SCAND 381 / HSTEU 381

History of Scandinavia Since 1720



Professor: Dr. Terje Leiren
Office: Raitt Hall 318C
Telephone: (206) 543-7233
E-mail: leiren@u.washington.edu

Spring Quarter, 2008
Room: Smith 105
Time: MTWTh 10:30-11:20 am
(5 credits)

Office hours: Tues 1:00 - 2:00 pm.
and by appointment


Course Overview

This is a lecture discussion course on Scandinavian history since 1720. As a part of this course, we will also take occasional looks at the historical developments of the Baltic States, especially where developments relate to developments and events in Scandinavia itself. At the beginning of the 18th century, Scandinavia was dominated from Stockholm and Copenhagen. Finland was a province of Sweden while Norway and Iceland were part of the Dual Monarchy of Denmark-Norway. The Scandinavian countries developed fairly sophisticated absolutist regimes during the 17th century, but the loss of empire by 1720 helped to discredit the Swedish monarchy. In Denmark, on the other hand, the absolutist constitution, the Lex regia remained in effect [until 1849]. In the early 19th century absolutism was perceived by many as the only constitutional form which would guarantee the continuation of Slesvig-Holstein as a part of greater Denmark.

As in the rest of Europe, the 18th century witnessed the emergence of new intellectual currents during what came to be called the "Age of Enlightenment." Although primary emphasis was on "reason," a religious revival was also sweeping Scandinavia--having begun as a pietistic movement in northern Germany. It was, in many ways, a contrary pre-romantic movement which ran as a counter to the rational emphasis of the time.

Although the French Revolution spread its influence into Scandinavia, revolutionary fervor did not manifest itself. Ideas of liberty and national identity, however, did emerge, most notably in Finland and Norway, which had been satellite states to their dominant neighbors, Sweden and Denmark respectively.

During the 19th century, the Scandinavian countries were most notably influenced by the Romantic movement, a reaction to the Enlightenment and a cultural movement which owed much to the pietistic movement of the early 18th century. During the course of the 19th century, too, social issues emerged to play more prominent roles in people's consciousness and in the political life of Scandinavians.

With industrialization in the latter half of the 19th century came growing popular support for social democracy and an increasing emphasis on economic and material forces determining social and political development. The trend continued into the 20th century influenced by the writings of Karl Marx and the Russian Revolution inspiring Scandinavians as much as they did others throughout Europe. The Scandinavian variety of socialism, however, was largely reformist and evolutionary, not revolutionary.

The 20th century can perhaps be characterized as the century of social democracy and the welfare state in Scandinavia. Based on strict concepts of political and economic equality, the century gave political voice to the working classes, the so-called "proletariat." The trend, by and large, continued into the final decades of the 20th century as the Scandinavian countries sought to articulate "a middle way" between the communist totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union and the capitalistic liberalism of the United States. The Scandinavian states remain, in the first decade of the 21st century, a moderate blend of state ownership and private capital balanced and functioning within the context of parliamentary political democracies.

In Post-Cold War Europe, the Scandinavian states have softened their posture of Nordic unity to focus increasingly on European integration. Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, have become members of the European Union, while Norway and Iceland have maintained a reserved, and a somewhat ambivalent, distance. In the Baltic states, a new reality exists with the disappearance of the Soviet Union as they look increasingly to the European Union and NATO as economic and political partners. Both Scandinavia and the Baltic states are in the process of redefining their roles as they navigate their way through the beginning years of the 21st century.



Required Reading

Available at University Book Store

On Reserve


Writing Assignment/Paper

Students are required to submit one short writing assignment of two-three pages. The paper is to be a discussion and critical evaluation of the content and subject matter of any website relevant to Scandinavian and Baltic history and culture since 1720. The evaluation of the paper will consider: (a) the choice of website; (b) how effectively the website is discussed and evaluated; (c) whether, and to what extend, the paper reflects critical thinking and analysis; and (d) the quality of the writing, that is, is it grammatically correct and error-free?


Exams and Grading

There will be two mid-term exams and a final exam in this class. The exams will be essay-type, consisting of two parts: (1). a short essay that identifies and gives the historical significance of an item (you will write on 4 of 8 items); and (2). a longer essay that probes a major theme or topic from the class (you will write on 1 of 2 questions). The exact format of the exam and student expectations will be discussed in class. In addition, there will be an internet assignment. Information is available on the class syllabus distributed at the beginning of the quarter.

The final class grade will be determined primarily by student performance on the three exams and the writing assignment. Exam questions will come from the in-class lectures and the assigned reading. Possibilities for extra credit will be announced in class. Occasional guest lecturers may visit the class and students will be be responsible for relevant material discussed on these occasions as well as during the regular in-class lectures.


Tentative Schedule of Topics