Published: Sept. 9, 2015 By


Interest in Nordic countries, whose flags fly here, has been rising, and so has interest in studying them. CU-Boulder has devoted more resources to meet the demand. Photo: iStockphoto.

We’re one of few Nordic studies programs in the country and the only program of our kind between Illinois and the West Coast

With the surge in popularity of Scandinavian culture and history depicted in films and books such as the best seller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, and TV shows like Vikings, inspired by the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Norse herothe Nordic Studies Program at the University of Colorado Boulder is enjoying a rise in student interest.

To address the increased interest, a visiting assistant professorship has been added to the program’s faculty, thanks to a co-sponsorship of $180,000 from the Danish Ministry of Education.

Benjamin TeitelbaumThe visiting professorship position will provide more opportunities for students in the Nordic Studies program, said Benjamin Teitelbaum, Ph.D., instructor and head of the growing program.

The Nordic Studies Program at CU-Boulder offers a dynamic curriculum that examines historic and contemporary life in Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Finland, Åland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Lapland.

Students can earn a minor in Nordic Studies. In the works are the introduction of Danish and Finnish studies and the expansion of the Swedish curriculum, as well as the development of an undergraduate certificate in Arctic Studies.

“We’re one of few Nordic studies programs in the country and the only program of our kind between Illinois and the West Coast,” said Teitelbaum.

Matthias Nordvig“We’ve had strong student interest, and our courses routinely fill early and have long wait lists. Nordic cultural institutions in the U.S. and in Europe are rallying behind our program because of its promise.”

The addition of Mathias Nordvig, Ph.D., filling the new visiting assistant professor position builds on the growing Nordic Studies Program.

A specialist in Old Norse studies, Nordvig is teaching courses in Danish language, Medieval history and Nordic literature and culture. He will also be developing a new course in Arctic Studies for undergraduates.

Prior to coming to CU-Boulder, Nordvig was on the faculty of the Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literature at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark.

His research interests include pre-Christian Nordic mythologies, Scandinavian folklore, Nordic memory studies, myth and disaster studies, North Atlantic and Greenlandic literature, the history of the Viking Age and Neo-paganism.

“First and foremost, I hope my students will acquire a basic understanding of Nordic culture,” said Nordvig, “and that my teaching will have broadened their horizons. I hope they will get a sense of the wealth of knowledge and reflections on human life that is available in the works of Nordic authors and artists.”

Kenna Bruner is a writer with Strategic Marketing Communications at CU-Boulder.