washington have had strong relationships with Norway due to the large number of Norwegian immigrants who had settled in these states. Connections between Norwegian-Americans and Norwegian nationals were also strengthened by the many Norwegian fraternal organizations in the United States, including Norske Torske and Sons of Norway. These

United States. Dept. of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Division of International Labor Comparisons. International Comparisons of GDP per Capita and per Hour, 1960-2011. November 7, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2013. fls/intl_gdp_capita_ gdp_hour.pdf.


Ellen Ahlness

organizations continued amicable relationships with Norway through social, educational, and travel opportunities (‘Norwegian’). Additionally, diplomatic courtesies continued through periodic delegate trips between Norway and the Norwegian Consulate in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Despite the fostering of cultural and diplomatic ties, the military relationship between the two countries continued to wane.


Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Department of Defense of the United States of America. Managing the Reserve Components as an Operational Force. October 2008, 8.

In the early 1970s, U.S. Force High Command changed its military philosophy. Rather than dispatching only active duty forces for defense missions and priorities, policy was changed to involve U.S. military reservists for future conflicts.* This gave Minnesota’s National Guard leaders the opportunity to form international relationships as part of their now expanded role in national defense. In 1973, the opportunity arose when Norwegian officers came to Minnesota as part of a military delegation escorting Norwegian diplomats. During this trip, the National Guard’s leadership met with the Norwegian military officers, eventually traveling to the Camp Ripley military base in Minnesota for meetings as well as down time. During one meeting at Camp Ripley, Norwegian Major General Herluf Nygaard and Minnesota National Guard Brigadier General Francis Greenlief informally discussed the possibility of an exchange between Minnesota and Norwegian troops. At one point during the ‘after hours’ meeting, the tone turned serious. In the words of Major General Shellito: The men realized they didn’t have to just talk about the benefits of such an exchange between their states. Somewhere between downing a couple of drinks between colleagues and discussing the future of their defense forces, it dawned on the generals that they could make it happen. With this common goal in mind, a single handshake became the diplomatic agreement marking the beginning of the longest lasting military exchange between two nations.

A troop exchange seemed like an excellent way for the Minnesota National Guard to extend itself internationally and reestablish a military connection. The close bonds the American and Norwegian soldiers had built

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immediately after World War II could act as the foundation for the troop exchange.* Shortly after the return of the diplomats to Norway, leaders of the Minnesota National Guard and Norway’s Home Guard negotiated the training and transportation terms of this new agreement. It was further decided to conduct this exchange during the winter due to the common cold weather training performed by both militaries and to familiarize one another with the equipment used by the partner.* Norway was renowned for its winter survival training, which complimented the United States’ strength in weapons training and tactics.* More than 25 years after the initial military ties of WWII, Norway and the U.S. had re-forged a connection of military cooperation and training. Although there was no written agreement, the Norwegian-Minnesota troop exchange operated successfully for nineteen years.* There were years, however, when the exchange was almost cancelled due to unwillingness of the U.S. to federally fund the program. It took determined effort by the senior leadership of the Minnesota National Guard, and occasionally from members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, to ensure the exchange continued.* The key component of the funding required was the cost to transport troops between the two countries. Minnesotan Guardsmen travel to Norway on an annual basis each February, with the aircraft returning to the U.S. with the Norwegian soldiers. Approximately two weeks later, the two contingents return to their respective countries.


Colonel Walter Renfro, senior manager for the National Guard Bureau’s international program in Washington, D.C., noted that the troop exchange could serve as a model for a new program which would partner states with other countries.* After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the emergence of free countries from the former Soviet bloc, a partnership training program was deemed the right strategic effort to build favor with these new nations. Colonel Renfro suggested forming a ‘State/Nation Partnership Program,’ modeled after Minnesota’s and Norway’s military training exchange, in which American states would exchange military personnel with partner nations to promote international cooperation. Within these partnerships, military troops travelled to each other’s country to train in joint development programs as well as to experience working under the guidance of foreign officers. This latter skill became extremely important as Norwegian and other NATO troops generated a greater presence in


Andrew L. Lluberes, “28 Norwegian Guardsmen at ‘Ripley’ for Training,” Little Falls Daily Transcript (Little Falls, MN), February 11, 1974. Colonel Terry J. Dorenbush, Minnesota Army and Air National Guard. Memorandum of Agreement Between The Department of Defense of the United States of America and The Ministry of Defense of Norway Concerning Reciprocal Exchange Procedures Concerning The U.S. and Norwegian Armies. St. Paul, MN: Adjutant General Office, 1994. Sergeant Gary Heil, “Little Falls woman trains with Guard in Norway,” Morrison County Record (Morrison, MN), March 30, 1987. Norma Hudson, “Norwegians and Little Falls Residents Develop Friendships on Both Sides of the Ocean,” Morrison County Record (Morrison, MN), March 2, 1987. Joyce Moran, “Visiting With the Norwegians,” Morrison County Record (Morrison, MN), February 27, 1989, 3. Colonel Eric D. Ahlness, Minnesota Army National Guard. Strategic Security Implications of the National Guard State Partnership Program (Pennsylvania : U.S. Army War College, 2008), 23.


Harald W. Støren in interview by the author, July 26, 2013. Lieutenant Colonel Greg Scofield in interview by the author, October 1, 2010.

Hilde Henriksen Waage, “The Minnow and the Whale: Norway and the United States in the Peace Process in the Middle East,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 34, no. 2 (2007): 157.

Colonel Terry J. Dorenbush, Minnesota Army and Air National Guard.

Lieutenant General Bernt Brovold and Lieutenant General James J. Lovelace, Memorandum of Agreement Between the United States Army and the Norwegian Home Guard. Oslo, Norway and Washington, D.C.: 2006, 7.

Ellen Ahlness

Afghanistan.* The exchange of troops provided mutual training benefits and increased cultural and fraternal ties.* While the U.S. fostered new relationships with former Soviet bloc countries, it strived to not provoke the Russian Federation and therefore excluded U.S. active military forces from partnerships. Military liaison teams were comprised of only National Guard members, supporting the military intelligence community’s contention that the use of reserve troops for a military exchange lowered the perceived threat of the program by the Russians. The Department of Defense directed National Guard Bureau to develop a training program, and National Guard liaison teams were sent to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, limiting the threat to Russians while signaling support of the U.S. to fledgling nation-states.* These programs were formalized within the newly created State Partnership Program. The Norwegian-Minnesota troop exchange had become a model for diplomatic discussions to develop these new partnerships at a national level. Establishing the State Partnership Program also led to a review of the Norwegian-Minnesota troop exchange agreement by the federal government. To the surprise of many federal officials, it was discovered that there was no written agreement establishing the exchange between the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard.* The administrative and logistical coordination that came with the handshake nineteen years prior was now being questioned. In response to this, government lawyers reviewed the legalities for the program, and drafted an acceptable memorandum of agreement. The exchange almost ended at this point, as a new generation of policy makers questioned the strategic need for this partnership. There was concern that the objections to the memorandum would bring an end to the Minnesota-Norwegian exchange. Intervention by the Norwegian government at the highest levels prompted U.S. officials to move forward with the document. Additionally, the Minnesota congressional delegation encouraged the Pentagon to support the exchange agreement. As a result, the U.S.-Norway Troop Reciprocal Exchange became a formal program under the “Memorandum of Agreement between the United States Army and the Norwegian Home Guard Regarding the Reciprocal Exchange of Units” in 1994.* Since the 1994 formalization of the troop exchange, a new chapter in the exchange began. The U.S. Department of Defense believed the Norwegian Home Guard youth did not meet the needs of the exchange, as they were more like junior military cadets, fulfilling their mandatory two-year service for Norway. One Norwegian youth noted, “It is something we do in return for living in our country, like going to school for

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a little longer.”* United States policy advisors advocated for elements of the active duty Norwegian Home Guard to participate in the exchange. To prevent another exchange termination threat, it was agreed that Norway would select its soldiers from specific districts to participate on an annual basis, as well as elements from their Rapid Reaction Force, while the Minnesota National Guard elected to send soldiers from across the state. The itinerary for the Norwegian visit included the cultural experience of a Washington, D.C. visit. In Washington, D.C., Norwegian and Minnesotan military leaders participate in meetings and receive briefs in the Norwegian Embassy, at the National Guard Bureau, and with congressional officials. An important concern brought up at these meetings has been the emerging issue of the ‘Far North,’ or the Arctic polar region.* The relationship between Minnesota and Norway and the focus on winter operations has been a link and the impetus for both countries to lead a dialogue regarding the growing importance of the Arctic region for transportation, fishing, and oil exploration. The State Partnership Program continues to expand globally, while the troop exchange program between Minnesota and Norway has completed its fortieth year and remains the world’s longest military exchange. The exchange is an essential component between Norway’s and Minnesota’s past connection, and is a strategic link to the future of the Far North. Minnesota’s Major General Larry Shellito has acknowledged that “in reality, we have Minnesotans in Afghanistan, working in an area that’s monitored by the Germans, while working alongside Norwegians and Croatians. We’re all NATO members who have found ways to work together.” Since the formation of the Norwegian Exchange, not only have training objectives been met with Norway, but National Guard soldiers have connected with international personnel and have a stronger global perspective. Further, both Minnesota and Norway are able to identify, implement, and follow through on shared goals, such as peacekeeping missions, resulting in greater security for both nations.* By partnering with Norway, a country that has no colonial past and enjoys a positive global reputation, the United States obtains another avenue for international influence. The U.S.-Norway Troop Reciprocal Exchange had potential and pathways to grow, and the partners were able to act on that possibility. It allowed the U.S. to advance its interests and encourage peace in international affairs and also advance diplomacy by creating bonds and impressions that last lifetimes. Norwegian Lieutenant Colonel Jakob Bragstad, a participant of the Troop Exchange, understood the purpose of the exchange when he


Norma Hudson. “Norwegians and Little Falls Residents...” Morrison County Record, March 2, 1987.

Brigadier General Timothy Cossalter, in personal interview by the author, November 10, 2010.

Specialist Alicia Phillips, “Minnesota Guard Provides Local Training with A Global Impact,” Camp Ripley Reporter (Camp Ripley, MN), September 25, 2010, 3.


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addressed American, Norwegian, and Danish troops who had gathered for the farewell dinner following the 16th annual exchange: You [Americans] have been excellent ambassadors for the United States. I have travelled to many different countries… but I’ve never met any other people who love their country so much. America is a country which Norway can be proud to call a friend.* Corporal Annette Wuertz, “National Guard troops train in Norway,” Morrison County Record (Morrison, MN), March 27, 1989, 6.

The Norwegian-Minnesotan Troop Exchange demonstrates a successful partnership between two military forces and continues to make a positive impact by influencing world events, including Middle East involvement and global economic aid distribution. It also demonstrates the power of sustained relationships in creating strong diplomatic ties and global impact. The original delegates could not have anticipated the wide-ranging policy impact of the partnership, such as the emergence of the Far North as a policy issue. The U.S.-Norway Troop Reciprocal Exchange legacy is that of a model for a successful international partnership program and of an effective and enduring relationship that advances the mutual interests of the United States and Norway. ◼

H a n d s h a k e t h a t M ade History



Ellen Ahlness


Growing up mother told us not to speak our language. Sami wasn’t like Norwegian. It was the

Devil’s Tongue.

Our chants went unsaid. Our yoiks unsung. In the Children’s school I was the short one. Shorter than the girls. The boys would throw ice and mock me. “Reindeer Boy!” When are you going to Finland? They stink like you!” Once they took my coat and stuck it Far up in a tree. So high up, but the pine needles couldn’t cover the red and blue and yellow felt; intertwined braided trim and homemade threads. Grandma kept them — they were her fathers along with our story drum of tanned hides. Us: the Lapplanders. The patchwork people. The drawings on the drum, charcoal figures who have been passed from son to son. Someday the drum will be mine. I bet the boys would toss it up in a tree too. Laugh at the strange words. Scratch out the figures with ice. Me, made of reindeer pelts and felt among a nation of knit sweaters and polyester.


During my first few years delving into Norwegian culture, I was always interested in the culture and struggles of the Sami people. Lapp illustrates the difficulties of being Sami, especially in the 1960s through the 1990s, through the eyes of an unnamed boy. The very title “lapp,” taken from the Northern Sami term láhppon olmmoš (one who is lost), is a slur towards the nomadic nature of the traditional Sami way of life. During the twentieth century, there was a strong push across Norway to “Norwegianize” the Sami people, discouraging them from wearing their native dress, participating in their customs and traditions, and even from speaking their native language. Children were assimilated in Norwegian schools and told that their first language, Sami, was the “devil’s tongue” and was unclean to speak. Since much of the Sami history is passed down orally, a narrative told by an outcast boy seeks to mimic and reflect on a method of storytelling that he finds familiar, yet is discouraged from engaging in. The poem is shaped like Norway, providing a visual of what the boy strives for, but ultimately cannot assimilate into. ◼



Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 2-3. Dave Egan and William H. Tishler. “Jens Jensen, Native Plants, and the Concept of Nordic Superiority.” Landscape Journal (18.1(1999): 11-29.), 4.

Architecture is more than just designing buildings; it is also about the landscaping. One of the most influential landscape architects was Jens Jensen. Jensen was a unique American landscape architect because of his Danish identity and background which he showed by exhibiting a Danish style in the public parks and private homes he designed in the Midwestern region of the United States. In analyzing Jensen’s life, I will illustrate how his Danish upbringing influenced his work, how he incorporated the natural beauty of America, and how his beliefs led to disagreements with another well-known prairie style architect. I will continue with a discussion about Jensen’s work with Jane Addams, and their initiative to help fellow immigrants in America. In his prairie style landscape architectural concept, Jens Jensen both preserved and adapted Danish ideals of beauty to fit an American landscape, and showed how these values can change the common man’s life for the better, foreshadowing modern Danish social welfare ideology. Jens Jensen was born on September 13, 1860 on his family farm just outside of the village of Dybboel in the Danish province of Schleswig. Jensen’s family was wealthy; they owned a house and large acreage of land. Landscapes Artist in America describes “that many of Jensen’s surviving clients speak of him as ‘aristocratic’; while his family was not titled, they had an extremely secure place in a social order which was, at that time, quite rigidly stratified”.* A major influence from Jensen’s childhood came from the area around Dybboel, which is located in Southern Schleswig on the Jutland peninsula of Europe. The family farmland, which he grew up on, influenced his idea of natural beauty. He wrote about his upbringing, walking to school, and hunting outings with his father, and how these surroundings inspired his life’s work in landscape architecture.* Around the time of his birth, Germany was beginning to unite its native speakers under Prussian rule, and two of those targets were the Danish provinces of Schleswig and Holstein. This led to the invasion by Austrian-Prussian forces in 1864, and one of the major battles was fought in Jensen’s backyard

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at the Dybboel mill. Jensen mentions that one of his earliest memories was looking back as his father’s estate was being burned to the ground.* The resulting peace treaty led to the transfer of Schleswig and Holstein into Prussian control and the Prussians began a process of Germanization of the Danish people in the two provinces. Jensen became a Prussian citizen, which meant he had to attend a primary school where the lessons were taught in German. This led his parents to send him to a folk school in Vinding, Denmark, where he was taught to appreciate science, literature, and art, allowing him to have an open mind encountering many different thinkers when he eventually lived in Chicago. It also led him to hold on to his Danish identity early on in his life, which became incredibly important when he faced assimilation in America. One of the most important consequences of being under German rule was the compulsory military services where he realized that he wanted to do something more in his life. He was assigned to the German capital of Berlin where he was first introduced to the idea of urban parks and the works of Peter Joseph Lenne.* His time in Berlin allowed him to experience the French and English garden architecture, which was based on a large scale park with many statues and fountains that required large amounts of upkeep and were usually in disrepair. At the same time, he was able to see the small gardens on the outside of the French and English parks, which were simpler. Jensen described it as “wandering through the woodlands beyond these English parks to meet a little garden enclosed within the deep shadow of the forest.”* These small gardens never left his mind and were part of his designs for the rest of his life. After his service had ended, he left Denmark for America in 1884. Leonard K. Eaton eventually described Jensen’s time period under German rule stating, “while he was devoted to his adopted country, he remained a Dane in his inmost soul”.* Jensen left Denmark for many reasons, but the two influential were that his family was unwilling to sanction his marriage to Anne Marie Hansen and the change in government rule. His family disapproved of his marriage because Miss Hansen came from a family of small farmers, which his parents believed to beneath their class and his decision to leave created tremendous upheaval in his family. The feelings were so strong, Jensen never spoke to his father again, yet he continued to correspond with his mother until she passed away. The second reason is that he did not want to live under Prussian rule for the rest of his life. His experiences in the Prussian Army, and the Prussian civil administration led him to this decision as he disliked the rigidness of the system and the lack of control


Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 5-6.

Ibid., 8-9.

Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 9.

Ibid., 7.


Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 12-13. Ibid., 11.

Ibid., 12.

Cheryl Kent, “A Force of Nature: The Life and Work of Jens Jensen”. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. (63.2 (2004): 225-227.), 225.

