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Nordic Orientalism explores the appropriation of Oriental imagery within Danish and Norwegian nineteenth-century nation-building. The project queries Edward Said’s binary notion of Orientalism and posits a more complex model describing how European countries on the periphery – Denmark and Norway – imported Oriental imagery from France to position themselves, not against their colonial Other, but in relation to central European nations. Examining Nordic Orientalism across a century in the context of modernization, urbanization and democratization the study furthermore shows how the Romanticists’ naive treatment of the Orient was challenged by increased contact with the "real" Orient.
Elisabeth Oxfeldt has worked in the position of Danish Lecturer at the University of Oslo since 2002. She has lived in the US for 18 years and holds a BA in French literature as well as an MA and Ph.D. in Scandinavian literature from U.C. Berkely.
"Det er i sig selv interessant at følge hvordan, efter [Elisabeth Oxfeldts] mening, den orientalske eksotik skifter fortegn set gennem århundredets faser af enevælde, demokratisering og storbymodernitet. Mest interessant er dog hendes over all tese, som også er hendes pointe mod Edward Said og opfattelsen af den orientalistiske diskurs som en binær herredømmediskurs."
- Marie-Louise Svane, Edda, nr. 1/07
"One of the aspects that make Oxfeldt's study stand out as interesting and relevant beyond the field of Scandinavian studies is the fact that she looks at the colonial 'Other' and the Orient as culturally-mediated phenomena [...].
Elizabeth Oxfeldt is well equipped for this difficult arena of study, which on the one hand is overcrowded by theorists with a political mission, and on the other hand is still looked down upon by many Scandinavian scholars. Oxfeldt clearly has had a firm theoretical training and she has developed remarkable bilingual skills, writing in an eloquent and rhetorically very efficient English, and showing impressive understanding of (more or less antiquated) Danish and Norweigan texts [...]
Oxfeldt's outspoken eclecticism and daring combinations bear abundant fruit, for example in her approach to Ibsen's Peer Gynt when new perspectives are opened by involving Ibsen's own Egyptian travelogue Abydos in the analysis as well as a number of newspaper articles about the World Exhibition [...]
Oxfeldt offers a more than solid scholarly contribution to the vast amount of predominantly Anglo-Saxon theoretical literature on the main topics of this book, and that in itself makes this book of great importance to anyone who wants to work on Orientalism in 19th Century Scandinavia [...] it is a necessary, admirable, compelling and a thought-provoking book."
- Henk van der Liet, Universiteit van Amsterdam, TijdSchrift voor Skandinavistiek, vol. 28 (2007), nr. 1.
"This is an intelligently conceived and elegantly written book that sets out to distinguish the ways in which Orientalism functioned in the common literary and cultural imagination shared by Denmark and Norway during the nineteenth century. [...] She (Oxfeldt) has offered a compelling argument regarding the changing status of Orientalism in the nineteenth-century literary tradition that Denmark and Norway share, and given an inspiring example of how analysis of popular cultural phenomena, such as entertainment parks, journalism, and world fairs, can enrich understanding of this literary tradition enormously."
- Ellen Rees, University of Oregon, Scandinavica, vol. 46, no. 1, May 2007
"timely and of multiple interest [...] an ambitious and important contribution to the fields of Scandinavian literature and cultural studies dealing with nationalism and nation-building. It it higly recommended."
- Marina Allemano, University of Alberta, Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 79, Issue 1, Spring 2007
"Oxfeldts Studie ist ein echter Gewinn für die Forschung. Zum einen rekonstruiert sie aus oft behandelten Texten einen durchgehenden diskursiven Strang, der in dieser Weise noch nie thematisiert wurde. Dies zeugt von einer mit Originalität gepaarten Abstraktionsfähigkeit, ohne dass das ein Jahrhundert umspannende Forschungsmaterial unzulässig verieinheitlicht wird. [...] Aufgrund all dieser Vorzüge wird Nordic Orientalism für lange Zeit eine zentrale Stellung in der skandinavistischen postkolonialen Forschung einnehmen."
- Joachim Schiedermair, skandinavistik, Jahrgang 36, Heft 2, 2006.
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