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C LIT 315 C: National Cinemas

Scandinavian Cinema

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
SMI 211
Andrew Nestingen

Syllabus Description:


Scandinavian Cinema/National Cinemas

Spring 2015 


Course Information                                                   Instructors

5 Credits                                                                  Andrew Nestingen, Professor

Room: SMI 211                                                        Raitt 305P 

Meeting Tim T, Th. 11:30-1:20                                 (206)543-0643    

Office Hours: Th. 1:30-3:20                                                


                                                                                 Belinda (Qian) He, Teaching Assistant


                                                                                 Office Hours: 3:30-5:20, CMB B-015




SCAND 360/COMP LIT 315C surveys the cinema of the Nordic countries from the first film exhibitions in Scandinavia (1895) to the present. The course has two aims. First, it seeks to acquaint you with the key institutions, periods, film styles, and figures in Nordic cinema, including Mauritz Stiller, Carl Th. Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman, Lars von Trier, and Aki Kaurismäki. Second, it seeks to deepen your knowledge of film history and improve your skills in analyzing film.




There are three specific goals for the course.


  1. Acquire a basic vocabulary of film analysis to sharpen and focus arguments about the films we watch.
  2. Organize your familiarity with the films we watch into historical and comparative categories. In other words, you should know which countries the films come from, who made them, what period they belong to, and what defines that period. On this basis, you should be able to distinguish the films among themselves, and with others outside Scandinavian cinema.
  3. You should be able to write accurately and thoughtfully about these films, and their histories, which you’ll demonstrate through class assignments.  


So what? What is the benefit of knowing about Scandinavian cinema? The course will help you understand and make sense of Scandinavian national cinemas and cultures, and help you compare them with other cinemas and cultures. It may also help you better understand a part of your own or a friend’s background, or provide a sense of the culture of a country or city you may read about or visit. It’ll also help you see how films work, and give you a set of terms for identifying and analyzing the  mechanisms and functions of cinema. Since the average American annually watches scores of films on screens of various kinds -- even the big screen -- understanding the moving image is a crucial part of cultural literacy. “Yeah, that was good,” or “that sucked—it was boring” does not explain why we like a film, why we hate one, or why you should watch one film and not the other. Studying a specific cinematic tradition in Scandinavia also challenges our assumptions about cinema. Scandinavian cinema shares some similarities with Hollywood—in fact, many Scandinavians have made prominent careers in Hollywood. But, because Scandinavian cinema also draws on different cultural, political, theatrical, and filmic ideas and traditions, it also differs significantly from American cinema. By learning about the similarities and differences, and how to identify and analyze them, we begin to understand Scandinavian cinema, and American cinema.




Sikov, Ed. Film Studies: An Introduction. New York: Columbia UP, 2010.


You will also be responsible for procuring copies of films not screened in class. All films in the course held in the library collections will be on reserve for SCAND 360 A – C LIT 315 C. Some films may be easiest to watch by purchasing on Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, or other streaming sources.

All course readings and other material will be available on the course Canvas Page.


The scheme I’ll use for calculating your final grade will be the following:

  • Participation 10%
  • Quizzes 20 %
  • Study Questions 30 %
  • Final Paper 40 %


FILM VIEWING: With all of our films available in various media, including streaming, the course is transitioning to a new model of viewing. We will screen some films in class on Tuesdays. The reason is to give you the opportunity to view some films on the big screen, which is part of understanding film form. However, we will not have screenings of other films, but you will watch them on your own. Those films  will be available on 4-hr reserve in the Suzzallo Media Center, so that you can view them there. Some of the films are available for rental at Scarecrow Video (5030 Roosevelt Way NE). You may also choose to view the films via streaming files, which you attain yourself. The viewing material will be part of the quizzes.

READING: It is essential that you complete all readings, so that you are ready for discussion of the films and can understand the frame of reference for work in class. You should complete readings listed in the syllabus by the day on which they are entered. Be prepared to discuss and ask questions about the assigned texts. The reading material will be part of the quizzes. All readings not in the Sikov text will be uploaded to the course Canvas pages.

LECTURES AND “FLIPPED CLASSROOM”: The course has used extensive lecturing in the past to fill in its survey of Scandinavian cinema. This year the course moves away from that model to a blend of in-class lectures and in-class problem-based learning activities, familiar from the “flipped” classroom. That means that there will be lectures with clips mixed with activities. These activities will involve pair and group work with a written component. The written component may be done on a laptop, tablet, or phone. (Partner work is always OK, if you don’t have a device with you). I will record your flipped-classroom work by asking you to contribute it through threaded discussion on the course Canvas Page.