Ryan Gesme

over his own life as he was always at the will of the Prussian authorities. He desired freedom, and the ability to follow his own path. Jensen found the value of freedom in America and it was one of the main reasons to emigrate, and fought to protect that right. Jensen arrived at Castle Garden, which was the precursor to Ellis Island on October 1884, and he soon relocated to Florida to work on a celery plantation. While there he married his fiancé Anne Marie Hansen. He eventually relocated to Iowa and worked as a farm laborer before settling in Chicago where through hard work as a laborer in the park service and his ability to envision urban rural settings, he rose to become the superintendent of Humboldt Park, one of the largest parks on the west side of the city at the time.* This began his career in landscape architecture and his love and study of American flora. Jensen did many things for American culture with his lasting impacts in landscape architecture. He decided that he did not want to be a farmer for the rest of his life, that he wanted to do something more than that.* In Landscapes Artist in America, Eaton mentions that Jensen’s connections with the old country were strong and that he had to maintain his language and culture through great personal effort. He was intensely Danish in an effort to keep his heritage, the result being that “Jensen was more Danish than many natives of Copenhagen”.* This fact is important to understand his life’s influences and their eventual impact on his architectural style in regards to American culture through Chicago’s parks. Jens Jensen’s first major work was redesigning the West Side park systems of Chicago. He first worked as a street sweeper in Chicago and on the weekends he travelled to the Midwest countryside, influencing his use of the natural Midwest flora. He eventually was appointed as landscape designer in 1888, beginning his career as a public parks designer. His unique style was apparent from the beginning due to his love of natural beauty, which he developed during his time in Europe. This was reflected in his design of the American Garden in Chicago’s Union Park, which “was composed entirely of native plants, including trees, shrubs, and wildflower perennials.”* Kent stated that it was the first garden design of its time and was unique. This began his desire to use natural plants when constructing the garden or buildings design. This love of natural landscape led him to advocate during the large population explosion in Chicago for more land to be used as parks, and to have a park system to promote good health.* This idea of creating good health was important to Jensen and he championed the idea of providing buildings for all the public to use. In 1905, Jensen was appointed to the position of Superintendent of all of the West Side

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Parks in Chicago and was happy to provide such buildings. In “his new capacity, he was able to build the community parks he had envisioned, including features like free public bathing facilities and programs for inexpensive hot meals and classes in English”.* This was common among Scandinavian immigrants who never had any support in their home countries and so one of their main goals was to give the common folk a healthy environment to live in. They wanted to help fellow immigrants live and prosper in their new country and many were eventually replicated back in the Scandinavian countries later in the twentieth century through the creation of the welfare state. The idea of a welfare state is having the state provide for basic necessities and contribute to the populace’s general health and happiness. This idea was used directly in Franklin Park through not only Jensen’s ability to create natural beauty, but also provide public buildings for the poor. In this park, even though it was a meager eight and a half acres, he was able to build all of the public and recreational buildings while retaining the natural sense of being on the Illinois prairie by changing and manipulating the elevation of the land.* His main purpose as superintendent was redesigning of the existing parks of Garfield, Douglas, and Humboldt. In his redesigning, he never lost his use of nature in their layouts, which were influence by his love of the prairie and natural farmlands. As Jensen once said, “I am only a farm boy”.* Jensen never lost his connection to Denmark and it shows in his remarkable designs of these parks. His ability to create a prairie-like river, which was lined with natural plants and vegetation to create a sense of wildness, was rooted in his Danish education. He was able to create large pools at the end of these rivers so that his desire to provide the Chicago population a place to come and swim in the parks was fulfilled. His openness to other ideas led him to experiment in including different types of sculptures, one in particular by Charles Mulligan who designed Home. Home was not a sculpture of a national hero on horseback which had been the norm, but a mythological portrayal of a father and child.* The value of the family and nature was common in Danish-Americans. Some of them felt that nature was a dangerous place and it had many mythical aspects which led many to believe it should be honored and protected. His ability to plan was a great attribute in his life and it showed as Jensen argued for buying and preserving large amounts of land just outside of the city for what he called a ‘Proposed System of Forests, Parks and Country Pleasure Roads.’ Even though this was not adopted in Jensen’s time as superintendent, it was later adopted by Daniel Burnham in his Plan of Chicago.* His




Sid Telfer, The Jens Jensen I Knew (Ellison Bay, WI: Driftwood Farms, 1982.), 11.

Cheryl Kent, “A Force of Nature: The Life and Work of Jens Jensen”. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. (63.2 (2004): 225-227.), 226.

Ibid., 226.


Dave Egan and William H. Tishler. “Jens Jensen, Native Plants, and the Concept of Nordic Superiority.” Landscape Journal (18.1(1999): 11-29.), 17.


Cheryl Kent, “A Force of Nature: The Life and Work of Jens Jensen”. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. (63.2 (2004): 225-227.), 226. Ibid., 226. Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 81.

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Danish ideals of preserving nature led him to advocate this plan, and influenced Chicago’s development. In addition to his Danish ideals with sculptures, he also fought for immigrant rights. In Chicago, Jensen met with and influenced Jane Addams and her Hull House. Jensen’s fight against nativism showed his Danish devotion to social equality that “for several decades, Jensen and this group of Chicago intellectuals actually served as a bulwark against nativism. Jane Addams and her colleagues at Hull House saw social action as a means of assimilating newly-arrived immigrants to America”.* Jensen realized that, as an immigrant from Denmark, all immigrants should at least get the opportunity to grow and prosper, and that they all offer value to America. He valued the idea of being a nation of immigrants so much that he once said “every nation develops its own art. We are young as a nation and still in the process of crystallization. Every race or nationality brings to us some of its customs and habits which are gradually but surely being molded together, ultimately to form one national character. The environs amongst which the immigrants settle lend their great influence--sung by the poet, painted by the painter and idealized by the gardener”.* These ideas show how much Jensen’s own experience as an immigrant has influenced his beliefs in designing gardens, but also in interacting with the other immigrants coming to America. This is a common occurrence involving Scandinavian Americans in helping fellow immigrants and to ensure their survival in this new world. One sees that Jensen has accepted his Danish-American identity as he uses the term “we are young as a nation” highlighting how identity shift within immigrants to America and the blending of where an immigrant came from and where he is. He soon entered the private design practice through his relationship with the wealthy Ford family of Dearborn, Michigan and the Rosenwald family of Chicago. These private works were “less gratifying to Jensen than the public parks, but it was lucrative and he saw it as a base on which the landscape profession could be expanded”.* He designed multiple Ford estates, the various Ford Company Buildings, and the Henry Ford Hospital.* He wrote that “the home is sacred to those so fortunate as to have it; it is their own, the most precious and beautiful possession any mortal being can claim”.* These words were typical of his Danish heritage and their love for house and hearth; he incorporated that concept into every one of his private home landscape designs. In his design of the Ford property, the road meandered through a wooded area, before opening to a prairie setting where the estate was centrally located. Jensen valued the privacy of a person’s home and wanted it to feel part of the land. Jensen did not limit his private home designs to rich individuals or companies but expanded it to

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middle class families, and a majority of his landscape designs can be found in the North Shore Neighborhood of Chicago.* Jensen valued the idea of home ownership much like other immigrants who wanted to build a magnificent house on large lots because many struggled to acquire them back in their home country. His designs created the unique look and style of Northern Chicago.Jensen’s greatest achievement was also his final step in cementing his place as a visionary landscape architect, when he designed the school in Northern Wisconsin called The Clearing. He designed The Clearing to showcase the incorporation of nature and the buildings as one fluid design. When designing this masterpiece, he brought in many aspects of his heritage. For example, he used the sweetbriar rose, which bloomed in hedges on his childhood farm, and became part of the door to his log cabin.* In defending his use of natural, curving lines in his house and his designs, he talks about how straight lines have nothing to do with landscaping, that nature has no straight lines and landscaping is derived from nature.* Yet, one important factor which Jensen never mentioned was how the area around The Clearing resembles the area in which he grew up. Lake Michigan is much like the Baltic Sea as one drives on the country roads, where the bluffs are in plain sight.* Jensen modeled his own school after the one which influenced his life: the Danish folk school. He stressed communal living, handicraft, and the household arts, as well as the tradition of welcoming long stays of prestigious guests and centering on the spoken word.* The Clearing was one of Jensen’s greatest achievements and kept him occupied in his later life, especially after his wife died. As written by Sid Telfer who personally knew Jensen, “Jensen was always ready for a good time, anything for excitement, company, an argument, a trip by car or a hike in the woods”.* He always welcomed guests, even if he hardly knew them, much like other Danish-Americans, serving them coffee and treating anyone who came kindly. Jensen was unique in regards to the time he reached his golden age of landscape architecture or when he was commissioned to produce the majority of his parks or designs. The fact that he emigrated much later in life, and had the Danish values of hard work and determination as he rose through the ranks, meant by the time he reached perfection he was over 40 years old. This allowed for Jensen to keep his principles intact and through his experience, he was able to stand firm in his style and his belief that all places should incorporate climate, terrain, and the plant materials of the native region.* The natural stubbornness of Jensen is seen throughout



Ibid., 21.

Ibid., 24.

Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 213. Ibid., 217.

Sid Telfer, The Jens Jensen I Knew, (Ellison Bay, WI: Driftwood Farms, 1982), 28.

Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America, (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 82.


Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 82. V. L. Russell, “You Dear Old Prima Donna: The Letters of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jens Jensen.” Landscape Journal (20.2 (2001): 141-55.), 143. Ibid., 144.

Ibid., 244.

V. L. Russell, “You Dear Old Prima Donna: The Letters of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jens Jensen.” Landscape Journal (20.2 (2001): 141-55.), 145-146. Ibid., 147.

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the majority of the Scandinavian immigrants who settled and struggled to make the prairies of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois prosperous. While working in Chicago, Jensen developed a relationship with the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and through their interactions one sees his Danish values. Jensen’s relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright is a unique and personal one even though they only collaborated on the Coonley House of 1908 and the house for Mrs. Abby Longyear Roberts in Marquette, Michigan in 1935.* Their relationship developed through their interactions while they worked in the Steinway Hall, made frequent visits to the Ravinia Studio, and had memberships in the Dweller Club. They both also frequently travelled to Jane Addams’ Hull House.* Through their letters to each other, one better understands their relationship: they respected each other, yet they questioned each other’s greatness. As Wright notes, “they are both stars in their field, yet they never work together, and that they will choose to work with a lesser brilliance”.* Through these writings back and forth, one can see how Jensen’s religion comes into his life. He is humble and tries to show Wright how to be humble about his greatness. He writes how his upbringing during the invasion and his experience with the prejudices his father showed his wife were the reasons that he was honored with his success. Jensen writes that, “We are no gods, but just humans, created in the reflection of the Great Master”.* Later in that same letter to Wright, Jensen criticizes Wright and says that he should be humble and count his blessings.* This is reflective of the Scandinavian idea of being humble in wealth and their overall belief in religion. Scandinavians, as well as Jensen, believed in hard work, but that it all can be taken away in a second. Another topic which is brought up in their letters is the situation of higher education in America. Wright had multiple discussions with Jensen about founding a school. They both were influenced by their previous experiences in education. While Wright left college without a degree, Jensen never went to college but instead was influenced by his Danish folk school. Jensen thought that learning was about more than books and lectures; one should experience nature, which through his own works one can see he lived this value. He always tried to present a natural and real picture to his audience, the general populace.* These discussions, and the death of Jensen’s wife, led Jensen to found his own landscape school, The Clearing, which Jensen described as “a place where rural life bordered on the wilderness an outpost facing the setting sun for there was the hope of tomorrow”.* He envisioned a place of higher learning by experiencing the natural beauty that existed at his

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home in Northern Wisconsin. There was, however, a difference in their styles of teaching. Wright went with more of a university style because of his pursuit of an official title at the School of Architecture, while Jensen wanted to reach a broad range of the population, which exemplifies his Danish roots in his acceptance of the broad range of people, and how he viewed nature as belonging to everyone and not just a few people. His folk school taught him to cooperate with the general populace in order to create a community and he passed this along to his students by making them go out and participate in community and regional conservation organizations. This was a common mentality through Scandinavian-American communities in forming co-ops and their belief that people should help out their community. His impact on conservation led to many parks and preserves in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. He always reminded the politicians of those states that they had a grave responsibility to protect nature.* Wright and Jensen even had a difference in how they referred to their students, while Wright called his students ‘apprentices,’ Jensen called them students. The end of their friendship came during World War II when Wright asked for Jensen’s signature on his petition titled Broadacre City Model. This was a plan to try and keep many Japanese and German designs alive and protected.* Jensen’s experience with Germany led him to reject this model as he did not see it as a necessity. This shows directly how his Danish upbringing, his distrust of Germany, and his service in the German Army led him to lose a close friend. Jens Jensen had a lasting influence on Chicago and the landscape architectural field. His history of being raised on a farm, his education in the Vinding Folk School, and his time in Berlin makes up an important part of his Danish heritage. Jensen shows this influence through his designs of the public parks, the private estates, and his school The Clearing, also in his relationships with Frank Lloyd Wright and Jane Addams. Jensen not only changed the landscape of Chicago’s park system but also influenced Americans like Walter Burley Griffin, a fellow landscape architect. Griffin’s designs completely embraced the prairie style of Jensen and they both completely rejected the European design. Jensen’s own experience in the large cost of maintaining the French gardens in Berlin influenced him to create easy, maintainable gardens with natural designs and Griffin embraced it.* These men would be acquainted with each other as they were both members of the City Club of Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Club. These meetings profoundly shaped Griffin’s life through Jensen’s belief in the open, horizontal landscape, and the use of indigenous plants


Leonard K. Eaton and Jens Jensen, Landscape Artist in America (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964), 227.

V. L. Russell, “You Dear Old Prima Donna: The Letters of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jens Jensen.” Landscape Journal (20.2 (2001): 141-55.), 150-151.

Walter L. Creese and John S. Garner, The Midwest in American Architecture (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1991), 217.


Walter L. Creese. and John S. Garner, The Midwest in American Architecture (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1991), 222.

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to recreate the prairie landscape. Their bond was created through this mutual inspirational aspect of their beliefs. A viewer can see Jensen’s own values in Griffins designs.* Jens Jensen lived a long and fulfilling life and changed the Midwest landscape and American culture while bringing a unique view of the Danish immigrant. His experiences were much like his fellow Scandinavians as he, for example, fought for the common man, was stubborn in his ways, yet humble with his success. Jensen’s ability to use his Danish values and ideas of beauty changed American and Danish-American culture and showed how he kept his Danish roots and beliefs in his heart and mind. ◼

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Jarka Chloupkova, Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen, and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, “Building and Destroying Social Capital: The Case of Cooperative Movements in Denmark and Poland,” Agricultural and Human Values 20, no. 3 (2003): 241-52, http:// article/10.1023%2FA%3 A1026141807305#page-1. Anders Buch-Jepsen, “A Brief History of Denmark-Denmark in the 1800s,” My Danish Roots, Last modified 2013, http://www. history-cultureheritage/a-briefhistory-of-denmarkdenmark-in-the-1800s. html. Bo Lars Jensen and Jesper Brunholm Scharff, “Hans Christian Andersen Center,” Department for the Study of Culture at the University of Southern Denmark, last modified October 11, 2013, http://www.andersen. index_e.html.

The Sandman is a mythical character, popular in Central and Northern European folklore, who brings sleep by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children. The tale of the “The Sandman” has been written numerous times from the perspective of many different cultures, and, as a result, each version of the story drastically differs. Some portray the Sandman as good and lovable while others focus on the morbidity of death. I will focus on the magical fairytale version written by Hans Christian Andersen and the inverse depiction of the Sandman as a sinister character in the version written by ETA Hoffmann. Andersen and Hoffmann portray drastically different representations of the Sandman due to the different historical moments in which they were written. Furthermore, the influences of Biedermeier Romanticism and Gothic fiction, respectively, also significantly affected their writings. Andersen’s tale “The Sandman” was greatly influenced by the historical context of the year in which it was written and the prevalent literary movement at the time. The same can be said for Hoffmann’s tale “Der Sandmann”. During the late 1600s, Denmark, Andersen’s birthplace, was emerging from the Thirty Years War. Following the wars, the previous leaders of government, the nobility, had been significantly weakened allowing the absolute monarchy to strengthen its power. This led to the full establishment of the absolute monarchy in 1660 by Frederick III.* Many years later, beginning in the 1800s, there was a large growth in the modern system of public education and social welfare leading to the continued interest and increase in the development of literature and philosophy.* This growth soon led to the widespread demand for a new liberal and centralized democracy. In 1841, the year “The Sandman” was written, Denmark was in the height of the Danish liberal and national movements.* Following the July Revolution in 1830, many wealthy Danish merchants and professionals demanded a more liberal constitution. The liberal movement grew in strength as many academics, along with the middle classes, joined in the

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fight against the conservative administration.* The National Liberal Party was a Danish political party popular from the 1830s until the early 1880s, founded in opposition to the once popular Danish absolute monarchy. At this time, Denmark was bursting with a sense of prosperity because of the upturn in both the liberal and national movements. These movements were a driving force and the precursor to the demise of the absolute monarchy that was replaced by a constitutional monarchy in 1848. “The Sandman” was written at a time when the people of Denmark began to have a desire and need for empowerment. Merchants, industrialists, and especially those affiliated with academia helped found the National Liberal Movement and were the people who desired and saw the benefit of having a democracy.* In 1841, the excitement of the possible abolishment of the absolute monarchy greatly influenced the popularity of the Biedermeier literary movement. The Biedermeier literary movement was very much a product of the tranquil time in history in which it was developed, as it was bookended by the Napoleonic Wars and European Revolutions.* Biedermeier became popular in the nineteenth century during the end of the Romantic and Realist movements. By definition, Biedermeier is seen as a simplified, more harmonious form of Romanticism that focuses on the development of the inner self.* There is no evil or unhappiness represented in Biedermeier; furthermore, the genre eliminates all discussion of anything deemed to be taboo. Lastly, Biedermeier literature also features highly detailed descriptions of the natural world. Literature classified as Biedermeier “continues on many of the themes addressed by Romanticism including the exploration of inner life.”* Highlighted throughout the works of Andersen, and many other Biedermeier authors, is the power of inner qualities that a person possesses. The movement emphasizes the importance of these qualities and stresses that what is on the inside greatly outweighs one’s outer qualities such as social class. Moreover, Biedermeier culture “was marked by retreat from the grand visionary pursuits of Romanticism.”* The movement led society away from valuing extravagant goods and toward spending time and energy on pursuing a humble existence in and around nature. Striving for the most flamboyant possessions was no longer necessary and instead humility took the place of what was valued by society. Another identifying characteristic of Biedermeier is the lack of discussion of any negative subject matter. Melancholy and grief are not represented in Biedermeier; additionally, anything deemed to fall in these categories is portrayed in a positive manner and seen not as a remorseful


Jepsen, A Brief History of Denmark.

Norman Berdichevsky, “Hans Christian Andersen,” in An Introduction to Danish Culture, (North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2011), 120-29. Tom Lundsker Nielsen, “Andersen, Hans Christian,” in Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850, Vol. 1, ed. Christopher John Murray (New York: Routledge, 2003), 1921. Google e-book. Sven Hakon Rossel, “The Breakdown of the Biedermeier Culture,” in A History of Danish Literature, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), 217-27. Nielsen, ”Andersen, Hans Christian,” 19. Tom Lundsker Nielsen, “Andersen, Hans Christian,” in Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850, Vol. 1, ed. Christopher John Murray (New York: Routledge, 2003), 1921. Google e-book.


