Author Archives: drclairethomson

Happy new year from Copenhagen


I’m lucky enough to be spending the year on research sabbatical at the Danish Film Institute, but while everyone else is busy with the first day of term at UCL I’ve grabbed the microphone to circulate a few bits and bobs.

Most importantly, just in case you haven’t seen it yet, the provisional programme for Nordicana (1-2 February) is out, and features lots of big names, exciting conversations (not least with our great Book Club friend Barry Forshaw), screenings, and Nordic food and drink:

Over here, the post-new-year conversation around the water cooler (well, actually, round the coffee machine – this is Denmark after all) has been all about a new drama serial called Arven efter Veronika. The series has already been bought by UK television, as per this report in The Guardian, and it looks as though the title in English will be The Legacy. As you would expect, the characters are complex and the basic premise is simple but ingenious….so that’s something to look forward to after The Bridge.

We’ve been having an unusually mild winter while our North American friends shiver, but I’ve been enjoying a new documentary series on Norwegian channel NRK called Brøyt i vei. It’s all about the snow plough service which keeps Finnmark on the move in winter. Fascinating characters, gorgeous landscapes, and often gently funny. I think we should start a campaign to persuade BBC4 to buy this series! If you understand Norwegian, you may be able to follow it here.

Finally, if anyone is in or around Edinburgh (and a bit of a documentary geek like me), I’ll be screening and introducing some short Danish documentaries and art films from the 1940s-60s at the Danish Cultural Institute on Doune Terrace, Thursday 6 February, in the evening. More details will be available soon at this link.

Godt nytår / happy new year!



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Two events 11-12 May: Something Else for the Weekend

Hej! We have two events coming up, and Nordic Noir will loom large in both of them.

On Saturday 11 May, 2-3pm, enjoy a virtual tour of Crime Scenes and Cycle Paths: Copenhagen’s Hidden (Hi)stories. We’ve been working with UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) to make a multi-layered map of Copenhagen that reveals some sites, sights and stories you may not have witnessed in the literature and television of the city.  You can contribute to the map by telling us about your favourite places in Copenhagen. You can leave a comment below, or tweet @scandstudies using the hashtag #copenmap. Deadline: Wednesday 1 May! Tak!

On Sunday 12 May, 2-3pm, join us for a panel discussion on Welfare, Literature and the Body: Nordic Perspectives. Panelists include our very own Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Dominic Hinde (phd student, translator, journalist, Scottish green politico, and an editor of Post Mag), and others tbc. This panel discussion and Q&A explores the welfare state in the Nordic countries, focusing on how literary fiction has functioned as a space in which ideas about society, justice, welfare and well-being could be debated and developed. Of special interest is the human body: how have Scandinavian novels, poems, plays and even films represented the body – male or female, healthy or sick, infant or aging, working or playing – as  building, challenging, and benefiting from the welfare state? We’ll be using exciting new voting pod thingummies (that’s the technical term) to enable audience participation.

The venue for both events is the Ground Floor Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, Malet Place, London, WC1E 7JE [click here for a map and transport information]

Both events are free – no need to book, just come along! The first sixty attendees will be able to enjoy complimentary coffee and biscuits.SomethingElsefortheWeekend

These events are part of Something Else for the Weekend, 2 days of hands-on activities around the theme of Reading, giving festival-goers the chance to get up close and personal with UCL research. There are lots of fascinating exhibits and activities, from travel writing about toilets to learning difficulties to fairy tales, and it’s all free! For more information, please visit



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Literature, justice and forgiveness

Nordic Noir discussions have often touched on the role of Scandinavian crime literature in dissecting concepts such as justice, catharsis, forgiveness, and other crucial issues for humanity. These lectures will not focus on crime fiction, but may be of interest for their focus on the power of literature to shape and reflect collective norms. All welcome – no need to book – please join us!

The venue for all four lectures is the Ramsey Lecture Theatre, Christopher Ingold Chemistry Building, 20 Gordon Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0AJ.

Four lectures by Leverhulme Visiting Professor Svend Erik Larsen

Leverhulme Lecture I: Wednesday 16 January, 6pm, G21 Christopher Ingold Building

Forgiveness after Religion: Radical Wrong-Doing & Cultural Norms

The idea of radical wrongdoing changed when Christianity lost its grip on cultural norms, and forgiveness acquired a new role in literature and culture. Followed by a wine reception hosted by the School of European Languages, Culture and Society.