PARTICIPATION: A large part of the course is based on discussion and participation in in-class activities. I will evaluate your participation subjectively and on the basis of your submission in-class written activities and presentations. I award you a participation grade on that basis. I do not grade on attendance.  

QUIZZES: There will be three on-line quizzes given on the films, readings, lectures, and activities. You will take the quizzes online before class. The quizzes are open book. The quizzes’ due date is marked in the course schedule, and I will remind you about them in the class before they are due.

STUDY QUESTIONS: You must respond to all three study questions listed in the syllabus. Please answer each question with a one- to two-page answer. Study-question responses are due by 11:00AM on the day indicated in the syllabus. You will submit your study questions by uploading them the course webpage (Canvas)—which closes at the due date. I grade study questions on a pass/no-credit basis. When no response is submitted, or your answer is poor or careless (<2.6), I award no-credit. To earn a 4.0 for the study questions, you must receive a pass for three study questions; three passes merits a 3.0, one a 2.0 and zero a 0.0.

FINAL PAPER: The final paper will be an essay drawing on films and readings from the course, which I will evaluate by the criteria set out below. To receive credit it must be typed, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, with one inch margins, and at least six (6) but no more than eight (8) pages in length (including bibliography (MLA or Chicago Style). The paper will respond to one of several prompts I post on the course website by Thurs. May 26th. You must upload the paper to the course’s Canvas website by Tuesday, June 9th at 5PM.

Criteria for Evaluation:I will evaluate final-writing assignments according to the following questions. You can use this as a checklist to guide your drafting, proofreading, and revision:

  1. Is a clear and rich thesis the basis for the paper’s argument?
  2. Are the different paragraphs organized both internally and in relation to each other?
  3. Does the paper analyze in detail specific examples from the films and/or readings to support the argument?
  4. Does the paper use citations from the readings assigned to support and qualify the analysis, and include a bibliography?
  5. Does the paper employ key terms of film analysis in accurate and useful ways?
  6. Is the writing clear and error free?


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The Universiity of Washington is a community dedicated to learning. Ethical expectations of students belonging to the community are defined in the student conduct code ( Plagiarism, cheating, and disruptive behavior in class violate the code. Any violations of the code in connection with the course will result in referral to the university administration for appropriate action. Learn more about how to avoid plagiarism at (, or speak to me directly.  

GRADES ERROR POLICY: If you believe an error has affected your grade, you may ask for a change of grade by following the policy below. If you do not follow the policy, I will not consider your request.

  1. Wait at least twenty-four hours, but no more than forty-eight hours from the time you receive the grade to send an email to me with the subject line SCAND CINEMA: GRADE ERROR and a brief statement summarizing the error.
  2. I will reply to your request within 24 hours



Course Schedule

Week 1:          From the Beginnings to a Golden Age (1895-1924)


Study Question #1: Is nature a character in Sir Arne’s Treasure?How? Explain how nature is or is not a character, using examples to make your point.




Sir Arne’s Treasure (Herr Arnes peningar, S, 1918, Mauritz Stiller) 106 min., Svensk filmindustri




In-Class Activities: 1) Course Introduction 2) The Golden Age of Scandinavian Silent Cinema


Read: Sikov, Film Studies: An Introduction, 1-4; “Reading a Film Sequence” and “Glossary of Terms for Film Analysis” (Canvas); Tytti Soila -“Nordic National Cinemas,” and “The Conditions of the Industry” (Canvas)



Study Question #1 due (exceptionally) at 5PM, Friday 4/3




Week 2:          Carl Th. Dreyer (DK, Active Career 1919-1964)




View: The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’arc, 1928, F/DK Dreyer)


Read: Sikov, 5-23; Carl Dreyer Interview (Canvas)



In-Class Activity: 1) The Iconoclast, Carl Th. Dreyer  (Lecture) 2) Analyzing Dreyer’s mise-en-scene

Read: Sikov, 24-54 (Mise-en-scene)




Week 3:          The Scandinavian Studio Film, 1930s-1950s




View: Death is a Caress (Døden er et kjærtegn, N, 1949, Edith Carlmar)

Read: Nestingen, Nordic Noir, The Human Criminal on Canvas



In-Class Activities: 1) How to Analyze a Studio Film; 2) Analyzing Examples of Scandinavian Studio Films


Read: Read: Sikov 55-73 (Cinematography & Editing)

View: The Scandinavian Studio Film - Lecture (Canvas)


Quiz #1 closes 11 AM



Week 4:          Ingmar Bergman (S, Active Career 1944-1982)


Study Question #2: How do Ingmar Bergman’s films integrate abstract question into their stories? Drawing on at least one example, explain how one of Bergman’s films is about more than its story.