Anders Buch-Jepsen, “A Brief History of Denmark-Denmark in the 1800s,” My Danish Roots, Last modified 2013, http://www. history-cultureheritage/a-briefhistory-of-denmarkdenmark-in-the-1800s. html.

“Biedermeier Style of Art,” Encyclopedia of Art History, last modified 2010, http:// www.visual-arts-cork. com/history-of art/ biedermeier.htm.

Hans Christian Andersen, “The Sandman,” in Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, (New York: Anchor, 1983), 177-89.

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event. Until 1849 there was a high degree of control on publication and the level of censorship within Denmark.* Authors would be required to have their material approved by a censor prior to publication. Because they were not allowed to discuss all subject matter, Biedermeier authors focused their time on topics that would not be scrutinized by a censor. Topics typically avoided or portrayed from an idyllic perspective would be death, sex, public crimes, punishment, etc. These ‘taboo’ subjects were allowed only in discussions within the home and within the company of close friends and family. Public censorship, along with other factors, encouraged Biedermeier authors to avoid these saddening topics, and write material for their readers that was enlightening and described a serene setting. Lastly, Biedermeier focused on a picturesque interpretation of the era. The movement continued the importance of an introspective connection to nature originally seen in the Romantic Movement. “In Denmark, the Biedermeier era coincided with the ‘Danish Golden Age.’”* The Danish Golden Age covered the creative period that took place during the first half of the nineteenth century. The period is most often associated with the exponential growth of Danish painting; at the time art teachers heavily encouraged their students to focus on landscape painting. During this period of the Danish Golden Age, which was directly correlated with the Biedermeier movement, many artists – painters along with writers – centralized their material around the beauty of nature and specifically the Danish countryside. The importance of inner qualities, especially that of humility, the benign treatment of distressing topics, and the continuation of a connection with nature are all characteristics of the Biedermeier movement that are clearly displayed in Andersen’s tale “The Sandman.” In “The Sandman,” Andersen highlights the importance and benefit of being humble. Moreover, the quality of humility is contrasted against egocentrism. This is first illustrated in the text when a lonely spittoon complains that the other furniture is too self-absorbed: “They all talked about themselves except for the spittoon; it stood silently in its corner, it was so disgusted by the vanity and egocentricity of all the others, who only thought about themselves.”* In this example, the characteristic of humility represented by the innocent and soft-spoken spittoon is portrayed as a positive trait because it is juxtaposed against the egocentrism and self-absorbency of the other furniture. As a reader, this comparison highlights that the ability to be humble is a desirable characteristic. The example of the spittoon also exemplifies that the label given to one by society does

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not determine one’s worth, but rather worth is determined by one’s inner character. The spittoon is described as the bottom of the social hierarchy because he merely stands in the corner and gets spit at. However, as a reader one sympathizes with him and value his character because he possesses humility in contrast to the disgusting characteristics of the others. By highlighting the importance of developing the inner self and reflecting on the importance of inner, as opposed to external qualities, Andersen is representing one prominent feature of the Biedermeier movement. In the tale “The Sandman,” the dark and morbid topic of death is presented at the end of the story. However, following the Biedermeier genre, Andersen expresses death from a positive perspective, making the subject approachable and appropriate to discuss. In Andersen’s version of “The Sandman,” death is introduced as the Sandman’s brother. The reader already associates positive qualities with the Sandman because he has taken Hjalmar on many wonderful journeys. Because of this positive association, Death being introduced as the Sandman’s brother illustrates to the reader that Death is associated with the good characteristics of his brother. Additionally, the Sandman informs Hjalmar that his brother is not as bad as he is often depicted: “You can see that he doesn’t look nearly as bad as they make him out to be in the picture books…No his coat is embroidered with silver…a cloak of black velvet floats behind him…see how he gallops along.”* The representation of Death as someone majestic sitting upon a horse avoids any connotations of grief or sorrow and rather depicts the topic of death as intriguing to the young boy. “Why Death is the most beautiful Sandman. I’m not afraid of him,” Hjalmar exclaims after seeing Death take away both the good and bad citizens.* Andersen has the boy make this strong assertion that truly represents how a topic of utmost sadness is portrayed in a way that is deemed positive and exciting in Biedermeier literature. The story of “The Sandman” also demonstrates the importance of having an introspective connection to nature. As Hjalmar enters his dreams, he becomes closer to nature: “At once all the potted plants grew into huge trees that reached all the way to the ceiling… the room became the loveliest green arbor.”* As Hjalmar becomes closer to nature through his dreams, he is able to explore his fantasy while leaving behind the shadow existence of civilization that is imprisoning his imagination. Nature is seen as the venue of escape that Hjalmar uses to explore his unconscious. In the text, nature is described in glorious and extended detail. The in-depth description of nature and limited details for other aspects of the story represent the importance and value of nature above man-made


Hans Christian Andersen, “The Sandman,” in Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, (New York: Anchor, 1983), 177-89.



Hans Christian Andersen, “The Sandman,” in Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, (New York: Anchor, 1983), 177-89.

Mark Walker. “Germany and the Emigration 1816-1885,” Library of Congress Catalog 64-13431 (2003): 2-5, http://www.mrhalliday. com/gbhalliday/ Genealogywebpg/ Hommerding/ GermanyEmigration 1816-1885%20.pdf.

Ibid., 3. Ibid., 5.

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and artificial objects. Hjalmar views nature with amazement and therefore it is described in vivid detail. The happiness of Hjalmar is juxtaposed to the unhappiness of the man-made objects in his room. In the midst of the beauty of nature that is taking over the bedroom, two objects are left saddened: “The sound of sighing and whimpering came from the table drawer where Hjalmar kept his schoolbooks… It was the slate that was sighing.”* In a bedroom full of beauty and happiness, the two things that were not overjoyed were the two man-made creations – the slate and the exercise book. The selection of these two items as representations of unhappiness symbolizes the distinction between culture and nature. Nature brings Hjalmar happiness while these two items, which symbolize man-made culture, deter his sense of joy and his ability to be creative. The dualism of culture and nature signifies the desire for man to become closer with nature. Nature is what brings him pleasure while the corporeal society that surrounds him leads to displeasure. Nature encourages imagination and creativity whereas man-made objects seem to prevent it. The Biedermeier movement puts a strong emphasis on creating a connection between oneself and nature. Andersen was greatly influenced by the Biedermeier movement when writing “The Sandman.” The text centers around the beauty and goodness that arise from being close with nature. Because of his reflection on inner qualities, avoidance of evil topics, and emphasis put on having a connection with nature, Andersen utilizes many Biedermeier characteristics in his tale “The Sandman.” Contrary to Andersen’s Biedermeier tale, ETA Hoffmann wrote “Der Sandmann” from a drastically different perspective. The distinction between these stories can be attributed to Hoffmann’s historical moment and the literary movements that were prevalent at the time he wrote “Der Sandmann.” In 1816, the year “Der Sandmann” was written, Germany was confronting large amounts of emigration and citizens were dissatisfied with revolutionary changes the country was facing.* The French-German war fought at the Battle of Waterloo ended in June of the previous year, 1815. Following the war, citizens throughout the nation experienced feelings of instability and restlessness due to the loss of loved ones and the uncertainty that results from returning from war.* Moreover, wages for citizens were cut in half from what they were in 1815 due to the demobilization of troops.* Not only were wages being reduced but the country was also facing a job shortage. England was flooding the country with inexpensive goods that displaced those in the textile industry and putting many Germans out of work. The deterioration of wages and the level of

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uncertainty experienced by the citizens influenced many people to emigrate out of the country in hopes of finding work and more prosperous conditions. By late 1816 citizens – by the thousands – were fleeing for Russia and North America.* Often times those that fled had no plan in mind but rather needed to escape the country before the level of deterioration increased. The conditions at the ports – overpopulated from the high level of emigration – were unbearable and further inhibited the citizens and the image of Germany. The instability faced by the nation is appropriately characterized through Gothic fiction. Often identified by taking place in a “fallen world,” Gothic fiction directly mimics the nation of Germany at the time. Gothic fiction is a literary movement that combines elements of fiction, romance, and horror. The Gothic movement originated with the identification of Gothic architecture. During the eighteenth century Europeans rediscovered Greek and Roman buildings that had been previously erected.* However, in the current times the buildings were believed to be a disgrace and not in tune with the Classical style of buildings that were being built at the time. Because of this dissatisfaction and the physical deterioration that was present, these unfit buildings were deemed to be a part of the Gothic architecture genre. The connection between Gothic architecture and the literary movement resulted when the settings selected for these Gothic novels often took place in Gothic style architecture. Not only did the stories take place in Gothic style architecture such as old castles and manors, but the setting also played an integral role in the plot of the story.* In Gothic fiction the setting not only provides background for the horror that is about to take place, but it also illustrates the deterioration of the world around the characters in the story. This deterioration references back to the architecture from which the literary movement originated. Literature that is classified as Gothic takes place in a world that is far from Biedermeier, but rather characterized by an atmosphere of terror and horror. As previously mentioned, Gothic fiction is also influenced by Romantic characteristics. The literary Gothic embodies an appreciation of varying emotion, the thrills of fearfulness, and the need to accomplish a quest, characteristics also common in the Romantic Movement. However, the Gothic movement can also be identified by going against the correctness and rigidness customary in Romanticism.* The story line is suspenseful and unpredictable, and stories do not always end ‘happily ever after.’ Lastly, the plot and characters typical of a Gothic story represent that of a fallen world. The gothic protagonist falls from his or her goodness as he or she succumbs to the villain in the story. This pattern is illustrated



David De Vore, Anne Domenic, Alexandra Kwan, and Nicole Reidy, “The Gothic Novel,” http://cai. 155breport.html.


David De Vore, et al., Anne Domenic, Alexandra Kwan, and Nicole Reidy, “The Gothic Novel,” http://cai.ucdavis. edu/waters-sites/ gothicnovel/ 155breport.html.


E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman,” last modified 1999, http:// hoffmann/sand_e.html.


Kayta Gruneberg

in most gothic stories and does not necessarily result in a blissful ending. Moreover, because of the fall of the protagonist, Gothic authors often spend time focusing on the evilness, darkness, and temptation that symbolizes a fallen world. The underlying theme of the fallen hero also mimics real-world struggles. Although many elements of Gothic literature focus on the supernatural and unrealistic story lines, the recurring theme of falling for temptation is something relatable for all. The representation of a deteriorating world, use of Romantic attributes, and the selection of characters and plot to symbolize the fall are all characteristics of Gothic fiction that are clearly displayed in Hoffmann’s tale “Der Sandmann.” In “Der Sandmann” Hoffmann illustrates that the once comforting home for Nathaniel turns into a world filled with obsession and rage in order to avenge the death of his father. Nathaniel loses his family, lover, and friends through the process of trying to find the man he believes is his father’s killer, Coppelius. Through Nathaniel’s loss of his friends and family, Hoffmann is illustrating one of the cornerstones of Gothic literature, the representation of the fallen world. The deterioration of Nathaniel’s world is also displayed through the loss of his mental stability. Nathaniel blamed the death of his father on Coppelius even after it was brought to his attention by Clara that his death was most likely a result of an alchemy explosion. From this point on, the reader sees the decomposition of Nathaniel’s mental stability: “Nathaniel had undergone a complete change in his whole being. He sank into a gloomy reverie, and behaved in a strange manner that had never been known in him before.”* Hoffmann uses the downward spiraling of Nathaniel’s mentality to gradually illustrate the detrimental atmosphere he faced that ultimately led to his suicide, Nathaniel’s literal fall. Another characteristic of Gothic literature is the use of Romantic qualities. Hoffmann includes Romantic characteristics throughout his tale “Der Sandmann.” The literary Gothic, along with Romanticism, embodies an appreciation for varying emotion. Specifically, Nathaniel’s emotion in regards to who he believes the Sandman is fluctuates considerably throughout the story. As a young boy, the mystery of the Sandman frightens him: “he was a hideous, spectral monster, who brought with him grief, misery and destruction–temporal and eternal–wherever he appeared.”* Nathaniel later believes that the Sandman was the reason for his father’s death, and his emotions radically change from fear to anger. The constant swings in emotion are a profound aspect of both the Gothic and Romantic movements. Another plot line common in both forms of literature is the need

The Sandman

for a character to accomplish a quest. Nathaniel decides to go on a quest to find Coppelius in order to avenge the death of his father. This quest is ultimately never accomplished as Nathaniel develops such a corrupted mind that he is only able to kill himself when he eventually confronts Coppelius. Many Romantic and Gothic stories are framed around the premise of sending a protagonist on a quest in order to accomplish a task—this often encompasses extreme emotions and the thrills of fearfulness. Conclusively, Hoffmann selects specific characters and an underlying theme customary to Gothic literature. There is a protagonist who becomes isolated from others, voluntarily or involuntarily. There is also a villain who is the epitome of all evil, and throughout the story the protagonist submits to the overwhelming wickedness of the villain. Lastly, there is the character of the wanderer who is completely exiled and isolated. In Hoffman’s “Der Sandmann,” Nathaniel is seen as both the protagonist and the wanderer who has become isolated from others: “…so that they [Clara and Nathaniel] became mentally more and more estranged without either of them perceiving it.”* Hoffmann places the villain Coppelius in between the relationship of Clara and Nathaniel to begin the growing feeling of isolation that Nathaniel faces throughout the story. In the text, Coppelius is described as the epitome of all evil. As a child, Nathaniel and his siblings are unable to eat the food he touches because his “coarse brown hairy fists” are monstrous and so very repulsive.* Furthermore, as the story develops and the fear of Coppelius is instilled in Nathaniel, the reader begins to notice the role of the villain character and how he begins to wedge himself between the protagonist and the rest of society: “Coppelius would destroy his happiness…occasionally [his happiness] was threatened by a black hand which appeared to dart into their lives, to snatch away some new joy as it was born.”* Because of the creation of a deteriorating atmosphere, use of Romantic characteristics, and representation of a fallen world, Hoffmann wrote the tale “Der Sandmann” based on many Gothic fiction influences. The drastically differing portrayals of “The Sandman” written by Hans Christian Andersen and ETA Hoffman were due to the different historical and literary movements that were taking place in Denmark and Germany, respectively. Andersen focused his portrayal on the upbeat positive features of the Biedermeier literary movement whereas Hoffmann filled his tale with darkness and death prevalent throughout the Gothic fiction literary movement. Although the two authors use radically different styles, they both offer legitimate portrayals of the mythical character the Sandman. ◼


E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman,” last modified 1999, http:// hoffmann/sand_e.html.



Steve Horn

T h e S a g a o f t h e Volsungs

This drawing was inspired by the epic poem “The Saga of the Volsungs.” The image depicts Sigurd the Dragon Slayer defeating Fafnir. This is a key moment in the poem, solidifying Sigurd’s place in history as a great warrior. The drawing reflects a common style in Norse and Icelandic art: the knot. The knot is used to show the interconnectedness and familial ties in much of this ancient literature. As someone who studies comic and cartoon drawing, I looked to take a modern approach and fuse it with old styles and traditions. ◼



“So, where are you from?” is the polite way of asking “Who are you?” to strangers. Either way I remain conflicted answering the question. The honest, full answer of this question is much too complicated to give most people who ask. My answers all have varying levels of detail, and I’ve learned from experience to give the one that will require the least explanation. If the person is actually interested in getting to know me, they’ll ask follow-up questions. I think of myself as a Choose Your Own Adventure book. On any given night I can be a product of suburbia who can carry their weight in sports talk, a lost country boy who is more at home in the fields than in a building, or an exotic foreigner who can speak another language. My suburbanite credentials are from outside St. Louis where I grew up, mostly because I don’t remember much from my first four years of life outside Cincinnati, Ohio. For family events and holidays we commuted to Weeping Water, Nebraska, population 1,042 according to the sign, anyway. On my grandma’s small, secluded plot it felt more like population 5 but only while we were in town. We spent enough time there that I can feign expertise in farming life, but not enough to go up against anyone who can do more than identify a hay baler. Operating big vehicles still intimidates me. I side much more with my European side when it comes to car size. My Finnish passport certifies my pedigree of having an immigrant father. Telling people I’m Finnish doesn’t always have the “wow” factor I would hope for, especially since most people don’t know where it is on a map. My language skills are somewhere between passable and a third grader, but luckily there aren’t enough Finnish speakers to debunk my touted expertise. Yes, I can say something in Finnish: “Kyllä, mä voin puhua suomea, mutta se on tyhmä koska et ymmärä mitä minä sanon.” It means “Yes, I can speak Finnish, but that is stupid because you don’t understand what I’m saying.” Yes, I know the curse words. Depending on my mood this could lead down a rabbit hole of talking about my history of learning the language and fielding any questions the person has about Finland. Or, if I don’t plan on remembering the person’s name, I’ll stick with the weather and baseball talk.

I n t h e C a s e o f D avid v. David

I’m lucky enough to be a white male with a Midwestern accent I can hide behind, so I get to be selective with my actual identity, which is a balancing act of this amalgam of cultures. Sometimes I wonder, ‘If Finland went to war with the United States, which side would I fight for?’ Then I remember I’m a pacifist and would probably have to seek political asylum in Canada. The greater question still remains, though. Which culture do I belong to? Historically I take the most pride in Finland. Perhaps this is because much of the history of ethnically Finnish people is simple. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirms the following summary of Finnish history. Through the middle of the 12th century Finland had no central government or ruling body, though the land bordered both Sweden and Russia. In 1323 a treaty was signed between the two powers, making Finland an administrative district of Sweden. As Sweden’s power declined Russia pressed its advantage, waging war in 1808 to take control of the territory in 1809 and officially created a Grand Duchy that was autonomously administered. Russia fell into turmoil in 1905, and in 1917 an independence movement rose to make Finland a separate nation. The country fell into a bloody civil war between the loyalists and separatists, ending in 1919 with the formation of the Republic of Finland. The wounds of the civil war were not overcome until the Soviet Union invaded in 1939. Despite facing a superpower with substantially more troops and recourses, Finland was able to unite and resist the winter invasion with skis, Molotov cocktails, and forest coverage, with an armistice finally being reached in 1944.* All of my exposure to literature, TV, and movies has told me that this is one of the great success stories in history. The small David of Finland staving off the Goliath of Russia to achieve its sovereignty is an epic I am proud to call my heritage. The story of America’s independence from England has similar elements of overcoming long odds, but cognitively I can’t help but question the actions taken in the formation of the colonies and many of the actions taken by the country since. In America’s self-portrait there are too many details that are glossed over to call David innocent. Finland’s relation with the indigenous people, the Sami, has a much shorter history. Although not perfect, Finland’s relations caused much less severe damage than American relations with indigenous peoples; as of 1996 the Finnish government “must negotiate with the Sami Parliament on all decisions that will affect the Sami as indigenous peoples.”* From what I remember learning in school, the American occupation of the East Coast was seemingly only limited by the population of whites, with little acknowledgement of Native Americans other than their hostility and


Dr. Seppo Zetterberg, “Main Outlines of Finnish History,” Finland Promotion Board, January 2014, Public/default. aspx?contentid=160058.

