The subject of
Images of America in Scandinavia, the first comprehensive study of its kind, is as multifaceted, complex, and overwhelming as America or the United States, itself. It concerns the nature and function, reality and fiction of such images in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden past and present. The book is intended to be a source of solid information as well as a starting point for further inquiries into its cultural territory.
Part of its focus is on images of America rooted in printed sources, but, in addition, general surveys of other cultural signs of America in the Scandinavian countries present a broader picture and provide some of the background for the predominantly literary images. Issues such as government and politics, popular and vanguard music and art, and socio-cultural institutions intermittently come to the fore.
Framing the volume's three pairs of national surveys is an introductory chapter, which addresses the entire subject from a bird's-eye view, and a concluding chapter, which, by contrast, delves into the cross-fire of sentiments defining people whose images of America, are both American and Scandinavian. The discussion of America as perceived in Scandinavia sheds new light on intriguing inter-Scandinavian cultural distinctions and borderlines.
Countless books and articles, methods and theories, have been devoted to the study of national and cultural identity. Still, the exchanges between such identities and the images they engender - so indispensable for the participants in a global culture - remain clouded by many misconceptions.
Images of America in Scandinavia whose editors and authors all have Scandinavian backgrounds, will contribute an improved understanding of the cultural interplay between Scandinavia and the United States of America.
The years between 1775 and 1815 constitute a crucial episode in the evolutionary history of Europe and America. Between the start of the American Revolution, with the first armed clashes between British regulars and American militiamen at Concord and Lexington, and the closing act of the French Revolution, with the eclipse of Napoleon's dreams of pan-European glory on the battlefield of Waterloo, America and Europe witnessed the rise and fall of radicalism, which left virtually no aspect of public and private life untouched. While the American colonies managed to wrench themselves away from their colonial parent, and while France careered down the stormy rapids of its own Revolution, Great Britain went through the turbulent process of redefining itself vis-à-vis both these emerging nations, and the world at large. But the period 1775 to 1815 offers more than the two ideological Revolutions that determined the face of modern America and Europe: feeding into and emanating from these Revolutions there were major watersheds in virtually all areas of cultural, intellectual and political life - varying from the rise of Romanticism to the birth of abolitionism, and from the beginnings of modern feminism to the creation of modern nationhood and its enduring cultural stereotypes.
In this collection of interdisciplinary essays, historians and literary critics from both sides of the Atlantic analyze a broad spectrum of the watersheds and faultlines that arose in this formative era of Euro-American relations. Individually, the essays trace one or more of the transatlantic patterns of intellectual, cultural or scientific cross-pollination between the Old and the New World, between pre- and post-Revolutionary modes and mores. Collectively, the essays argue that the many revolutions that produced the national ideologies, identities and ideas of state of present-day America and Europe did not merely play a role in national debates, but that they very much belonged to an intricate network of transnational and, more particularly, transatlantic dialogues.