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Honors Program
Course Description

Honors Program: A pathway to excellence.

HON 202/402 Axes, Hammers, & Sickles: Scandinavian History & Culture (includes trip to three Scandinavian countries)

This course will provide a survey examination of the Scandinavian peoples from the medieval Viking era through the present time. Viking era themes will focus especially on tribal political structures and competition, the logic and processes of migration, the role of the family, ethics, cosmology and the processes of Christianization and resistance, and literary and artistic contributions.

The power vacuum left in Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire opened up new avenues for actors to wield influence and expand their political, economic, and cultural reach. During the Viking Age (ca. 800CE-1066CE), the Northern peoples achieved this, with their influence reaching from the Atlantic to places as far afield as Russia, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean. Integrating perspectives from history, archaeology, political economy, comparative religious studies, and mythology, this section of the course is grounded in interdisciplinary immersion of the student into the world of the medieval Norse tribes. We will engage them on their terms, and ascertain how the Viking Age emerged, and the factors that eventually led to its decline. We will also explore how the legacy of the Northern peoples has influenced more contemporary society and culture.

Themes explored in more contemporary eras begin with industrialization in the latter half of the 19th century; with this era 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. Sweden and Denmark have become members of the European Union, while Norway has maintained a reserved, and a somewhat ambivalent, distance.

On-campus coursework will be complemented by an 11-day study abroad experience in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Additionally, for the week that we are working on campus, students will be expected to participate in evening seminars as well as regularly scheduled block classes. By doing this, we will be able to allow students more independent study and exploration while travelling, with fewer structured sessions during the field experience.


Instructor: Drs. Janus & Glasgow

Substitutions: HSTR 101; HSTR 102; HSTR 326; HSTR 360; HSTR 494; ISSS 201; ISSS 213; ISSS 294; ISSS 321; ISSS 341; PSCI 331; PSCI 494.

Time: Spring 2012, BLOCK 7

Carl Friedrich Gauss 1777-1855 << back next>>

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