Stefan Ekenberg, “Indigenous Peoples and Rights: A Baseline Study of Socioeconomic effects of Northland Resources Ore Establishment in Northern Sweden and Finland,” Lulea University of Technology, 2008, portal/files/4717921/ Indigenous_Peoples_ final.pdf.


Phillip J. Deloria, “I Am Not a Mascot,” in Native American Literature: An Anthology 1999, ed. Lawana Trout (Chicago: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc., 1999), 46. Vine Deloria, Jr. “Indian Humor,” in Native American Literature: An Anthology 1999, ed. Lawana Trout (Chicago: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc., 1999), 655.

Joseph Bruhac, “Ellis Island,” in Native American Literature: An Anthology 1999, ed. Lawana Trout (Chicago: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc., 1999), 408 (line 18). “The Constitution of the United States,” Preamble.

Kerry Jarvi

their generosity with corn. As a linguistic and cultural minority group of Sweden and Russia, Finland’s story of independence almost sounds like what Native Americans might have dreamed of when faced with westward expansion by the United States. Finland was lucky enough to have a nearly homogenous population whose differences were largely political and possible to overcome in the face of invasion. The term “Indian,” contrastingly, seems to have only two ways in which it unifies. The first is as an ascribed identity, which is described in Philip J. Deloria’s essay “I Am Not a Mascot.” He highlights how these caricatures are used as a sort of celebration of cultural domination. Indeed, it seems that as a reward for the ability to conquer the majority white population and their athletic teams they have earned the ‘right’ to portray the conquered nations as they please.* By Vine Deloria Jr.’s account, the second binding factor between different natives is a mutually identified coping mechanism- a sense of humor. In his essay, “Indian Humor,” his opening line wonderfully describes the reason humor can serve as a unification point as he writes, “One of the best ways to understand a people is to know what makes them laugh…in humor life is redefined and accepted.”* For this reason, then, the jokes on Columbus and Colonel Custer appear to be some of the few universal touch points that exist between all tribes. Status ascription, broken treaties, and displacement are the legacy left by westward expansion and the foundations of the white mainstream American population. Joseph Bruchac described in his poem “Ellis Island” the emotions that swept over him while visiting the Statue of Liberty. Through one side of his family he feels hope, optimism, and opportunity with the arrival on American shores, but, being partially Native American, he writes “yet only one part of my blood loves that memory,”* capturing the same conflict I feel as I anonymously receive privilege for the actions taken to establish the United States. As often the American David is portrayed vanquishing his enemies to “establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility,”* I can’t help but think about the rifle he held in his other hand pointed at the indigenous. My Finnish lineage and history feel like a morally sound reason for my genetic existence. As an American I just have to continue suspending belief for the justification for the land beneath my feet as long as I live on conquered land. A great element of many Native American cultures that is largely missing from modern American mainstream culture is a spiritual journey. For various religions there is a rite of passage, but there is a difference between being knowledgeable of spiritual practices and building a fundamental connection between one’s self and the universe. John Fire Lame Deer with Richard Erdoes published “Alone on a Hilltop,” which told the

I n t h e C a s e o f D avid v. David

story of his hamblechia, his vision quest, where he knew that “when it was all over, [he] would no longer be a boy, but a man. [He] would have had [his] vision.”* Being from a secular home makes it difficult to comment on the impact that Confirmation had. From my friends I got the impression that it was bothersome to go to church regularly, but also a relief that once their obligation was completed their grandparents (and sometimes parents) would no longer pressure them to practice religion regularly. Fundamentally, my friends remained unchanged from their passage, so I felt no envy. The suburban community I came from provided no clear time frame for when my generation would ‘grow up,’ only an expectation we would participate in school and other activities somehow culminating in transformation into a new person. At fifteen I found myself lying in a bed staring up at the ceiling wondering, ‘How did I get here?’ I still do not remember how the conversations went or the decisions that had been made. Unwittingly I had somehow become an exchange student living in Finland. I recall scoffing at the “culture shock” training. Culture shock? Ha! I’ve been studying Finland my whole life. There was nothing I didn’t already know about the country. I remember meeting with all the other students in New York City before they flew to all corners of the globe and hearing how nervous and excited they all were. I was cool, calm, and relaxed. I was an experienced traveler and even knew the language of the country I was going to. The flight was like any other trip, only I was greeted by complete strangers when I got off the plane. My new family was warm and welcoming. They tried to get to know me by asking about my interests, making me realize I knew nothing about myself. I was horrified. Half-answers about friends and spending time outside held them off temporarily. Meanwhile, I tried desperately to understand what was happening to me. My mind swam from hearing all the language. I had embarked on a vision quest that I didn’t sign up for. The room they gave me became my mental fortress. Staring at that ceiling, in the country that was supposed to be my second home, I completely and totally lost myself. Only in hindsight can I recognize that the question I had no answer to was, “Who am I?” At the time I became paralyzed with anxiety and retreated within myself, preferring isolation to risking becoming someone who would be unrecognizable to my friends back home. Home. Home! There was my answer! If only I were home I could talk to my friends about the twisted feeling of isolation in my chest. If only I were home, everything would go back to normal. And so began the process of doing whatever was necessary to get back to where I wanted


Richard Erdoes and John Fire Lame Deer, “Alone on a Hilltop,” in Native American Literature: An Anthology 1999, ed. Lawana Trout (Chicago: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc., 1999), 135.


Kerry Jarvi

to be. I listened to every suggestion from my host family, my parents, the exchange program, jumping through every hoop they gave me, determined to let nothing sway my objective of returning home. I went to an orientation where all the students on exchange to Finland in my region gathered. There were bonding activities, trust exercises, discussions, reflections, and projections. We were each given a sheet of paper to write a letter to our future selves to be read during closing orientation just before going home. Mine said, “Dear Kerry, if you’re still here reading this letter then go fuck yourself. Sincerely, Kerry.” I may not have known who I was, but I knew what I wanted and nothing would stop me from getting it. Two and a half months into my exchange, I stepped off the plane in St. Louis and was overwhelmed with relief. I finally rejoined society and the self-inflicted seclusion ended. Lame Deer’s vision quest taught him who he was; mine taught me the same thing. Who was I? I was a child. I was nothing without context. I was someone who would delay facing myself in the mirror as long as I could. The move to Lincoln, Nebraska away from my family and friends was when I fully began questioning my composition through a combination of classes and meeting new people who would ask that same question, “Where are you from?” in order to determine all they needed to know about me. I quickly realized that explaining my Finnish heritage was much too lengthy, and I immediately needed to find something to make friends to avoid the exchange student disaster again. I jokingly refer to my freshman year as having majored in sports, wearing proudly the symbols of my Cardinals baseball team in hopes of having a neutral conversation topic I could use to connect with anyone. Through my first two years I went through an extensive trial and error process of different aspects of my personality, picking up a number of good friends with whom I could bond over certain aspects of my character. Occasionally worlds collided, but as time passed I grew unsatisfied with each component and restless in my search for self-identity. Political Science became my major in the hopes of understanding the composition of the American political system and the way things work so that I might have a way of helping society overcome the injustices of the past and move into a brighter future. Instead, I became more jaded, cynical, and frustrated with the realities of achieving progress in the United States. Overcome by anxiety from my identity crisis, I found there was only one answer that would satisfy my question of national identity: return to Finland. Determined and with the complete support of my family and community, I returned to Finland with confidence and set out to answer the

I n t h e C a s e o f D avid v. David

question, “Am I Finnish?” and finally resolve my crisis. Like Lame Deer alone on his hilltop, I spent much of my time alone in my room, thinking, meditating, and indulging in ways I never had time to do before. Time was the greatest resource study abroad had brought me. Finally I was able to cleanse myself in the way Lame Deer did with his cries and dreams, removed from all obligations and focusing only on finding an answer within myself.* In significant contrast from Lame Deer, though, was my communication with the world. After spending four days in isolation he is awoken by old man Chest, his spirit guide, who told him that “he would interpret [Lame Deer’s] visions for [him]. He told [Lame Deer] that the vision pit had changed [him] in a way that [he] would not be able to understand at that time. He told [Lame Deer] that [he] was no longer a boy, that [he] was a man now. [He] was Lame Deer.”* I had no elder to give meaning to my thoughts and interpret the images of my projected self. What I had instead was the loving help of old friends, my parents, my sisters, and a close friend who talked me through my studies, my language and cultural questions, my relationships, and ultimately the line between who I was and who I wanted to be. When I returned, it was clear the way I was living my life did not reflect my ideal self and would not allow me to achieve my goal of helping others. No, I am not Finnish. I am not American. Who am I? I am the culmination of all my experiences. Where am I from? I am the cross between two cultures. I enjoy playing the introduction game because the path others select in my Choose Your Own Adventure book reveals a part of their identity. What their choices inform them of I’m not sure; I only know my context no longer shapes me. My identity is defined by my actions moving forward. I make myself who I want to be. ◼


Richard Erdoes and John Fire Lame Deer, “Alone on a Hilltop,” in Native American Literature: An Anthology 1999, ed. Lawana Trout (Chicago: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc., 1999), 138. Ibid., 139.



Loving another human being is never an easy task. Yet, imagine if that love had to not only venture from one heart to another, but also remain fossilized on yellowing paper, sent careening across a vast ocean, and over thousands upon thousands of miles of amber waves of grain. Imagine if the promise of eternal union meant leaving everything and everyone you know behind. For Birgitte Evensen, a privileged young Norwegian woman, those scenarios were not imaginary, but reality. Caught between her duty to her family in Norway, and her promise of marriage to her fiancé in Iowa, Birgitte’s decision to emigrate and subsequent experiences in America as the young wife of a pioneer pastor, were greatly shaped by the gender roles and expectations of women in the late 19th century. Her experience reveals that external cultural forces, such as gender roles, influenced the emigration of Scandinavian women, and acts as a looking glass into the past for the women of today.


Ole Nilsen and Birgitte Evensen Nilsen, Letters of Longing, trans. and ed. Frida R. Nilsen (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1970), 1.

As detailed in Letters of Longing, a correspondence translated and edited by Frida R. Nilsen, Birgitte “Bibba” Evensen was born in February 1854 in Arendal, a maritime town located in southern Norway. Her parents died when she was quite young, so she was placed in the care of her older siblings, Likka, Katrine and Klaus. Being from a well-to-do family gave Birgitte the ability to receive an education, which she used to attend a governesses’ school and later become a primary schoolteacher in Arendal from 1878 to 1881. On February 3, 1881, Birgitte wrote a letter to her former schoolteacher, Ole Nilsen, who had immigrated to Iowa in 1870, to inquire about “a teacher’s position over there [in America].”* From this letter, more than 50 would follow.

T r a n s a t l a n t i c : G ender Expectations

Birgitte proved to be a very forward-thinking and independent woman for her time when she traveled to Paris, against the suggestions of both Ole Nilsen and her family, to study French, geography, and voice from October 1881 to April 1882. There, she experienced the wonders of a foreign culture that only strengthened her “urge to come out into the world to learn about other situations and to understand life under varied circumstances.”* While in Paris, Birgitte continued her correspondence with Ole Nilsen, during which he urged her to come to America, for there was “a more open field for women [there] than in any other place.”* What had first started as an inquiry into American teaching positions now had morphed into something quite different. On February 25, 1882, Ole wrote to Birgitte and asked her “to be [his] own dear wife and share [his] work, [his] sorrows and joys, and in return allow [him] to have a share in [her’s].”* Despite having not seen each other, especially in a romantic way, for over ten years, Birgitte responded affirmatively to his proposal in a telegram just days later. This decision would prove to greatly alter the rest of her life. Upon her decision to marry Ole, the reality of her impending emigration drove Birgitte home to Norway in April 1882 to prepare her family, and herself, for the long separation. Initially, both of Birgitte’s older sisters, Likka and Katrine, opposed the engagement. Both were ill with an undisclosed disease that caused weakness, dizzy spells, fainting, and to put it lightly, complete noncompliance with anyone around them. Although Birgitte had originally planned to leave in the spring of 1882, she decided to return to Norway to assure her family’s support of her decision, and pushed her departure to the middle of the summer. In a letter to Ole, she explained, “You will understand that they, who always stay quietly and peacefully at home, view a journey to America through different eyes than do you and I who are more mobile.”* While she longed to see her family, she also recognized she would have to sacrifice her and Ole’s happiness for the time being. With Ole’s promise of everlasting love, Birgitte spent the summer of 1882 trying to convince her family that her decision would not lead to permanent separation. She also prepared herself for life on the prairie, namely in the art of housekeeping. Because she had grown up in a wealthy family with servants, Birgitte never learned to cook or do certain chores that were expected of any good housewife. Despite her efforts, she continuously felt as though she made no progress. In a letter on June 23, 1882, she wrote, “My incompetence continues, but I can say that I make use of every op



Ibid., 4.

Ibid., 25.

Ole Nilsen and Birgitte Evensen Nilsen, Letters of Longing, trans. and ed. Frida R. Nilsen (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1970), 29.


Ole Nilsen and Birgitte Evensen Nilsen, Letters of Longing, trans. and ed. Frida R. Nilsen (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1970), 81.

Ibid., 5-125.

Ibid., 95.

Ibid., 125.

Nikki Link

portunity to learn.”* While learning to be a good housewife was important to Birgitte, her battle for her sisters’ consent proved to be more demanding. Whenever the topic would come up in conversation, each sister would become extremely “ill” and unable to continue the discussion.* In a letter on July 19, she finally admitted that “L.’s and K.’s way of acting [was] egotistical and unlike them.”* This realization proved to be a turning point for Birgitte, and despite Katrine’s refusal to give her consent, although Likka eventually did, Birgitte departed Norway on September 15, 1882 on the Thingvalla to New York. She stayed with Ole’s friend, Pastor Gjeldaker, in Lyle, Minnesota for a month until she and Ole were married on November 30, 1882. They settled into Ole’s home in Northwood, Iowa where he served congregations from 1874 to 1892. Birgitte became, more or less, the housewife she was “supposed” to be, although she often enlisted the help of young Norwegian immigrant girls in her home. She gave piano lessons out of the house, and when Ole was invited to serve a congregation in Scandinavia, Wisconsin in 1892, she taught for a few years at the Scandinavia Academy, a Lutheran school. Together, she and Ole had ten children, four of whom died in childhood. Despite those traumatic losses, their “homes were known for their hospitality, good cheer, contentment, fun and the Nilsen’s interest in music and literature.”* Birgitte kept her promise to her family that their separation would not be permanent when she and her family returned to Norway for a visit in 1895. Birgitte died in 1903 in Scandinavia, Wisconsin. Ole later married Anna Sunde Swenson. However, in a letter to his daughter Laila on December 1, 1932, he remembered his and Birgitte’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. Sadly, this time, she wasn’t there with a pen in hand to answer back.


Birgitte’s decision to emigrate and her subsequent experience as a Norwegian immigrant in the United States were very personal. Her relationship to Ole and her family, the difficulties of separation, and the choice between duty and desire were unique to her experience, but not as unique as one might think. These facets of her life and emigration were greatly shaped by the gender roles and expectations of women in the late 19th century, in both Norway and the United States. For the time period, Birgitte was an unusually independent and freethinking woman. She alone made the ultimate decision to leave Norway

T r a n s a t l a n t i c : G ender Expectations

for America, as well as chose to study in Paris, despite Ole’s suggestion to immediately come to America and her family’s request for her to remain at home. However, as Harris E. Kaasa of Luther College discusses in the epilogue of Letters of Longing, Birgitte was still a relatively sheltered individual, and this fact would greatly influence her decision to emigrate. The 1880s in Norway were turbulent as religious skepticism, social Darwinism, and industrialization swept through the cities and upper tiers of society. Birgitte, despite her easy access to new ideals as a member of the middle to upper classes, never discussed current events outside her family or her letters to Ole. Her existence consisted of visiting friends and family, being educated in the cushy accommodations of Paris with other upper class young women, and practicing her housekeeping skills in preparation for her departure to America. In contrast with Ole’s detailed descriptions of his struggle to pass a temperance amendment in Iowa, Birgitte appeared, though perhaps was not entirely, to be the poster child for the well-to-do 19th century woman: naïve, serving, and sheltered.* Her relatively guarded lifestyle, perpetuated by the belief that women were to be protected and nurtured from the difficulties of the outside world, led Birgitte to accept a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew. While love may have had something to do with it, Birgitte initially wrote to Ole to inquire about teaching positions in America, not marriage. While Ole did explain that there were more employment and social opportunities for women in America, he did not go into detail as to all that was available. Birgitte, therefore, knew little of what to expect in America. Her original reason for leaving Norway was to get out and explore the world, but when Ole proposed to her that reason shifted to joining the love of her life in a foreign land. What initially started as a quest for independence, turned into a transition from one sheltered lifestyle to another.* As explained by Elisabeth Lønnå in her article “Gender in Norway in the Period of Mass Emigration,” this dramatic change of heart for Birgitte was no doubt influenced by the 19th century belief that public life was a “masculine domain,” and women, especially single women, had no place on the job market in Norway or America.* Birgitte’s goals shifted away from being an American schoolteacher to being an American housewife. While marriage and housewifery were considered practical pursuits for young women in late 19th century Norway, Birgitte’s older sisters objected to the engagement mainly because it included long periods of separation from her. Thus, family relationships also shaped Birgitte’s decision to emigrate. In fact, they greatly delayed the making of the decision itself. As the youngest child with two ailing sisters,


Ole Nilsen and Birgitte Evensen Nilsen, Letters of Longing, trans. and ed. Frida R. Nilsen (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1970), 125-135.

Ibid., 1-124.

Elisabeth Lønnå, “Gender in Norway in the Period of Mass Emigration,” Norwegian-American Women, ed. Betty A. Bergland and Lori Ann Lahlum (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011), 23-50.


