Course overview

This course will examine the publishing phenomenon of Nordic Noir, locating its roots in the early twentieth century, before exploring four contemporary novels from the genre. Our texts will be Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Soderberg; Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg; The Bird Tribunal - Agnes Ravatn; The Flatey Enigma - Viktor Arnor Ingolfson and Missing - Karin Alvtegen. These texts will take us inside the mind of Nordic Noir and we will evaluate the common features of the genre and its relationship with crime-fiction, horror and recent forms of Gothic literature. There will be ample scope for lively discussion in our sessions

Course description

The genre Nordic Noir, a publishing phenomenon and the

source of many small-screen drama series, has been one of

the most dominant forms of popular literature in the past

decades, which shows no sign of abating. We will explore the

origins of the literary genre, arguing that it begins with Doctor

Glas by Hjalmar Soderberg, who creates a tale of obsessive

love and murder.

We will then progress to explore more recent examples of the

genre, crossing several Scandinavian nations, each with its

own particular landscape and cultural emphases. Seeking

common features within the genre, we will discuss the

psychology of murder, the audience’s desire for horror, the

genre’s relationship with more traditional crime fiction and

the conventional thriller.

We will also discuss issues relating to the perceived misogyny

of Nordic Noir, the nature of its graphic depictions of death,

and how these elements relate to questions of individual and

societal attitudes to gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class.

These are important questions and require thoughtful


It is hoped that our discussions will allow an evaluation or

re-evaluation of the genre and the readership’s desire to be

entertained by terror, an argument that has been a live and

contentious one for centuries.

What financial support is available?

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