Leverhulme Lecture II: Wednesday 6 February, 6pm, G21 Christopher Ingold Building

Don Juan, Lear & Figaro: Reinventing Forgiveness

Tragedy and comedy feed on the transgression of norms and its consequences for human life. When they change, new visions of humanity emerge together with new role of forgiveness.

Leverhulme Lecture III: Wednesday 13 March, 6pm, G21 Christopher Ingold Building

Where Forgiveness does not Exist

Cultures before or outside Christianity take issue with radical wrongdoing in other ways than the Western tradition, questioning the universal status of forgiveness.

Leverhulme Lecture IV: Wednesday 24 April, 6pm, G21 Christopher Ingold Building

The Limits of Forgiveness: Writing Reconciliation in South Africa

Many South African writers have discussed the limits of the bold attempt to use forgiveness as an instrument to national reconciliation.

Professor Svend Erik Larsen (Aarhus Universitet, Denmark) has been awarded a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship to spend January-June 2013 based at UCL Scandinavian Studies. He will be delivering four Leverhulme Lectures, leading Masterclasses for postgraduate students, and helping launch a new collaboration between UCL Scandinavian Studies, Dutch and SSEES: Learning from Small Nations. For more information, please contact Dr Claire Thomson (

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Guardian readers’ queries answered

Readers of The Guardian may have spotted a follow-up to Jesper’s recent Danish language for Killing fans video. Readers were encouraged to post queries about Danish culture, politics, language, etc., and these were answered by a multidisciplinary team of staff and students from UCL Scandinavian Studies. The Q+As are here. We’re now discussing how to mark the long-awaited return of Borgen in January…

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Danish language for The Killing fans

For those of you looking forward to the new series of The Killing, starting on BBC4 tomorrow evening, have a look at this short film with a crash course in Danish, featuring Jesper Hansen (with obligatory Forbrydelsen-style sweater) from the UCL Scandinavian Studies. Co-starring our departmental Polar Bear Skull.

Full details here:


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Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at a special secret location…

Fans of Scandinavian drama may want to snap up tickets for a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House – performed by [Foreign Affairs] at a special pop-up location in the West End. These will be the first performances of translator Paul Russell Garrett‘s fresh new English translation of this classic play. This is a very short run: 20-24 November only. There’s something very special about this theatre company – not to be missed! Click here for more information about the company and production or click straight through to buy tickets from WeGotTickets.

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Icelandic crime at Day-for-Night Nordic Film festival

Sunday 2 December brings a relatively rare chance to see the Icelandic film adaptation of Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel Mýrin (Jar City) on the big screen.

Sun 2 Dec, 6.45pm – Riverside Studios

JAR CITY I Baltasar Kormakur, Iceland/Germany/Denmark 2006,  91 mins, cert 15

Inspector Erlendur investigates the death of an elderly man. His only clues: a picture of a girl’s grave and a cryptic note. Meanwhile, mystery surrounds a grieving father working on a revolutionary research facility, attempting to make sense of his daughter’s death. Erlendur has to battle with a complex and disturbing case whilst all the time facing his own personal demons in this complex and gripping thriller.

The screening is part of an exciting new Nordic Film festival in London, taking place from 30 November to 5 December 2012 at Riverside Studios, Ciné lumière, and the Prince Charles Cinema. The Nordic Film Festival brings together a broad mix of independent films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, celebrating the best in Nordic filmmaking past and present. Highlights include:

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED – by Oscar®-winning director Susanne Bier. Opening gala + party, 30 Nov @ Ciné lumière

FESTEN – Thomas Vinterberg’s highly acclaimed debut and first film of the avant-garde Dogme95 movement, 1 Dec @ Riverside Studio

BABETTE’S FEAST – special preview of this ‘culinary classic’ ahead of its BFI re-release, 3 Dec @ Ciné lumière

PURE – UK premiere closing gala, starring Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina), 5 Dec @ Riverside Studios + party

Full programme, ticket links and information at:

And see also: | @nordicfilmfest |

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