Ibid., 1-124.

Odd S. Lovoll, “Norwegian Immigration and Women,” NorwegianAmerican Women, ed. Betty A. Bergland and Lori Ann Lahlum (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011), 51-73.

Ibid., 81.

Odd S. Lovoll, “Norwegian Immigration and Women,” NorwegianAmerican Women, ed. Betty A. Bergland and Lori Ann Lahlum (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011), 85.

Nikki Link

it was Birgitte’s perceived duty to care for the emotional state of her family when she was at home. Her desire to leave and join Ole disrupted the fragile equilibrium of her familial relationships. She felt obligated to remain at home to make sure she had her sisters’ consent to leave, something they were quite reluctant to give. Because of the gender expectation that Birgitte provide emotional support for her family in their time of need, her desire to emigrate was seen as a radical, selfish, and an unforeseen proposition. As a result, Birgitte put off her departure for nearly six months to assure the condition of her family was suitable enough for her to leave. What her family thought was a radical decision, was actually not that uncommon.* According to Odd S. Lovoll in his article, “Norwegian Immigration and Women,” women, married and unmarried, made up about 41% of all Norwegian immigrants. That being said, the final way in which gender roles and expectations shaped Birgitte’s decision to emigrate and her experience in America was the promise and presence of a large community of Norwegian women in the U.S. A large community that could relate to her culturally, speak her language, and help her adjust to her new life as a pioneer pastor’s wife.* At the very beginning of her correspondence with Ole, Birgitte asserted her urge to go out and explore the world. However, as their relationship progressed, she sought information about housekeeping, language, and food in an attempt to ready herself for life as a Norwegian-American housewife. Over the summer of 1882, she practiced the skills she would need to prosper as a “good wife” in America, including: cooking, cleaning, sewing, and caring for young children. It was no easy task, and at one point, she described that once she had served a meal to her brother-inlaw and several of his business associates, it felt like “a burden had fallen off of [her].”* Repeatedly, she asserted her incompetence at everything domestic and hoped Ole wouldn’t be too harsh a critic. He responded to her uncertainties with his descriptions of Norwegian-American communities of women that flourished in Northwood, Iowa. According to Lori Ann Lahlum in her article, “Women, Work and Community in Rural Norwegian America, 1840-1920,” Norwegian-American women created groups, such as Ladies Aid Societies, to create a sense of community and maintain the “duties” women had to society as caring and giving spirits. Ole’s suggestion for Birgitte to join such a society eased her fears of being “too green”* upon her arrival to America. As a person very connected to her family, Birgitte desired a network of people she could communicate with and learn from. Immigrating to America meant she had to create a new support network for herself. With

T r a n s a t l a n t i c : G ender Expectations

groups like the Ladies Aid already present in Northwood, it wasn’t a difficult task. Despite being unfamiliar with domestic duties and American lifestyle, Birgitte had immediate access to a group of women who could help her find her way in a foreign land. With her uncertainties eased, Birgitte had little to fear of emigration, and could leave Norway comforted by the fact that there existed a man who loved her, a community willing to help her, and new experiences to be had in America.


In conclusion, Birgitte Evensen, although a freethinking and independent woman whose mindset was quite modern for the late 19th century in both Norway and America, ultimately let the gender roles and expectations of the day shape her decision to emigrate and her subsequent experiences in the U.S. While she made the final decision to emigrate on her own, Birgitte did not come to the U.S. to be a teacher as she originally intended, but instead a pioneer pastor’s wife. Her choice was radical in the sense that her family didn’t support it, but she accepted her “calling” to a traditional female role, just in a foreign country. In addition, despite the rising secularism apparent in Norway, Birgitte adopted a very religious lifestyle. This decision, in fact, made her quite “American.” While the U.S. did offer more employment and social opportunities for women than Norway in the 1880s, American culture still encouraged women to seek their place in the domestic sphere. Birgitte accepted this very American ideal unknowingly, all while thinking that she would be too “green” because of her inability to speak English and cook American food. Before she even departed Norway, her correspondence with Ole revealed that she was already beginning the assimilation process, just based on her reactions to Ole’s explanations of American culture and society, especially in reference to the role of women. This phenomenon was probably not unique to her experience. Birgitte’s story is a great example of the power of gender roles in the emigration of Scandinavian women and to the modern woman, and offers a window into how considerably female expectations have evolved over time. It is astonishing, as a modern woman, to see how many more opportunities have arisen. Who knows how far we would have progressed without the first few steps taken in new directions by women like Birgitte. ◼



Gwyn Jones, Eric the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 2008), 3-38.

James Kalb, “The Icelandic sagas and social order.” Modern Age, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Winter (1998): 100.

Gwyn Jones, Eric the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 2008), 3-38.

At first glance Hen-Thorir’s Saga* appears to be a simple family saga presenting to the reader a blood feud along with the moral code of the Icelandic society, but in truth it pertains to much deeper societal matters. After peeling back the false front of the saga, it can be seen that the saga discusses the conflict between natural law and positive law, and also how this conflict affected the nation. The question then becomes how is this done, and why? When reading Icelandic literature, many of the stories take on a similar shape and this is partly due to the ideologies of the people. The characteristics that the Icelanders found imperative and noble can be summed up as courage, loyalty, generosity, physical prowess, and the jealous defense of rights and honor.* All of these are illustrated in Hen-Thorir’s Saga. Courage is portrayed through Herstein’s quest for justice in spite of the odds when he starts out. Loyalty is observed in not only Orn who defends the honor of his host Blund-Ketil after he had been declared a thief, but also in Arngrim who, all because of a pledge of allegiance he made years earlier, stays with Hen-Thorir even when he believes Hen-Thorir is not doing what is right. Generosity is personified by Blund-Ketil; whether a stranger needs a place to stay, his tenants don’t ration their supplies for the winter properly, or in bartering, he is helpful and extremely generous. Lastly, the defense of one’s rights and honor is depicted by almost all parties in one way or another; Orn defending the honor of his host, HenThorir defending his honor after his rights had been violated, Herstein defending the honor of his father, and Tung-Odd defending the honor of his family by defending the decisions his son Thorvald made.* Every quality that the Icelandic people held most dear can be witnessed in this saga. Yet, although they are presented to the reader straightforward and play a specific role in the story itself, they are not the entirety of what the saga is trying to convey but instead only a single piece of the puzzle. If the reader goes one level deeper in the saga, the reader quickly discovers that the text also contains a conflict between laws. Natural law and positive law are two of the four main philosophies of law, the other two

T h e W a r o f L a w s : Hen-Thorir’s Saga

being customary law and pragmatic jurisprudence.* Natural law is rooted in the morals and life style of a given culture.* Positive law on the other hand is man made law, statutes that have been developed over time.* In most cultures it can be observed that these two walk hand in hand, positive law being the written and executable law with natural law shaping and giving the positive law context. A good example of this would be the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects freedom of speech allowing for opinions to be expressed freely. However, they can also be found to oppose each other such as in cases where positive law has been manipulated and therefore conflicts with natural law. For instance although the third amendment has been was created with the right idea in mind, some groups have used it to defend themselves from prosecution when spreading hateful messages. Hen-Thorir’s Saga displays the latter of the two quite well, instances where positive law had been corrupted to benefit a specific person. There were also instances in the saga illustrating how sometimes natural law became subjectively defined by individual people instead of the culture as a whole. However, best depicted by the saga was how in grey areas of positive law, literal positive law was followed instead of the supplementing natural law. The saga is fantastic at illuminating the issues that are able to arise when positive law incorrectly or falls short of solving a legal matter. The beginning of the saga outlines a confrontation between TungOdd, the head chieftain and law speaker of the district, and Orn, a popular Norwegian ship captain and merchant. Orn lands in Borgarfjord, part of Tung-Odd’s district, and plans to stay there for the winter while trading his goods. Tung-Odd, being who he is, takes it upon himself to set the prices of all the goods for any merchants in his district. Orn wants to set his own prices and refuses to submit to Tung-Odd. Tung-Odd, aggravated, goes against the natural law of generosity by denying hospitality to this guest in his district and asserts his own version of positive law by forbidding Orn to trade his goods and forbidding any man to aid him over his winter respite from the sea.* This is interesting in the sense that although Tung-Odd was the chieftain of the district, this did not bestow him the power to set market prices. It is not expressed in the text whether TungOdd does this for his own benefit or the people of this district, but being how Tung-Odd is portrayed it seems more likely that he is twisting law to his benefit. After the conflict between Tung-Odd and Orn has been explained, the reader is then presented with the next conflict of the saga. BlundKetil is one of the landowners in the area and some of his tenants failed


William Pencak, The Conflict of Law and Justice in the Icelandic Sagas, (Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V., 1995), 5. Paulo Ferreira da Cunha, Rethinking Natural Law, (London: Springer, 2013), 9.

William Pencak, The Conflict of Law and Justice in the Icelandic Sagas, (Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V., 1995), 6.

Gwyn Jones, Eric the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 2008), 3-38.


Gwyn Jones, Eric the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 2008), 3-38. Oona Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro, “Outcasting: Enforcement in Domestic and International Law,” Yale Law Journal, 121.2 (2011): 285. Andrie Marmor, Positive Law and Objective Values, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 2000), 6.

Thomas Malcolm

to properly ration their food stores for their livestock during the winter. Blund-Ketil has heard that Hen-Thorir possesses excess hay and therefore travels to Hen-Thorir’s estate looking to purchase the excess. Although Hen-Thorir knows that he has extra that will go to waste if it remains on his estate, he decides to go against the idea of generosity and refuses to sell Blund-Ketil anything at all. Blund-Ketil, being loyal to his tenants, takes the excess hay from Hen-Thorir, but is honorable and leaves money for what he took. Hen-Thorir feels his honor has been tarnished and rights disrespected. Thusly, he decides to defend his image by persecuting Blund-Ketil. Hen-Thorir goes out looking for someone to take up his case, but everyone rejects him. Eventually he runs into Thorvald, son of Tung-Odd, who decides to take up his case and together they head to Blund-Ketil’s estate to settle the matter. Thorvald discusses the situation with Blund-Ketil and Blund-Ketil expresses thoroughly that he is more than willing to pay an excessively generous compensation. Hen-Thorir declares that no compensation will be enough; he wants to make Blund-Ketil suffer. This leaves Thorvald rather confused, both natural law and positive law are illustrated as such that if someone has been wronged, the accused, if guilty, is to pay compensation in some form. This is a grey area though; Blund-Ketil is more than willing to abide by this but Hen-Thorir refuses to accept it. If natural law were to prevail in this murky area of law, the matter probably would have been dropped, but that is not the case. By strictly following positive law, Thorvald has no other option but to declare Blund-Ketil a thief and this only escalates the situation. Orn, who has been taken in by Blund-Ketil for the winter, feels that his host has been defamed and in anger fires an arrow in the general direction of Hen-Thorir’s men. The arrow strikes and kills Hen-Thorir’s foster son Helgi. Hen-Thorir is not truly saddened by this event but uses it as excuse to push the situation further. Hen-Thorir has Thorvald and his men burn the estate to the ground that night. Blund-Ketil’s son Herstein finds out about his father’s death in the morning and a blood feud ensues over the rest of the saga.* It only is settled at the end with help from the highest order of governance that only met once a year, the Althing.* There are a handful of interesting phenomena that appear in this sequence of events. Take for instance when Thorvald was attempting to settle matters between Blund-Ketil and Hen-Thorir. Thorvald was faced with an atypical situation; someone had refused to accept compensation. In most societies when a matter seems impossible to settle, the social norm, natural law, is typically instituted.* In this instance though, this was not the case. A general positive law was applied for a predicament

T h e W a r o f L a w s : Hen-Thorir’s Saga

where it wasn’t well defined. The positive law observed in the text made it such that the offender had to pay the compensation but seemingly failed to stipulate that the victim must accept. In this grey area, Thorvald took the positive law literally, which in turn caused Blund-Ketil to be deemed a thief. Now whether or not this was actually the positive law at the time is not important, what matters is what the writer is trying to express through the positive law that is illustrated in the saga. What the writer expresses is, that at some point in Icelandic history, what happened in the case of a situation not well defined with positive law was longer decided by natural law but instead positive law, which was inflexible for differing situations. How willingly Hen-Thorir uses the grey areas of positive law for his selfish desires is a very interesting aspect in the story. In the beginning he goes against the social norm of generosity and although doing so is frowned upon, he has every right to do so. Later while prosecuting Blund-Ketil, he takes advantage of the grey area in positive law so that no matter what Blund-Ketil will be deemed guilty in the matter. Defaming Blund-Ketil is not enough to satisfy his anger though – he wants to destroy him. His opportunity arrives when Orn looses an arrow into the sky and which, on its way back down, buries itself in the body of Hen-Thorir’s foster son. As already discussed, this is the excuse for which Hen-Thorir was looking. The author portrays Hen-Thorir such that it is impossible to like him. Hen-Thorir is written to symbolize the different ways people were able to manipulate positive law for their own betterment instead of the community’s. Truly intriguing is that the conflict was never taken to any of the district Things or the district Quarter Courts in Iceland. Iceland, when it was established, was divided into four districts. Each district had three small Things and one Quarter Court.* These institutions were put into place to settle matters in their districts and only if the disputes could not be settled would they go on to the nation’s Althing. In the saga this is never mentioned while the feud is rages. In the saga Herstein is traveling to gain allies to assist him at the coming Althing. The Althing continually draws nearer and Hen-Thorir knows that with the coming of the Althing will be the coming of his demise. Convinced the Althing will be the end of him, Hen-Thorir plots to ambush Herstein while he travels to the Althing. Herstein spots Hen-Thorir’s ambush causing the ambush to fail and HenThorir to perish. Once Herstein eventually reaches the Althing, the matter of the feud is set straight. The incorrupt positive law of the Althing manages to diffuse the situation. In the end, Thorvald is forced to go abroad for a period three years and everyone else who was present with Hen-Thorir


William Pencak, The Conflict of Law and Justice in the Icelandic Sagas, (Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V., 1995), 1.


Rory McTurk, “The world of the Icelandic saga,” Times Literary Supplement, (15 Mar. 1991): 21.

William Ian Miller, “Of Outlaws, Christians, Horsemeat, and Writing: Uniform Laws and Saga Iceland,” Michigan Law Review, The Michigan Law Review Association, (August 1991): 2082. Rory McTurk, “The world of the Icelandic saga,” Times Literary Supplement, (15 Mar., 1991): 21.

Thomas Malcolm

and Thorvald at the burning of Blund-Ketil are declared to be outlaws. There is some resentment towards Herstein and his allies from Tung-Odd due to the outcome, but this is negligible. Although the outcome isn’t perfect, the action chosen had been deemed the best available. Thus ends Hen-Thorir’s saga. Nowhere during any point in the story does the author mention the district Things or Quarter Courts. This is not because they are not important to tell the story, but they are not important in expressing the author’s message. The Althing is important because it symbolizes the imperfect solution to a terrible situation. It is interesting to observe the relationship of natural law and positive law as the author depicts them in the saga as well as it is interesting to observe how the dispute is in the end resolved. It is perhaps more interesting to understand why the saga as a whole is depicted as it is. To do so though, the reader must understand the context in which the sagas were written. The Saga Age was during the years from 930 C.E. – 1030 C.E., which means that Hen-Thorir’s Saga originated roughly two hundred years before it became a written piece of literature.* Whether it is fact or fiction is irrelevant; the writing of the saga still took place sometime during the 13th century. Societies change over time and Iceland is no exception especially during the two hundred years between when the saga supposedly occurred and when it was written. Not only had the Icelandic society shifted from a polytheistic society to a Christian society,* but saga writing also took place when Norway began asserting its rule over Iceland.* Iceland was founded as a republic and its positive law was based on natural law. Over time positive law had to change in order to keep the order to resolve conflict in the grey areas where natural law slowly disappeared. As time went on, positive law changed not for societal betterment but instead personal benefit. Positive law became a means of getting what one wanted and not a means of justice. Iceland’s legal system had been deteriorating due to corruption and Norway had to step in to stop Iceland from collapsing in on itself because of its never-ending feuds. This is why the author records the event how he did and why the story is told how it is. The saga is not simply about an event that possibly occurred, it is about the history of Iceland. It characterizes the morals the Icelandic people deemed desirable with each character possessing one or more of the traits. Hen-Thorir’s saga presents one of the major factors pertaining to its inner turmoil by depicting the conflict between natural law and positive law. It also reveals to the reader the imperfect solution to the problem and the highest legal power, the Althing, which alludes to the authoritative power of Norway. It is not overly surprising that Hen-Thorir’s Saga had an

T h e W a r o f L a w s : Hen-Thorir’s Saga

underlying message pertaining to Icelandic society. This message can actually be found as a motif in many Icelandic sagas. This is because a major part of saga writing took place during the time Norway had finally begun asserting its rule over Iceland and when a society is being forced into submission, it is natural for it to want to preserve its culture.* In sagas the reader observes strong portrayals of the characteristics that this society valued and this is due to its desire to hold fast to its culture. The sagas were the embodiment of Icelandic society and their history, and that is exactly what is presented in Hen-Thorir’s Saga. In conclusion, Hen-Thorir’s Saga is a recording of the Icelandic society. The saga not simply depicts the morals of generosity, courage, loyalty, the defense of one’s rights and honor, all of which the Icelanders held most dear, but also the legal system and the struggles the country faced because of it. Through Blund-Ketil the reader sees natural law, through Thorvald the reader is presented with the disregard for natural law and replacement of positive law, through Tung-Ood the reader witnesses the corruption of positive law, and the Althing is an allusion to Norway taking control and reforming the laws as the last resort to resolve conflict. The saga is not a simple story about life in Iceland, it is a recording of its history. It depicts not only the characteristics important to the people, but also describes how the corruption of their originally utopian legal system forced the country to crumble, only to be saved by its protector, Norway. ◼


Rory McTurk, “The world of the Icelandic saga,” Times Literary Supplement, (15 Mar., 1991).


Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2007), 330.

Pyhälahti Minna. “Sun, sun you showed your horns.” trans. anonymous Wikipedia user, The Institute for Modern Languages, Nov. 2010, 1 Dec. 2012, <http://www.kotus. fi/index.phtml?7934_ a=comment&7934_ m=8067&s=3916>.

