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Danmarkshistorier: National Imagination and Novel in Late Twentieth Century Denmark

Thomson, CC; (2003) Danmarkshistorier: National Imagination and Novel in Late Twentieth Century Denmark. Doctoral thesis, University of Edinburgh. Green open access

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Abstract

Danmarkshistorier: National Imagination and Novel in Late Twentieth-Century Denmark C.C.Thomson, University of Edinburgh, 2003 This thesis centres on the contemporary Danish novel as a conduit for national imagining. Chapter one begins with a discussion of Benedict Anderson's account of the ability of novels to facilitate an imagining of the national community in time and space. Critical responses to Anderson's hypothesis are then situated in the context of late twentieth-century debates on the 'postnational' and 'posthistorical'. Recent Danish historiography attempts to negotiate national histories that recognise not only the contingency of established historical accounts but also their narrative nature, employing textual strategies such as resisting linear chronology and causality, historicising space and place, and fusing (individual) memory and (collective) history. Such texts, hybrid narratives between histories and stories of Denmark (or Danmarkshistorier), implicate a Danish national model reader who is alive both to the homogenising contemporary discourse of danskhed (Danishness) and to its self-ironising subversion. Contemporary Danish literature, it is argued, shares this concern with what Bhabha identifies as the symbiosis of nationalist historical pedagogy and narrative performance. Chapters two to four focus on three novels which map out the Danish experience of the twentieth century and sit at the intersection of the genres which have marked Danish literature in the 1990s: the punktroman and the encyclopedic novel. Thus all three texts explore temporalities alternative to Anderson's interpretation of Benjamin's 'homogenous empty time', and they construct shifting textual communities of national subjects predicated on the liminalities of cultural identities, on the boundaries between historical fact and fiction, and on the tension between privileged and marginal forms of narrative. In chapter two, Peter Høeg's Forestilling om det tyvende århundrede (1988) is discussed as an anthropological novel which pastiches postcolonial and magical realist writing to critique the longing for order inherent in national historiography and fiction. Peer Hultberg's Byen og verden (1992) is read, in chapter three, as a spatial history of a community in which local, national and global places and times of belonging can coalesce. Chapter four examines the configurations of individual and collective memory, trauma and event, the epochal and the everyday in Vibeke Grønfeldt's I dag (1998). The thesis concludes with a discussion of the novels in question as sites of textual memory, in which 'postnational' spacetimes, including the term of the millennium and the glocal, can be negotiated.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Danmarkshistorier: National Imagination and Novel in Late Twentieth Century Denmark
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Keywords:Danish literature, postmodern novel, historiography, national identity
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of EU Langs, Culture and Society

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