Next to Saxo’s Gesta danorum, no corpus of medieval texts was probably more important to Danish romanticism than the Danish popular ballads. Danish poets from Johannes Ewald and onwards adapted individual ballads or imitated the ballad form, and they recycled, in a variety of genres, themes, characters, and stories drawn from the ballads. This subproject will study the Danish ballad revival in the light of the ballad revival in Northern Europe, Britain and Germany in particular. It will consider ballad editions published between 1760 and 1850 as well as studies of the Danish popular ballad, but most importantly, it will deal with poetic and imaginative adaptations of the ballads by, for instance, Ewald, Oehlenschläger, Heiberg, Grundtvig, Ingemann, Andersen, and Hauch.
In Denmark, the novel is consolidated as the most popular genre of fiction in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Danish literary historiography, however, has failed to acknowledge the extent to which the earliest novels in Denmark were influenced by medievalism – and vice versa: how the novel contributed to the romantic fascination with the Middle Ages.
The aim of this project is twofold:
1. Viewing the novel through the lens of medievalism, the project will contribute to rewriting the history of the novel in Denmark. The project will show how the Danish novel did not suddenly rise as a genre of realism, as Ian Watt (1957) has it, but came into being through the development of its fictional form, blending discourses of myth, history, and romance.
2. The project will examine the fictional techniques through which the novel made the (imaginary) Middle Ages come alive in the mind of the reader, hereby showing how the novel contributed to the shaping of medievalism.
This project will investigate the prevailing tendency to combine historical and fictional events and characters in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Focus will be on key novels from these centuries by Thielo, Suhm, and Ingemann.
Both Oehlenschläger and Grundtvig found inspiration in Old Norse literature from Iceland, which they reproduced, translated and discussed throughout their authorships. In Danish literary history, there is a consensus that the authors’ treatment of the Old Nourse sources was an important part of the romantic break-through in Denmark, yet so far the traces of medievalism in both authorships have not been discussed. With medievalism as its theoretical background, this project will produce a comparative study of texts from Oehlenschläger and Grundtvig, which deal with or are based on Old Norse sources. The project will have a special focus on the North as a transnational concept and the skald as a role model in order to examine how the authors invent a vision of the early Middle Ages in the North and a particular skald, and, in doing so, find an identity for themselves as poets. Based on this study, the project intends to discuss Oehlenschläger and Grundtvig in a new perspective, with reference to the international reception of Old Norse literature in European romanticism.
Perhaps most long-lived among the aspects of Romantic literature is the historic setting in medieval times. Since Shakespeare and Goethe, Westerners crave stories about knights and castles. To this fact attest the viewer ratings of Game of Thrones as well as the popularity of ‘Renaissance Fairs’, ‘vikinge-træf’ and roleplaying games alike. The frame work of this subproject is twofold: 1) To examine the development of the historical drama in Denmark 1750-1770 in the cross field of German historians (Johann Heinrich Schlegel), dramatists (Johann Elias Schlegel, Gerstenberg, Klopstock) and poets, philologists and philosophers of the Sturm-und-Drang-age (Bürger, Herder, Goethe) and Danish historicist playwrights (Samsøe, Ewald). Central to this cross-field is Bernstoff’s German Circle, that dominated Danish culture in the middle part of the 18th century. 2) This postdoctoral project has a second goal: An analysis of the relation between the birth of this ‘genre’ and its Nachleben, i.e. modern medievalism, published for instance as web material, lectures, high-school teaching plans textbooks meant to problematize and historicize the omnipresence of the medieval.