The first thing many people studying a foreign language for the first time want to learn is how to swear. To them, learning how to say “fuck you, asshole!” is much more important than being able to introduce themselves or have a basic conversation. The good thing for people that love to swear and curse is that these phenomena are universal. All cultures and languages have plentiful means for people to spew obscenities. Where differences occur are in the types of words which are seen as most offensive and the ways in which they are used. For example, it may be strange for an American English speaker, who is much more likely to be offended by sex than by religion, to understand why words such as “tabernac” (tabernacle) and “sacramant” (sacrament) are considered so offensive by French speakers in Quebec.* These differences can not only offer people diverse ways to piss other people off, but also to better understand both the cultures in question, i.e. American sexual attitudes and the Catholic history and culture of French-speaking Canadians. We can conclude, then, that the diverse and fascinating ways speakers of different languages swear can offer us insights into the culture and history of those who speak that language. This is true for the Finnish culture and language, whose curses will be the focus of this paper. These swear words can offer important insights into two important aspects of Finnish culture: the Finns’ pre-Christian tradition and their ongoing relationship with their natural world. One of the best-known and most important Finnish swear words is perkele. When the Finnish Institute for Domestic Languages conducted a survey on what Finns felt was the most energizing word in the Finnish language, perkele was a suggestion because it “gave the most strength for the reconstruction of Finland after the wars.”* The word aurinko (sun) was eventually selected over perkele, but its consideration still suggests its cultural importance. In fact, perkele is one of the best words we can look to in order to help us better understand Finland’s pre-Christian roots and eventual conversion to Christianity. In modern Finnish, perkele is an expletive similar to goddammit or fuck it! in English. It can be used as an adjective in the genitive form

H o w F i n n s S w e a r and What This Tells Us

as perkeleen, which is similar to goddamn (as an adjective) or fucking in English. The literal meaning of perkele in modern Finnish is “Satan,” but this word has a colorful history leading up to its current use. Perkele originally entered the Finnish language as a loanword from the Baltic languages and was a name for the Finnish thunder god. Words for similar gods exist in many of the Balto-Slavic languages, for example perkúnas in Lithuanian and perkuons in Latvian. When the conversion of Finland to Christianity began in the 11th century, there was an attempt to demonize the native religion.* Part of this process included letting the evil heathens know they were damned to Hell by co-opting perkele as a synonym for Satan. Another interesting phrase in Finnish is Painu helvetin kuuseen, which translates to “Go to Hell’s spruce tree.”* It is probably not the “go to Hell” part of this phrase that surprises us—which is often our default phrase when we have the self control not to say “fuck you, asshole!”—but the “spruce tree” part probably sounds a bit odd. The fact that Finns swear about “Hell’s spruce tree” does not mean that they are using mind altering substances which cause them to see demons appear in the forests (although maybe they are), but rather reflects how widespread trees are in Finland and how important they are for Finns. Finland is the most heavily forested nation in Europe, with 75% of the total area covered with trees, and 24% of all of these trees are spruce. Finland’s extensive forests are important both for the large Finnish forestry industry and for recreation, with 75% of Finns saying they visit forests during their free time.* As for the amazing insult discussed above, it is clear that Finns are imagining Hell in terms of the world they already know and understand. This is an example of religious cursing intersecting with a very specific element of Finnish culture. Another highly offensive and very creative Finnish phrase is Suksi vittuun, which in English is “ski into a cunt.” Some people reading this may be trying to visualize how skiing into a cunt would actually work, while others may be wondering why the Finns use this outrageous phrase in the first place. Given the climate and geography of Finland, cross-country skiing has long been an important part of Finnish culture, with 38% of Finns saying they partake in the activity, even if only on an occasional basis. In the days before motorized transportation, skis were often used as a method of transportation.* As we can see, “ski into a cunt” is a phrase that is uniquely Finnish. The third and final expression is a bit archaic, but is so colorful and unique that it rivals “ski into a cunt.” That phrase is vittujen kevät ja kyrpien takatalvi, which in English is “the spring of cunts and the late winter of


Unto Salo, “Ukko, the Finnish God of Thunder: Separating Pagan Roots from Christian Accretions-Party One,” Mankind Quarterly, (2005): 174. Helena Halmari, “Finnish Maledicta and Euphemisms,” Maledicta: the International Journal of Verbal Aggression, 13, (2005): 71.

Finnish Forest Association.

Eija Pouta, Marjo Neuvonen, and Tuija Sievänen, “Participation in Cross-country skiing in Finland under Climate Change: Application of Multiple Hierarchy Stratification Perspective,” Journal of Leisure Research, 41 (2009): 91-92.


Jari Tammi, The Big Book of Swear Words, (WSOY, 1993), 211, 360.

Emily Malone

dicks.” This list of seasonal genitalia is really an expression of frustration and could be figuratively translated as “oh fuck!” in English. The second season mentioned, which is associated with dicks, is takatalvi, which describes a situation in Finland during springtime when winter weather makes a comeback. The reason that spring is associated with female genitalia is that during spring, women in Finland would begin to wear shorter dresses, making it easier for men to see that part of their body (and maybe take a ski trip there?).* The fact that the male genitalia is associated with the return of winter, and women once again wearing less revealing clothing, could be interpreted as an expression of sexual frustration. It is a statement of sexual, as well as general, frustration that also is a strong reflection of Finnish seasons and climate. As previously described, Finnish is a language with many creatively offensive ways of swearing and blaspheming. These swear words are not only interesting for how odd they can be, but also for how well they reflect different aspects of Finnish culture. This is a fact that can be extended to the languages and cultures of the world; swear words are not only interesting because everyone wants to learn to say “fuck” in 237 languages, but because swear words can teach us so much about the different cultures around the world. ◼

H o w F i n n s S w e a r and What This Tells Us



Muriel Press, Laxdaela Saga (Cambridge: In Parenthesis Publications, Old Norse Series, 1999), 113.

Muriel Press, Laxdaela Saga (Cambridge: In Parenthesis

The rise of feminism and the concept of women’s rights are thought to be very recent and many believe that women in the past had no power. However, women in medieval Iceland, though not equal to men, enjoyed a surprising amount of freedom. Not everything is known about social dynamics of the time, but analyzing the Sagas of the Icelanders can reveal the women’s various freedoms and influences. Women could often choose their husbands and had free choice in their relationships; they could run their own farms, have political or social influence either directly or indirectly, and could even in certain cases be heroines, ‘warrior queens’ or ‘shieldmaidens.’ Women could exert their influence by manipulating men using goading, sex, or money, or take charge themselves, either politically or violently. Though women were often restricted from exerting their power directly, they could be quite effective at acting through men. Throughout the sagas, women are seen as instigators of violence, encouraging men to get revenge. Gudrun is a classic example of a revengeful Icelandic woman. In Laxdaela Saga, she tells her brothers to get revenge on Kjartan for the slights he shows her for marrying Bolli: “I think it is past hoping that you will ever have courage enough to go and seek out Kjartan in his home, if you dare not meet him now that he rides with but one other man or two; but here you sit at home and bear yourselves as if you were hopeful men; yea, in sooth there are too many of you”.* Bolli initially refuses to take part in this because of his brotherhood with Kjartan, but Gudrun threatens him with divorce and he quickly complies. Another woman who taunts her way to revenge in Laxdaela Saga is Thorgerd, who incites her sons to get revenge on Bolli for killing Thorgerd’s husband Olaf: “They plan revenge: Now Halldor told Bardi in secret that the brothers had made up their minds to set on Bolli, for they could no longer withstand the taunts of their mother”.* She goaded them into it by telling them that their ancestors would be ashamed of them, and Egil (their grandfather) would certainly have taken revenge and killed Kjartan.

P o w e r f u l W o m e n i n the Sagas

Not long after her previous quarrel, Gudrun wants revenge for a second time, this time against Olaf’s sons for killing her husband Bolli. First she shames her young sons into it by showing them the bloody clothes Bolli was killed in: “These same clothes you see here cry to you for your father’s revenge”.* When she decides they are too young to fight without a leader, she looks to Thorgils to take care of it. She uses a promise of marriage to get Thorgils to help her out, though she does not plan on marrying him. Her adviser and confidante Snorri suggests: “You shall promise marriage to him, yet you shall do it in language of this double meaning, that of men in this land you will marry none other but Thorgils, and that shall be holden to, for Thorkell Eyjolfson is not, for the time being, in this land, but it is he whom I have in my mind’s eye for this marriage”.* In this way she exercises her power through men in two ways: she convinces Thorgils to exact her revenge for her, and she does it deceitfully, promising compensation which she does not intend to deliver. The men in the sagas are generally depicted as wanting to settle matters peacefully or with monetary compensation, but they listen to the women in their lives and kill those who do them wrong. Egil’s saga provides another example: Gunnhilda, ‘mother of kings,’ wants vengeance against Egil for having killed Bard, a member of her household. Gunnhilda then commands a killing from her two young brothers, Eyvind and Alf: “I would fain that you two should so manage matters in this crowded gathering, that ye get to slay one of the two sons of Skallagrim, or, better still, both”.* They did not succeed in killing either Egil or Thorolf, but Eyvind slew one of their men and was outlawed. Later, Eyvind lay in wait to ambush Egil, who knew of it in advance and killed him. The two brothers were young and would never have gone after the powerful, esteemed Egil if not ordered to by Gunnhilda. Though she could not get revenge herself, she got it through her brothers and at great personal cost to them; again, the deal was not in the men’s favor, and yet Gunnhilda succeeds in getting exactly what she wants. Occasionally, women in the sagas demonstrate an impressive capacity for revengeful bloodlust even against those they love. After the shieldmaiden Brynhild learns that she was tricked into marrying Gunnar and it was actually Sigurd who had ridden through the flames around her castle in order to court her, she is enraged and plots revenge, urging her husband Gunnar to kill the deceitful Sigurd although she loves him.* She motivates Gunnar by telling him that Sigurd had slept with her after braving the fires around the castle, which he had sworn not to do. He had even laid his sword between them in bed to protect her virginity. Brynhild repays her


Ibid., 136.


W. C. Green, “Egil’s Saga”, Icelandic Saga Database, ed. Sveinbjorn Thordarson, Ch. 49.

Jesse L. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs. University of California Press, 1990, Ch. 29.


Jenny Jochens, Women in Old Norse Society (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995), 76.

Ibid., 77.

Ibid., 58.

Ibid., 71.


Jenny Jochens, Old Norse Images of Women (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), 180.

Jenna Mennen

lover’s deceit with more deceit and death rather than suffer being tricked by the two men. Gunnar in turn performs this killing indirectly. He had sworn a pact of brotherhood with Sigurd, so he convinces his younger brother to do the deed instead. Though Gunnar does not act directly either, the vengeful Brynhild is clearly the source of the violence. Women also exert their power indirectly through breaking cultural taboos on sexuality and nakedness. In the legend of Thorgunna, an old Scandinavian folktale, Thorgunna uses her sexuality to get what she wants from men. When the men transporting her dead body are refused hospitality, she appears as a naked ghost in the kitchen and begins cooking.* This frightens the hosts into feeding her men. Nakedness was taboo, and Thorgunna used this to her advantage to manipulate men into getting what she needed. A similar horrified reaction to nakedness can be seen with Freydis in Erik the Red’s Saga who scares away attacking Indians by baring her breasts. When chasing after the invaders with a sword doesn’t work, she pulls out a breast and they flee in terror.* Women could also obtain what they wanted through sexual favors or money. “Conscious of her marital assets, a woman could issue sexual or financial ultimatums such as ‘you shall never come in my bed again’ or ‘I shall let my father repossess my property’”, often delivered in bed.* Hallgerdr persuades her husband to let her foster father stay with them by putting her arms around his neck, an affectionate gesture that women often used to obtain favors.* Asgerdr takes this even further, using it to obtain forgiveness for having an affair. This initially does not work as Thorkell will not let her under the covers, but she has other incentives: she threatens him with immediate divorce, which would deprive Thorkell of her inherited money as well as her body. She has financial power on her side and her threat gets her back in Thorkell’s bed, where she is quickly forgiven.* Women’s financial independence as well as their physical assets contributed to their power in medieval Iceland. The Vikings were fairly sexually liberated for their era. They did not marry for passion (marriages were usually arranged around convenience and politics), but grew to love their spouses. Still, passionate relationships and affairs naturally happened, and women are often portrayed as equal participants and instigators to men in these affairs. Gunnhilda is an obvious example of this. Her ‘sexual appetite’ is notorious and is depicted in many of the sagas. Jochens describes her as known for her “power and cruelty, admired for her beauty and generosity, and feared for her magic, cunning, sexual insatiability, and her goading”.* She instigates an affair with an Icelander named Hrutr, though he has a woman back home. She

P o w e r f u l W o m e n i n the Sagas

is far older than he is, but bribes him with clothes and locks him in a bedchamber with her. After a year of this forced affair, Hrutr wants to return to return to Iceland. She places a curse on him so that he will never be able to enjoy a union with his future wife Unnr.* Gunnhilda instigates the affair and jealously tries to keep Hrutr for herself. Her control over the affair is impressive for the era and shows a good deal of sexual liberty for women. We also see an instance of mutual romance with Thormodr and Thorbjorg, who meet and fall for each other instantly. Jochens describes its suddenness. “When his wife makes a snide remark, he divorces her and marries the young woman on the spot”.* In this instance, they do not have to prove anything to one another to try to woo each other. Brynhild and Sigurd fall in love similarly, and Sigurd clearly wishes to abide by Brynhild’s wishes and respect her. He praises her saying, “this woman seemed to me the best in the world”.* When he is warned that “there has yet to be a man that she allows to sit by her or to whom she gives ale to drink. She wants to go warring and win all kinds of fame.” Sigurd replies: “I do not know whether she will answer me or not or whether she will let me sit by her.”* He respects her position as a shield-maiden and gives her the choice whether to respond to his courting or not. The fact that she was a warrior and could decline his courting is far more liberal than the modern world expects the stereotypical Vikings to be. Men in the sagas had to please their women, which would not have been necessary in many other cultures at the time. Women were somewhat scarce in Iceland, so at feasts they were assigned by lot to share a drinking horn with a man. The young girl who was assigned to Egil’s drinking horn was displeased by his youth and inexperience until he seduced her by “picking her up and placing her next to himself,” a traditional way of saying that he initiated physical contact.* We can also see that it is important for not only the man but also the woman to enjoy a kiss. Upon smashing a man’s jaw, one Icelander remarked that his lover would find him less pleasant to kiss.* This comment shows that they kept women’s pleasure in mind as well as their own. In addition to being physically pleasing, men also sometimes had to meet demands in order to marry or sleep with a woman. Aslaug the warrior queen, Brynhild’s daughter, refuses to marry Ragnar until he completes his raids in Norway. She also refuses to sleep with him until after marriage. This firm resolve lead to Ragnar finishing his raids in Norway, marrying Aslaug, and eventually becoming king of Denmark.* Women did not always sit around as decoration for their powerful husbands. They could have roles of their own: farming, running


Jenny Jochens, Women in Old Norse Society (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995), 73.

Ibid., 68.

Jesse L. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs (University of California Press, 1990), 74. Ibid.

Jenny Jochens, Women in Old Norse Society (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995), 69.

Ibid., 70.

Rory McTurk, Studies In Ragnars Saga Lodbrʹokar and Its Major Scandinavian Analogues (Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1991), 78.


Susan Clark, “’Cold are the Counsels of Women’: The Revengeful Woman in Icelandic Family Sagas,” in Women as Protagonists and Poets in the German Middle Ages: An Anthology of Feminist Approaches to Middle High German Literature, ed. Albrecht Classen (Güppingen: Kümmerle Verlag, 1991), 283. Ibid., 286-7.

Muriel Press, Laxdaela Saga (Cambridge: In Parenthesis Publications, Old Norse Series, 1999), 69.

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households or owning land, and taking part in political struggles. Susan Clark, a researcher in Scandinavian studies, writes that it is clear both from the sagas and from more historical sources such as Sturlunga Saga and law codes that women could own farms and land.* It was standard for independent women (particularly wealthy widows) to throw parties and act as hosts just as other successful farmers were expected to do. These independent women more rarely got involved in the politics that come with owning land, but there are examples of politically active women. Steinvör Sighvatsdottir took part in the struggle to maintain her family’s power in Iceland, acting as a negotiator. Normally it would be her husband’s job to handle legal and financial business (even though women were often financially independent), but he decided not to and so she handled the settlement herself, and then claimed the property and chieftaincy, considering herself the head of her household.* The fact that a woman could do all this despite having a husband and despite the law saying that her husband should be responsible for these affairs shows a considerable flexibility. Not every law and social restriction was enforced, thus leaving women with more freedom if they had the ambition to take it. Sometimes women took charge with violence instead of law, such as the shieldmaiden Brynhild. Though at first she used her husband and her brother-in-law to exact revenge, after Sigurd’s death at the end of the Völsunga Saga, she kills his young son herself and then throws herself on Sigurd’s funeral pyre. Traditionally in the sagas, a woman would not take this kind of direct and violent action herself, but Brynhild is the exception, proving that women with the ambition and courage can be as deadly as any Icelander. Gudrun gets her own revenge through plotting in her first marriage when she is only 15. Her husband, whom she does not love, scolds her for her demands for expensive jewels and gives her a blow to the ear. To get revenge, she seeks advice from Thord, who tells her to “make him a shirt with such a large neck-hole that [she] may have a good excuse for separating from him, because he has a low neck like a woman”.* In this instance she does not work through men and does not use violence, but divorces her unwanted husband by tricking him into dressing like a woman. Despite the fact that men were the heroes of most of the sagas, women were sometimes heroines too. Rory McTurk, emeritus professor of Icelandic studies, studies Ragnars Saga with this in mind. He looks at Aslaug through a literary lens to see if she follows the same patterns that other heroes do, particularly initiation rites and how she becomes a heroine. He follows a pattern established by the Dutch scholar Jan de Vries

P o w e r f u l W o m e n i n the Sagas

called the “heroic biographical pattern” which is “closely connected with initiation rituals, and with creation myths in which organized life was represented as arising out of chaos, the latter being often symbolized by monsters.”* The pattern has ten steps from birth to death and is remarkably detailed: Aslaug fits into some of the minute details such as being born of a virgin (she is the daughter of Brynhild and Sigurd, though the two were never married and never had sex). Her youth is threatened and she grows up hiding her noble birth by rubbing tar on her beautiful skin and going by Kråka (crow), working hard for foster parents who killed Heimir, her last living connection to her parents. She proves her cleverness by answering a riddle asked by her future husband Ragnar where he asks her to visit him “neither clad nor unclad, neither fed nor unfed, neither alone nor accompanied by man” and she arrives wearing a net, biting an onion, and with a dog by her side. This fits another common literary pattern that McTurk uses: ‘the clever peasant girl.’* She also shows her cleverness and perceptiveness many times with her gift of prophecy. As Sigurd courts her and tells her he will marry none other than her, she says he “will marry Gudrun, the daughter of Gjuki.”* Sigurd naturally denies that this will happen, but her prediction comes true. Step nine in these initiation rites is the return from banishment and conquering of enemies, which happens when Aslaug leaves her evil foster parents, curses them with misery, and proves her true identity as the daughter of Sigurd the serpent-slayer by giving birth to a son with a snakemark around his eye. McTurk’s analysis shows that neither Ragnar nor Aslaug fit every part of the detailed heroic biographical pattern perfectly, but in some respects she fulfills more criteria of heroism than he does, and is, in the end, “the actual character who finally has our sympathies”.* McTurk concludes from these analyses that Aslaug is a genuine heroine, at least as important in Ragnars Saga as Ragnar himself. Another requirement for heroes in Icelandic sagas is for them to be skilled with runes. In The Saga of the Volsungs, Brynhild shows her mastery of the runes when she first meets Sigurd who asks for her to “teach [him] the ways of mighty things.” She replies with a poem and a filled goblet, transferring to him runes of healing, of pleasing speech, victory runes, wave runes (mastery of the sea), speech runes, ale runes, aid runes, branch runes, and mind runes in a poetic recitation.* Not only does this demonstrate her power with runes, but it also shows foresight once again when she instructs him on how to use ale runes to check for poison or potions in a cup. Later, of course, he drinks a potion which makes him forget


Rory McTurk, Studies In Ragnars Saga Lodbrʹokar and Its Major Scandinavian Analogues (Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1991), 51.

