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Literary studies have an indispensable place at a department that offers education and conducts research within many language and cultural areas. Our literary scholars, active within English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, have an interest in international authorships and in a large number of genres and modes spanning from the medieval period until today.

Several researchers are interested in didactic aspects: how literature is used in the classroom. We commonly work in individually designed projects, but are often joined by theoretical or methodological approaches, and the higher seminar constitutes a dynamic research environment.

Below you can read more about the areas our researchers are active within.

Genre, form and language

The materials we work with include most classical and popular genres and media formats: Victorian novels, travelogues, medieval religious writings, historical and contemporary advice books, speculative fiction, gothic fiction, and crime fiction, disseminated in written form, film or television.

Historical and contemporary sources and several language areas mean possibilities to examine how texts move between different eras and cultures, for example via analyses of translation processes comprising not only the actual text, but also cultural structures. How different forms of texts generate new versions is also an area of interest, as is how both local and global themes and structures function, transform and evolve.

Several researchers are well-established within the field of crime-fiction, and then especially within the sub-category Nordic Noir. In particular, discussions pertain to questions of abuse and the link between the crime-genre and the dismantling of the Swedish welfare state.

The interest in what happens in the meeting between a narrative and its readers or viewers, and how this meeting can result in different types of participatory activities, is visible in several researchers' work within fan studies, with special attention paid to fan fiction. Fan fiction starts from, or enters into a dialogue with an already existing fictional universe. Fanfic authors fill in background, develop gaps in the narrative, or counter the original story all together. Fanfics are published online and readers are free to comment, which means an additional interpretative step. Our researchers contribute knowledge about this dynamic text form and the role it plays in the literary landscape of today.

Gender, sexualities and queer studies

A gender perspective is included in the majority of our projects and discussions often start from the view of gender as a social construct. Our researchers work with fiction from different eras, and examine how power relationships between characters is often linked to an implicit gender structure, despite that many such works on the surface appear to problematize traditional conceptual categories. Non-fiction is also used as empirical material in discussions about how gender norms are negotiated and altered.

Gender, feminist and masculinity studies are applied in analyses of what is represented as male, female and queer in literature, and several researchers have a specific focus on images of father- and motherhood, of family constellations, and of children, and highlight discourses that have determined and determine what is perceived as ideal or "natural" characteristics, as well as how these cultural constructions can be questioned. The gender coding of geographical places are also analyzed, often with a focus on forms of resistance against categorization.

Speculative fiction

The imagined future interests many of us and literature plays a key role not only as a test bed for innovations and new societies, but also as documentation of both past and present fears and hopes. Ethical questions connected to images of future societies, and how fiction can encourage critical reflection of contemporaneity, are questions that engage several researchers.

From different starting points, we examine how dystopias or apocalypses are represented in fiction. Analyses are often focused on how, real-world global developments have consequences for the environment, and how this is relayed in different text forms from popular culture horror to ecopoetry. Another line of enquiry focuses on the effect the apocalypse has on the construction of societies, communities and human relationships.

Place and environment

Both literal and figurative places are examined from a number of perspectives. There is a broad interest in travelogues from different time periods and cultures, and our researchers also analyze images of particular geographical areas. Place can also be perceived of as more abstract, for example as a trope in poetry, and this area also encompasses projects that in various ways deal with spatial and temporal movements.

Representations of the North and the Arctic in expedition narratives and fiction have been and continue to be prominent in the Department's research. Some of our researchers have examined the conceptualization of "north" and "northerness" from a historical perspective, a conceptualization which varies greatly depending on the location and cultural sensibility of who is writing.

But we also look at more delimited places such as the home in Victorian literature, and confined spaces and labyrinths in the Gothic. In these discussions, place acquires a special meaning as characters move through places or from one place to another, movements that have consequences for identity, belonging or alienation.

Several ongoing studies at the department have a connection with the green humanities. Through eco-critical readings of fiction and poetry, we highlight both place-specific and global consequences of human influence on nature, in particular in the form of anthropogenic climate change. Our researchers also investigate how climate fiction gesture to older forms of religion.

The body, affect and cognition

We analyze how fiction in different genres and media depict both human and other-than-human bodies, often with a strong connection to gender and sexualities.

Our studies are often interdisciplinary and literary approaches are enriched by results from, for example, history of medicine, religion, and neurobiology.

Among our research areas are mental and physical illness and the cultural meaning thereof in different time periods, how sensory and bodily effects and conditions affect not only characters but also readers, and how cognitive abilities are employed to navigate narratives and fill in the gaps all texts necessarily contain.


An important part of our commitment as researchers is to be part of a dialogue with actors outside the university. As literary researchers within an array of language areas, and with competencies within a number of theoretical, methodological and, not least, empirical areas, we would like to be a part of wider conversations about norms, values and discourses that have influenced and influence what it means to be human.

Museums, organizations and associations of various kinds (regional, national, and international) are arenas where the department's literary researchers have had the opportunity to disseminate their findings, and we continually take part in events directed at the public, as well as in public debates, to convey results and awaken thoughts. Through reviews and book talks, we also contribute to discussions. Questions about identity, gender, the environment and the future can be deepened and nuanced in these kinds of conversations and our research is enriched by queries from other organizations and fellow human beings.

Please get in touch with our researchers directly if you have an interest in initiating a dialogue, or contact Maria Lindgren Leavenworth.

Our researchers

Lara Rodríguez Sieweke (PhD, English literature)
Elena Glotova (Senior research assistant, English literature)
Katarina Gregersdotter (Associate Professor, English literature)
Heidi Hansson (Professor, English literature)
Malin Isaksson (Assistant Professor, French literature)
Virginia Langum (Professor, English literature)
Mareike Jendis (Assistant Professor, German literature)
Van Leavenworth (Assistant Professor, English literature)
Maria Lindgren Leavenworth (Professor, English literature)
Elena Lindholm (Associate Professor, Spanish literature)
Fariba Majlesi (PhD, English literature)
Giuseppe Nencioni (Associate Professor, Italian literature)
Juanita Vélez Olivera (PhD, Spanish literature)
Aleksei Semeneko (Associate Professor, Russian literature)
Florence Sisask (PhD, French literature)
Jenny Sperens (PhD, English literature)
Harini Vembar (PhD, English literature)
Berit Åström (Associate Professor, English literature)


Latest update: 2022-08-11