In-Class Activities: 1) Who is Ingmar Bergman?; 2) Analysis of The Seventh Seal


Read: “Bergman Essay” on Canvas

View at Home: The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet, 1957, Ingmar Bergman, S)



In-Class Activities: 1) Ingmar Bergman as Auteur 2) Analysis of Persona

View at Home: Persona (1968, S, Ingmar Bergman)

Read: Sikov, 116-128 (Authorship); Bordwell, “The Art Cinema as a Mode of Historical Practice”


Study Question #2 Due





Week 6:          The Heritage Film, 1980s-2000s




In-Class Activity: 1) The Sami and Cultural Revitalization; 2) Pathfinder as Heritage Cinema


View at Home: Pathfinder (Ofelas, 1987, N, Dir. Nils Gaup) 82 min.

Read: Dubois, Pathfinder article



In-Class Activity: 1) Is Together Heritage Cinema? 2) Analysis of Together


View at Home: Together (Tillsammans, 2003, Lukas Moodysson, S)

View: The Heritage Film (Lecture on Canvas)




Week 6:          Multicultural Scandinavia




In-Class: 1) Multiculturalism and Scandinavia; 2) Play and Race


View at Home: Play (Ruben Ostlund, 2009, S) (Canvas)

Read: Sikov 103-115 (narrative structure)



No Class Meeting


View at Home: Easy Money (Snabba Cash, 2012, Daniel Espinosa, S)


Quiz #2 Closes 11AM



Week 7:          High-Impact Films 1990s-2010s




In-Class Activities: 1) Scandinavian Cinema as a High-Impact Cinema; 2) Analysis of Oslo, August 31


View at Home: Oslo, August 31(N, 2009) 96 min., Dir. Joachim Trier

 View: High-Impact Cinema (Lecture)



In-Class Activities: 1) Elements of Susanne Bier’s films; 2) Analysis of In a Better World


View at Home: In a Better World (Haevnen, Susan Bier, 2010, DK)

Read: Sikov, 129-142 (performance)


  Week 8:        Aki Kaurismäki (Active Career 1980s-2010s)






The Man Without a Past, (Mies vailla menneistyyttä, 2002, Aki Kaurismäki), 94 min., Sputnik Oy


Read: Sikov, 74-88 (Sound)



Lecture: 2) The Stories of Aki Kaursimäki 2) Analysis  of the Kaurismäki style


View at Home: The Match Factory Girl (Tulititkkutehtaan tyttö, 1990, SF, Dir. Aki Kaurismäki)




Week 9:          Lars von Trier (1980s-2010s)





The Boss of It All, (Direktøren for det hele. DK,2006, Dir. Lars von Trier), 99 min, Zentropa Productions

Read: Badley, excerpt from Lars von Trier



Lecture: Lars von Trier

Discussion: Who is the Boss of it all?

Read: Schepelrern, “Element of Crime and Punishment” 


Quiz #3 Closes 11AM




Week 10:        Genre and New Nordic Cinema, 1990s-2010s



Study Question #3: What are three genre elements in Rare Exports? In addition to identifying them, briefly explain how each element is used.





Rare Exports (2010, SF, Dir. Jalmari Helander) 84 min.,


 Read: Sikov, 143-157 (Genre)



In-Class Activities: Children, Cinema, Genre in Rare Exports; 2) Genre and New Nordic Cinema


Read: Sikov 169-186 (Model essay)

Study Question #3 Due



Final Paper due Tues., June 9, 2015, 5 PM

Hyvää kesää!

Glad sommar!

Catalog Description: 
Examines the cinema of a particular national, ethnic or cultural group, with films typically shown in the original language with subtitles. Topics reflect themes and trends in the national cinema being studied.
Department Requirements Met: 
Cinema Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
May 23, 2016 - 9:04am