Jesse L. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs (University of California Press, 1990), 75.

Axel Olrik, “Epic laws of folk narrative,” in The Study of Folklore, ed. Alan Dundes (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1965), 129-41.

Jesse L. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs (University of California Press, 1990), 68-9.


Jenna Mennen

Brynhild and marry Gudrun. Brynhild once again fits into the mold of a hero by being well-versed in runes and being wise. Throughout the sagas, we can see that although women are not considered equal to men, medieval Icelandic society was at least flexible enough to allow for some intimidating and powerful heroines who got their way through manipulating men, using their sexuality, and acting of their own free will. From a feminist perspective, the Vikings were far ahead of their time, as women in the sagas are portrayed as actors and not objects. This is important because the portrayal of women in fiction is part of an ongoing debate in our own culture, and modern books and movies could be improved by a few strong, vengeful Brynhilds, Gudruns, and Aslaugs. â&#x2014;ź

P o w e r f u l W o m e n i n the Sagas



A handful of miles north of the Arctic Circle, nestled in the heart of Sweden’s northernmost province of Lappland, lies the small village of Jokkmokk. Normally a quiet and isolated community, every first weekend of February the population explodes as thousands descend upon the village for the annual Jokkmokk Market—a tradition dating back more than 400 years. The Jokkmokk Market is a beacon of traditional Sami culture, filled with music, trade, and various hands on activities that celebrate the rich history and heritage of the Sami people. The Sami are the indigenous people of Sápmi, a region that spans across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Although most famous for their mastery of reindeer husbandry as a means of livelihood, the Sami people have a complex history and rich collection of customs as the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. While many Sami have integrated into the mainstream societies of their countries of residence, the Jokkmokk Market provides a valuable opportunity to view a preserved and vibrant picture of their fascinating and unique past. As a student currently attending Umeå University in Sweden, I was lucky enough to be afforded a rare chance to witness this extraordinary cultural festival firsthand. My university organized a day trip for the many international students who were just as excited as I was for this once in a lifetime experience. Our journey began when approximately one hundred of us left Umeå on several buses at four in the morning, poised to arrive at Jokkmokk just in time for breakfast at nine. The bus ride was smooth, black, and seemingly very fast. Like any successful student, I have long mastered sleeping while seated upright and spent most of the traveling time peacefully unconscious. The buses decided upon a short scenic break as we crossed the Arctic Circle, a latitude famous for documenting the southernmost threshold of the northern hemisphere which experiences polar days and polar nights— time spans of twenty-four hours of daylight and darkness, respectively. The threshold was designated by several large signs and a conventional tourist rest stop. Many students, myself included, jumped at the chance

A Day in JokkMokk

to get their picture taken next to a sign to document the ruggedness and otherworldliness of their journey. People prepared for their photographs by stripping off clothes in defiance of God or nature, a feat less impressive in light of the mild -4° Celsius temperature (~25° Fahrenheit). As we returned to the bus and continued on the last leg of our adventure, a herd of reindeer wandering through the roadside forest outside the bus window elicited squeals and wide eyes from students eager to explore this foreign arctic world. We pulled into the village shortly after, where we would navigate traffic full of other buses, cars, and snowmobiles all eagerly finding their way towards the Jokkmokk Market. Our experience started with a much appreciated free breakfast buffet at a local elementary school. Dreams of pancake mountains and maple syrup waterfalls quickly dissipated as I discovered the food to be of a more traditional Swedish persuasion. The buffet was a smörgåsbord supplied with thick rectangular knäckebröd and large amounts of sliced meats, cheeses, red and yellow jams and marmalades, caviar, yogurts, oatmeal, fruit, and an assortment of milks, juices, coffees, and teas. While somewhat unconventional by American standards, it proved very delicious in its own right. With some positive encouragement and shameless lying, I was even able to convince many of my international peers to experiment with Kalles Kaviar—to disastrous results. Following the meal, students broke off into small groups and began to work their way through a labyrinth of canopies and tents endlessly stocked with fascinating and exotic goods. While a large amount of the merchants were Sami, many Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian traders had also made the journey for a chance to sell their wares. A wide spectrum of food was for sale, ranging from the very popular reindeer and elk meats, prepared as patties, jerky, or thick raw slabs, to baked goods and sweets in the forms of homemade breads, chocolate balls, and cookies. Furs, boots, shoes, and clothes were also abundantly available for purchase. For myself I bought a hand stitched woolen hat embroidered with a blue and yellow cross pattern and a pair of hand stitched gray gloves embroidered with a green, blue, yellow, and red pattern that represents the colors of the official Sami flag. The narrow makeshift roads of the market overflowed with a diverse selection of old, young, international, and local patrons, making the navigation from merchant to merchant a sluggish process. Sleds were dragged and pushed to transport goods and small children. Reindeer were paraded through the crowd by Sami dressed in traditional garb and very open to friendly conversation or questions. The reindeer seemed another favorite photograph opportunity for many students to seize, taking pictures



Benjamin Pflughoeft

beside the surprisingly short and calm Christmas animals while rustling their fur or tickling their antlers. Small campfires were tucked away in between many of the tents where marshmallows for roasting and non-alcoholic glögg for drinking were very generously provided free of charge. After much shopping and exploration, eventually my student group found itself at the small frozen local lake just outside of town which provided a stage for the afternoon’s activities. The main activities of the day included reindeer races, helicopter tours of the region’s natural beauty, and recreational dogsled rides. For a fee of 100 kronor, about 16 U.S. dollars, I received a brief taste of dog sledding alongside an international peer. Ten specially bred sled dogs lined up in harnessed pairs and dragged us along the ground at great velocities. At the back of our sled, a relic of wood and iron, a burly Swedish musher belted out orders from beneath his beard to help guide the dogs along a designated path. Sledding along the sinuous trail proved treacherous, quickly sliding back and forth on the slippery snow, particularly for me, having only the petite South Korean girl sitting in front of me to squeeze onto for support. Although lasting only a couple minutes, the exhilaration of the fast-paced frozen romp will remain with me for time immortal. After participating, thanking and hugging our dogs, and taking several selfies with them, our day wound down as we returned to town for afternoon fika. A concept most international students have learned to love dearly, fika is a small break during the day in which you socialize with your peers while drinking coffee or tea and normally consuming some sort of sweet dessert. This fika was no different. We gorged upon pooled resources of taffy, cakes, and various other candies purchased during the day at the market. As fika drew to a close, we returned to our buses and prepared for the journey home, again engulfed in the darkness of the north. Some students swapped anecdotes from their experiences while others slept, exhausted by such an overwhelming amount of activities and excitement. My thoughts retraced the enduring highlights of the day: the celebration of culture, the fostering of community, and the appreciation of the past. The Jokkmokk Market demonstrates that acceptance of a mainstream lifestyle does not demand deviation from tradition and, as such, it asserted itself as an incredibly educational and entertaining opportunity for insight into the history of the mysterious Sami people. ◼

A Day in JokkMokk


A sign designating the Arctic Circle written in several languages. From top to bottom, Swedish, Finnish, English, French, and German.

Sled dogs eagerly waiting to get to work. While idle, they barked and howled constantly. Once on the move, silent as the falling snow.

A merchant clad in fur selling knives, woodworking utensils, cups, and bowls.

Various animal furs and pelts for purchase along with reindeer antlers.


A young Sami boy participating in a cultural activity â&#x20AC;&#x201C; raising a banner promoting the preservation of multicultural identities.

A young Sami girl helping lead a reindeer around the Market.

An elderly Sami woman escorting a reindeer through the market while holding a small child.

Benjamin Pflughoeft

A Day in JokkMokk


Sami men having a laugh and making small talk.

Two of the sled dogs that pulled me. So cute.

Unfortunately not for sale.


What is Romanticism? This is a question that many people believe they are more than capable of answering. In truth, though, Romanticism is not an easily defined literary movement. It comprises layers upon layers of concepts and ideas, and some are even so complex that the human mind has difficulty encompassing them within an easily explicable framework. In Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Philosopher’s Stone,” the protagonist’s goal is to locate and unify the Romantic themes of beauty, truth, and goodness, thus making a jewel that shines so brightly that stars are pale in comparison. In an attempt to shed light upon the rather overwhelming concept that is Romanticism, I will focus my discussion on the secondary concepts of beauty, truth, and goodness, which can be found extensively in “The Philosopher’s Stone” and how they contribute to defining the Romantic Movement. These three aforementioned concepts are at the heart of the Romantic Movement, forming a bridge from civilization to nature and the divine. Romanticism became popular in literary culture around the second half of the 18th century. Writers and poets like Hans Christian Andersen, who was first published in 1827, thrived during this time, writing books and tales that were heavily imbued with Romantic elements. The writer Vissarion Belinsky offers a definition of Romanticism, saying that: the soil of [it] is not history, not real life, not nature and not the external world but the mysterious laboratory in the human heart where all sensations and feelings grow unseen, where questions ceaselessly arise about the world and eternity, about death and immortality, about the fate of the individual, about the secret of love and bliss and suffering.* Richard Freeborn, “Belinskii, Romanticism and Reality,” The Slavonic and East European Review 77, no. 2 (1999): 269-279, stable/4212837.

These unanswerable questions—“about the world and eternity,” “about death and immortality,” the meaning of life, etc.—are embraced and rationalized by the divine aspect of Romanticism. We humans do not know the

B e a u t y , T r u t h , a nd Goodness

answers, and we probably never will, but God knows and merely chooses not to reveal His secrets to us. In Andersen’s tale, the wise man is disappointed in finding that he cannot read about “Life after Death.”* This is because he is not meant to know, just as no one is. It is God’s knowledge and God’s alone. The divine and nature are inextricably linked together as pantheism places God everywhere at all times. God is a part of everything that is natural; from the smallest rock on a mossy green plain to the tallest mountain, God has gifted all things in nature with His spirit. Therefore, being in touch with nature means being in touch with the divine, making “nature’s child” an ethically and morally upright person. Hence, the Romantics worship a God who shows Himself to mankind in every aspect of nature. He encourages the dual mentality of man both being solidly grounded and at the same time reaching for the sky—in our case the wise man and his children, who are humble and wise beyond their years, yet still strive for more—and favors the individuals who unabashedly reveal their closeness to their natural surroundings. The sensations and feelings Belinsky is depicting are all born and bred inside each and every person in “the mysterious laboratory in the human heart,” which means that the seed and core of Romanticism lie within the individual.* The human heart, then, becomes more important than the head as, in essence, the individual must ‘think’ with his heart rather than his head. In this sense, rational thoughts about mundane matters are being replaced by intuitive feelings of rightness or goodness pertaining to a more divine sphere. These intuitive feelings, rather than rational thoughts, prove to be much more valuable when attempting to realize concepts such as beauty, truth, and goodness within Romanticism. The tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Philosopher’s Stone,” focuses on the question of where beauty, truth, and goodness really come from. But before the reader can even begin to look for them, metaphorically speaking, he or she must first reach some degree of understanding concerning his or her nature. To understand these concepts, a certain amount of imagination is required. They necessitate that the reader ceases to think about ‘things’ in the traditionally logical and rational sense. One must devote oneself entirely to discovering them, never faltering from the true path that God has laid down in front of each of them to follow. It is important to note, however, how the three are related. James M. Jacobs, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana, believes that they are all dependent on the freedom they are given. For example, if one were to give beauty full freedom, anything could be considered beautiful. It would then be measured in the eye of the beholder, allowing everyone


Hans Christian Andersen, The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, trans. Erik Christian Haugaard (New York: Anchor Books, 1983), 503.

Richard Freeborn, “Belinskii, Romanticism and Reality,” The Slavonic and East European Review.


James M. Jacobs, “The Inherent Limitations on Human Freedom,” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 13, no. 1, (2010): 107-131. Ibid.

Jared S. Moore, “Beauty as Harmony,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 2, no. 7, (1942-43): 40-50.

Mattias Schmidt

to choose what is beautiful for him or herself. Similarly, truth would lose its objectivity, depriving it of all meaningfulness. And the good, if allowed to be chosen by anyone and everyone, would cease to be a “standard for evaluating human behavior,” losing all meaningfulness.* Succinctly put, beauty, truth, and goodness are all relative, dependent on the degrees of freedom they are given.* When individuals recognize something as being beautiful, it is for one of two reasons. Either they find this object to be aesthetically pleasing, which means it sounds good, feels good, or looks good, or this object appeals to their intellect, imagination, or emotions. These two objective theories of the recognition of beauty are labeled formalistic and idealistic, respectively, and they are supposedly not mutually reconcilable.* However, I disagree, in that I believe they are inevitably linked, constructing a path that runs between civilization and nature. This path is, by necessity, defined by the observer’s point of observation, but the two theories become very apparently juxtaposed when the dichotomy of nature vs. civilization is addressed. Society focuses primarily on the aesthetic aspect of beauty, especially in today’s media-driven world. Models are praised and paid for their looks, not their inner qualities, fast food is appreciated for its taste, not its nutritional values, and politicians are, arguably, admired more for what they say they will do, and not their level of integrity or honesty. Conversely, nature is considered beautiful when it instills in the observer a sense of contentment and contemplative calm. Nature will grab hold of person’s intellectual curiosity and provide it with enough philosophical puzzling to keep the mind going for hours. It touches upon emotions and sensations, and it brings happiness and humility to everyone who is able and willing to be touched by it. It is natural and simple, yet still infinitely inspiring. In this sense, the immediate difference between beauty in civilization and beauty in nature is the lack of societal influence on nature’s beauty and the effects that it has on one’s thoughts and feelings. When you see a beautiful model on TV, you might think, “Hm, she is a very attractive woman,” and that is where your thoughts about her come to a dead end. No intellectual peak is reached by thoughts of her beauty; instead, the observer will possess a very simplistic thought that, at the most, will only cause some sort of emotionless arousal. On the other hand, when staring down into the Grand Canyon you notice the immensity, the beauty, and the natural chaos of time’s effects on rock. You start to wonder, “How could a river cause all of this? And how long could it have taken? What will it look like in one-hundred years’ time?” and so forth. Beyond the countless questions it raises, it leaves the observer speechless and in awe,

B e a u t y , T r u t h , a nd Goodness

merely standing on the precipice of a mile-deep cliff, staring across it, thinking and saying nothing, appreciating something that humans have had no hand in creating. This is where the link between nature and civilization forms. Beauty is not just one or the other, formalistic or idealistic; it is both. Only by using all five of our senses can we truly perceive beauty. Only by understanding beauty both corporeally and mentally can we fully comprehend and absorb it. In the tale, beauty is found in a lonely rose out in the wilderness. The poet, for a reason unknown to us, feels a connection to this particular rose. He finds this rose to be so beautiful that he writes a poem about it, sharing its beauty with the rest of the world. This means that he finds this rose to be beautiful on a different level from everything surrounding it. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to him, but he also has some kind of emotional response deep down inside of him that is awakened when he sees the rose unfold its leaves, baring its pretty petals for all to see. The poem that he writes is a manifestation of his feelings toward the rose that are inspired and motivated by his visual interpretation of what is happening, making it obvious that his view of beauty in this case is both formalistic and idealistic. Thus, again, both are needed to fully comprehend true beauty. Romanticism’s truth is defined as slightly different from what is deemed truth in today’s world. The Romantic truth is corporeally felt by the individual to be a rock-solid truth. This is different from the generally accepted truths of modern society, because today it appears that truths are primarily coming from outside sources, such as parents, teachers, textbooks, newspapers, or TV stations. Mathematical equations, for example, are presented as unquestionable truths although they may seem difficult to comprehend for the normal human brain. Rather than feeling in one’s innermost soul that E equals MC squared, one must accept this as a truth if one wants to progress in college. The Romantic truth, on the other hand, is an individually comprehended idea and impression that is felt deep down inside to be right.* Truth in modern civilization, then, is what the society as a whole believes, or what it wants its members to believe, whether it is “universally” true or not. The truth to the citizens of North Korea is that if they pick up an American pamphlet from a pamphlet bomb, their hands will disintegrate.* The truth to a five-year-old child in America is that Santa Claus will refrain from giving out presents if the child is too naughty. And, of course, through the media we are allowed to hear and see what our governments, in collaboration with the media, want us to hear and see. The recent wikileaks incident is an excellent example of this limited perspective, which may be exploded by previously inaccessible


Herbert Schueller, “Romanticism Reconsidered,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 20, no. 4, (1962): 359-68, http://www.jstor. org.ezproxy.library. pdfplus/427898.pdf. Paul Jorgenson (retired soldier) in discussion with the author, 2011.


Judith Norman, “Nietzsche and Early Romanticism,” Journal of the History of Ideas 63, no. 3, (2002): 501-519, http://muse.jhu. edu.ezproxy.library. journal_of_the_h istory _ of _ ideas / v063/63.3norman.html.

Mattias Schmidt

information suddenly made accessible. In this sense, it is more correct to claim that the so-called truth in civilization is a belief embraced by individuals who find it palatable and reassuring. Whatever the individual chooses to believe at the moment is his or her truth. It is not substantiated; it is only in the mind. It is not a universal, God-sent epiphany or inspiration filtered through nature which makes it concrete and rock-solid as long as the individual can recognize it within his or her soul. The distinction, then, between the modern and Romantic truth, is straightforward. The modern truth is what one mentally perceives to believe at the moment, a temporary, always changing concept of truth, depending on media, moodswings, and economic crises. This is a truth for the group of people belonging to a shared sphere. Conversely, the romantic truth is an individual knowledge of a soul-deep truth, chosen and embraced by the individual in harmony with nature. Hence, it is up to the individual to find and accept his or her own truth, a personal truth that, though largely consistent from person to person, does indeed change from one individual to the next. These two seemingly different ways of discovering truths actually have one very important aspect in common. The idea of belief is found in nature’s truth as well as in that of society. Truth, whether modern or Romantic, is just a very strong faith. In “The Philosopher’s Stone,” truth is found in The Book of Truth, which is the only truth not based on faith, because it was sent from God. Because it is a book sent from God, its answers are the absolute truth, the natural truth, and it cannot be disputed. The Book of Truth holds the answers to every question imaginable, if only one can actually read it. However, in real life, something like The Book of Truth, arguably, does not exist. Instead, we are required to determine our own truths, Romantic and modern, based on what we believe and feel. In civilization, good is a matter of following ethical and moral codes. These morals have over the years, been greatly influenced by religion. Therefore, through religion, it is God’s will that we be pious, honorable, and devout. In “Nietzsche and Early Romanticism,” the author quotes Friedrich Schlegel saying, “Every good human being is always progressively becoming God. To become God, to be human, to cultivate oneself are all expressions that mean the same thing.”* From this, we can assume that only through religion can one be truly good. Goodness in civilization requires a great deal of devotion to your fellow humans and everything else you share the earth with. In nature, goodness is a matter of being in unison with all that surrounds you. In this way, nature and civilization are very similar in their interpretations of what is good; the goodness is just seen in a different framework. In the “The Philosopher’s Stone,” the daughter

B e a u t y , T r u t h , a nd Goodness

represents all that is good. She does not care for herself, only her brothers’ wellbeing and her father’s desire to acquire the philosopher’s stone. She is in harmony with everyone and everything that surrounds her, and she spreads this harmony to everything around her. Devotion is what drives her. It is a feeling that all will be right in the end, that God will look out for her, and that her unfaltering belief that she will unify the beautiful, the good, and the true will guide her to her desired destination. She is the example for all others to follow. The tale concludes on a happy note, with all loose ends being tied and harmony being restored to the family. The daughter’s devotion and purity of heart forms the philosopher’s stone out of the beauty, truth, and goodness naturally found in all human beings. In this sense, the daughter is a true Romantic. She achieves a oneness with both nature and civilization that allows her to succeed where others fail. Andersen’s conclusion makes us realize that beauty, truth, and goodness are concepts at the heart of the Romantic Movement that, although intangible, may yet be depicted in the representation of the inner qualities of his characters. As a result, a cognitively visible thread is woven between nature and civilization with respect to the three concepts. True beauty is perceived both physically and mentally. Whether looking at a piece of man-made artwork, or a range of snow-capped mountains, the observer will be inspired and nurtured by true beauty. Beauty, truth, and goodness are found in the individual’s relationship with both society and nature as they are all manifestations of individual faith, whether it be in man-made concepts or in the demonstration of God’s absolute reign. Therefore, these three concepts build a bridge of harmony between all humans and their natural, surrounding environment as expressed towards the end of the tale when Andersen writes, “The four brothers had returned; they had felt a longing for their home when the leaves from the tree fell on their chests….”* And Andersen sums up the argument when he writes in the final line that “From the word ‘FAITH’ begins the bridge of hope that leads to the All-loving, to eternity.”* The message is strong and clear. With faith, it is possible to find truth, beauty, and goodness, and, more importantly, to understand its importance and incorporate it into one’s life on earth. ◼


Hans Christian Andersen, The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, 514.

Ibid., 515.


Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the familiar story of emigration was one of a lone individual or a family leaving a homeland that was without promise and searching for renewed prospects in life, boarding a ship to take them to a virgin land to pursue a dream. For the overwhelming number of these people, that virgin land was in the Americas, and the dream that they were pursuing has been termed “the American dream,” one still being chased by millions today. Yet for a brief time in the early 1930s, thousands of Finnish immigrants in the United States and Canada turned that story on its head, leaving the new world for the old to live the dream of socialism. Recruited to help build East Karelia—the Finnish land of national legend—into a bastion of socialist industry, they were welcomed by the Soviet government, allowed to set up schools and factories, and even given special treatment. Beneath the surface, the situation was less ideal: over half of the would-be Soviets left in short order due to harsh conditions, while the more open atmosphere fostered in the first half of the decade gave way to paranoia and government-imposed terror. The emigrants to Karelia were not alone; thousands of others moved to the Soviet Union in the early 1930s in hopes of escaping the Great Depression and building a dynamic society. A combination of culturally ingrained leftism and contemporary economic issues led them to be easily swayed by the idea of living a better life with a higher purpose. They left in massive numbers over a few years and were welcomed, though not for long, and the actions of the Stalinist regime resulted in less-than ideal endings for the stories of many.


While Finland successfully developed a national identity in the late nineteenth century independent of its dominant Swedish and Russian neighbors, Finnish society faced an enormous number of challenges pushing

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them out of their home country. Making a living off of the land became harder as successive crop failures wrought economic devastation and caused widespread famine. On top of the struggle many individuals faced for survival came a larger one for Finland as a whole when, in 1899, Czar Nicholas II began imposing policies aimed at replacing Finnish culture with Russian. While unsuccessful, this attempt at “Russification” further aggravated many Finns to the point of departure. Later on, another exodus was prompted in the wake of Finland’s brief but brutal civil war, in which a communist attempt at government takeover was foiled at a cost of over thirty thousand lives.* The Finns encountered a new set of problems in their adopted country. Tensions between the upper and working classes at home were manifested in America, as Finns found themselves at the bottom of the social hierarchy in many communities. Whatever advantages their technical skills gave them in the job search were essentially canceled out by their inability to speak English, a language completely different from their native tongue. As a result, they were a marginalized group, settling mostly in the heavily forested areas of the uppermost Midwest and engaging in what was frequently menial labor. Both out of tradition and in response to these circumstances, the Finns who moved to America maintained a stronger sense of solidarity than other immigrant ethnicities, as evidenced by their building of community halls in whatever towns they lived in. The Finnish-Americans’ response to tough conditions and their community spirit did not come only through benign channels, however. The seeds of socialism, sowed in the old country, blossomed in the new as Finns became known for their left-wing activism. Despite being a relatively small population among the myriad of American immigrant groups, they were estimated at one time to have constituted forty percent of the membership of the American Communist Party.* This participation was not passive, either, as Finns founded newspapers in their native language, namely Tyomies and Eteenpain, which were nationally distributed and served as mouthpieces for Socialists and Communists, respectively. The flight of Finnish reds to America after the civil war of 1918 gave the movement additional strength, and the community halls that had been built so extensively soon became political centers, holding events that featured speeches by prominent labor organizers. This action was not without repercussions from outside and inside the community. From outside, management bosses in the mining and timber camps held the power to blacklist those who were seen as too radical, and government crackdowns on political dissenters during the First World War and the 1919 Red Scare


Thomas DuBois, Class lecture, Kalevala and Finnish Folklore, April 22, 2013.

Irene Galaktionova, “Soviet Karelia,” Russian Life 4 (2009): 35.


Mayme Sevander, They Took My Father: A Story of Idealism and Betrayal (Duluth, Minnesota: PfeiferHamilton, 1992), 8-9.

Zachary Strom

gave these men a government sanction. From within, it became apparent that not all Finns were taken under the spell of socialism, and the community soon split between the radical elements and the moderates and conservatives. Each group became known by their preferred place of meeting: the activists were known as the “Hall Finns” because they met in the community halls, while the other side established itself as the “Church Finns,” and any advocacy they did was for mainstream causes, mainly temperance. In some ways, this divide mirrored that between the Reds and Whites in the old country, if on a smaller scale and in a significantly less abrasive manner.* As with many other immigrant groups, the Finns were hard-hit by the Great Depression, and established systems to maintain community welfare faced overwhelming pressure from the sheer magnitude of the economic crisis. With many struggling to make a living, radicals were gravitating towards a solution that they believed could be dynamic and constructive.


Lawrence Hokkanen, Karelia: A FinnishAmerican Couple in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-41 (St. Cloud, Minnesota: North Star Press, 1991), xi.

It was no accident that many in the United States after 1929 came to see the Soviet Union as a land of plenty. Where the Great Depression had curtailed job creation in the former, the advent of Stalin’s five-year plans in the latter meant that there was more than enough work to go around. The favorable image many came to develop of Soviet society was also the result of a very deliberately crafted public relations campaign by their government, which, in the early 1930s, constructed an impressive façade to outsiders showcasing expansive public works projects and fair treatment of workers. For American socialists, the new Russia appeared to be the materialization of all that they had previously only dreamed of. Still another dream of one Soviet administrator with Finnish roots provided special incentive for Finnish-American emigration. Edvard Gylling, who had fled to Russia in the wake of the Finnish Civil War, had not given up on the prospects for a red Finland, and in his mind, East Karelia across the border offered a perfect opportunity to start the process. By utilizing the vast timber resources it offered while establishing the dominance of ethnic Finns, he envisioned that an independent Karelia could bring heavy influence to bear on the rest of Scandinavia and one day expand into a Scandinavian Soviet Republic.* Yet Gylling’s plan called for too large an industrial output in a sparsely populated region; there was not enough manpower to harvest such enormous amounts of timber, and

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creating it would necessitate importing an ethnically heterogeneous population from the rest of Russia. It was at this juncture that Gylling turned to the Finns living in the New World as a source of labor. Fighting the reluctance of Stalin’s government to import a large and possibly subversive foreign population, he personally invited FinnishAmerican socialists without government backing and oversaw the creation in America of the Karelian Technical Aid Society to recruit more. The leftist leadership among American Finns readily embraced this idea, with both Tyomies and Eteenpain falling in line, and speaking tours among the Finn Halls spread the word that Karelia was a new promised land.* Beginning in 1930, around ten thousand Finns made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean and through Europe to Petrozavodsk, capital of the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Many brought their families with; more importantly, they brought their own mechanical equipment and skills and assumed leading positions in their new communities. They also established new industrial facilities, as in the case of Lauri Hokkanen, a Finn from northern Michigan who ran a successful ski factory in Petrozavodsk. Despite difficult conditions and cramped housing, many new immigrants remained driven out of an altruistic desire to help the region prosper. An additional encouragement came in the form of perquisites from the Soviet government, as the immigrants were allowed more substantial food rations than natives and could even shop at INSNAB, their own grocery store.* A Finnish-language school in Petrozavodsk and the existence of Finnish publishing houses reinforced the immigrants’ native culture even as Finns and Karelians remained a minority population. Moving about the Karelian countryside, meanwhile, its new residents found ample opportunity for recreation in seemingly unending wilderness. The coming of the Finns brought numerous benefits to Karelia. They brought with not only advanced technical knowledge that went a long way in forwarding regional industry, but also Western tastes and ideas that influenced strong cultural development. Music notably flourished, attested to by the Karelian Radio Symphony Orchestra, composed mostly of Finnish-Americans. Through 1935, many immigrants who stayed enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Soviet Union.


Information that is known today, and was not in the 1930s, has justifiably given us a very negative image of Stalin’s Russia. While Karelia’s new


Sevander, They Took My Father, 19-22.

Hokkanen, Karelia, 55.


Sevander, They Took My Father, 54.

Sevander, They Took My Father, 77.

Zachary Strom

settlers left for the Soviet Union with a great sense of optimism, their hopes were soon canceled out by reality; most who could leave did, and those who did not faced what was more often than not a bitter and brutal fate. Even before terror took hold of their adopted country in the latter half of the decade, many Finnish-Americans became simply disenchanted with standards of living in Karelia, and it is estimated that up to half of those who came left in short order. The faithful who stayed, frequently resented by natives for their greater wealth, were soon rewarded with a holocaust that killed many of their numbers and twenty million more across Russia. The seeds of Stalin’s Great Purge, perhaps the bloodiest consequence of individual paranoia the world has ever seen, were sown with the assassination of national party leader Sergei Kirov in 1934, just as Finnish immigration was tailing off. The mysterious death of a nationally revered figure troubled many; with the daughter of prominent immigrant Oscar Corgan later recalling her father saying in hushed tones that serious trouble awaited them, but that they had made a commitment to stay.* The following year, Stalin began a crackdown on outsider nationalities, which in Karelia meant the closing of Finnish-language schools, the elimination of special privileges for immigrants, and the removal of Edvard Gylling himself. At the same time Stalin was beginning to close his fist on his people, he began to anticipate troublesome events in the outside world, and soon attempted to impose his will across Europe and Asia. Finland itself now became a subject of his aggressive intent, and the impact of the Great Purge was thus magnified on Karelia’s Finns, who were now not only outsiders but potential enemies. By 1937, residents were living in constant fear of a knock on the door from the NKVD secret police, and in December of that year the aforementioned Oscar Corgan, who had freely published Soviet propaganda as editor of Tyomies in America, found himself among those arrested and killed. The hysteria finally peaked in the summer of 1938, with the prominence of Finnish-Americans in the community making their absences very obvious: nearly all of the workers at the Petrozavodsk ski factory simply were not there one morning; half of the symphony orchestra too was arrested.* Confusion and outrage among the Finns existed—if, as the NKVD maintained, no innocents were arrested, how could such massive numbers of people have all committed serious crimes?—but fear stifled these concerns to the utmost level of privacy. Though the purge finally subsided after 1938, the next year Karelia was at the center of a Soviet war effort against the Finns; while government

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propaganda ensured that citizens would only hear the Soviet side of events, some immigrants felt a secret sense of pride in their erstwhile countrymen for a brave and unconventional defense. When the Finnish invaded in 1941, the Finns left in Karelia were sent to labor camps far from the front lines; by this time, essentially everyone who could leave had. While some who left had a sense of guilt at “abandoning” the Soviet experiment, it was considered a far greater consolation to be out of harm’s way after leaving. Those who stayed behind generally assimilated into Russian society, and with the general secrecy of Soviet society, their story remained generally obscure until the Gorbachev era. In the late 1980s, Petrozavodsk was paired with Duluth as a sister city, and it was then that the Minnesotans visiting the city discovered the story; then, in the early 1990s, a number of books were published on the subject, including memoirs by Oscar Corgan’s daughter, Mayme Sevander, who remained in Russia to become a schoolteacher, as well as Lauri (now Lawrence) Hokkanen, who left the country with his wife in 1941. Shedding light on the emigration and its tragic end, they leave a valuable firsthand account of the experience for posterity.


The phenomenon of American emigration to the Soviet Union was not limited to the Finns, but that group was uniquely enticed with the prospect of creating a nationalist utopia in what many saw as their culture’s homeland. Karelia was and is always associated with the epic poem of the Finnish people, the Kalevala, and that touch of Romantic appeal combined with a long Finnish tradition of socialism to lead many to move there. In many ways, during the early 1930s they truly helped Karelia move towards what was seen as its full productive potential, introducing modern machinery to the region, as well as modern ideas. Neither Sevander’s and Hokkanen’s memoirs fail to take note of the possible influence of the latter on Yuri Andropov, then a bureaucrat in the region, who some fifty years later in his brief tenure as Soviet premier paved the way for Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformist policies. Yet the positive influence that Edvard Gylling’s idea could have had was severely curtailed by actions of Stalin’s government, which was never fully committed to making the idea a success and soon shut it down with excessive use of force. Though Gylling’s idea was quite idealistic and faced dubious prospects, it will never be known whether it could have worked or not because



Zachary Strom

of its abrupt cancellation. What is clear is that the experience disillusioned thousands. The Karelian experiment stands as a worthy item of historical intrigue, representing a small number of peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; nationalist ambition to create essentially an entirely new country using an untried system. On some scale, it replicated the experience of the Soviet Union as a whole, which started out with a utopian vision but, perhaps because of mismanagement, and more broadly due to the age-old conflict of dreams and reality, failed in its mission and has been relegated to the dustbin of history. â&#x2014;ź

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Byock, Jesse L. Saga of the Volsungs. University of California Press, 1990. Clark, Susan. “’Cold are the Counsels of Women’: The Revengeful Woman in Icelandic Family Sagas.” In Women as Protagonists and Poets in the German Middle Ages: An Anthology of Feminist Approaches to Middle High German Literature, edited by Albrecht Classen. Güppingen: Kümmerle Verlag, 1991. Green, W. C. “Egil’s Saga.” Icelandic Saga Database, edited by Sveinbjorn Thordarson. Jochens, Jenny. Women in Old Norse Society. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995. Jochens, Jenny. Old Norse Images of Women. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. McTurk, Rory. Studies In Ragnars Saga Lodbrʹokar and Its Major Scandinavian Analogues. Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1991. Olrik, Axel. “Epic laws of folk narrative.” In The Study of Folklore, edited by Alan Dundes. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1965. Press, Muriel. Laxdaela Saga. Cambridge: In Parenthesis Publications, Old Norse Series, 1999.


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DuBois, Thomas. “Kalevala and Finnish Folklore.” Class lecture, Madison, WI, April 22, 2013. Galaktionova, Irene. “Soviet Karelia.” Russian Life 4 (2009): 35. Hokkanen, Lawrence. Karelia: A Finnish-American Couple in Stalin’s Russia, 193441. St. Cloud: North Star Press, 1991. Sevander, Mayme. They Took My Father: A Story of Idealism and Betrayal. Duluth: Pfeifer Hamilton, 1992. ◼



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