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Kyle Bjorem LS4050 Personal Inquiry Report Part I I have always wanted to investigate Scandinavian literature, so given this

s opportunity to investigate anything of my choosing I thought of the subject immediately. I decided to narrow it down a bit to just Norwegian since that is where my ancestors were from (my grandmother has the family tree figured out back hundreds of years). My last name was originally spelled Bjorheim which means bearhome in Old Norse, which leads into the first subject that I investigated: Norse Mythology. This is something that I have already some background knowledge in. Years ago I read the Crossley-Holland book as listed in my resources, and I remembered the basics and the main players like Thor, Odin, Loki, Freya, Baldur, etc. I got out that book (which I still owned) and re-read a couple of the more famous myths, but also looked at the Lindow book which is more of an index than the actual stories, and that helped me make sense of the stories in a more rich way. If I came across a name or a reference that I didnt know, I could look it up in the Lindow book. The Ragnarok or Apocalypse myth was especially interesting to me. Along with this, I read the introductory chapter to the Jones book on the Vikings, just get to a better idea of the people for whom these stories were so important. To die bravely in battle was the foremost thing you could possibly do with your life, and if you did so you got to live in the hall of the Gods (Valhalla). Moving on to philosophy, a subject which I have always loved and studied, I found out that the two most well-known Norwegian philosophers of more recent times are Arne Naess and Lars Svendson. One of Svendsons more popular books is A Philosophy of Boredom, which I

perused and read the introductory chapter to. In it he asks us to think of boredom as woven into the fabric of the modern condition and is especially concerned with a type of boredom which is not a question of idleness but rather of a loss of meaning. Svendsen identifies indifference rather than alienation as the condition that enables boredom. Maybe this all sounds boring itself to some people, but its something that made my reading list. Arne Naess, on the other hand, was a much worldlier philosopher. He was one of the very first Ecophilosophers and purveyors of Deep Ecology. Deep Ecology is described by Wikipedia as a contemporary ecological philosophy that recognizes an inherent worth of all living beings, regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs. The philosophy emphasizes the interdependence of organisms within ecosystems and that of ecosystems with each other within the biosphere. It provides a foundation for the environmental, ecology and green movements and has fostered a new system of environmental ethics. Naess was influenced deeply by 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whose tract Ethics is something that I have actually read portions of in the past. I investigated another book by someone named Naess as well, this being A History of Norwegian Literature. Looking over it, I feel immediately to a section on Knut Hamsun and Henrik Ibsen, both names that I have heard in the past but have not actually read. I thought it was odd that the section on them was combined and that it was so long. As it turns out, they are probably the two most famous literary figures in Norse history, Ibsen for drama and Hamsun for novels. And the two were not the biggest fans of each-other, apparently. There was a sort of a changing of the guard between them, Hamsun bringing more of a psychological realism to the literary scene and disparaging Ibsens dramas as phony and bourgeois. In their day, they were both hailed as greats, but now the feeling in Norway is much more sympathetic to Ibsen because Hamsun was a Nazi sympathizer, a prominent supporter of the German occupation of Norway

during World War II. He visited Hitler in Germany and even presented his Nobel Prize to Joseph Goebbels. After the war he was put under house arrest and eventually tried for treason (he was acquitted, but fined). Modern Norse literature begins with a deep connection to this time of Nazi occupation as one of the most revered books is The Death of the Adversary by Hans Keilson. Keilson wrote it during the occupation, as a Norwegian Jew. It is semi-autobiographical and deals with a young man who watches as an unnamed Adversary in Germany (Hitler) rises to power. The man tries to understand this phenomenon logically but continually fails, as it is not a logical situation in the least. Years later, Per Petterson wrote a book called To Siberia which is about a brother and sister on the run in Nazi occupied Norway. Another book written by Petterson, Out Stealing Horses, is one that I have read before, a few years ago. It is about an older man living in the remote countryside and remembering people and events from his past, a very subtle and enjoyable book. I feel as though I got a much better grasp on the important events and people in the history of Norse Literature through this project. Its something that to be truly knowledgeable about you would have to take an actual class on, and I definitely did not have nearly the time I would have liked to have during the course of this project between school, work, and interning. Part II I feel like I learned just as much about myself and how I go about research as I did about Norse Literature. I kept a detailed journal at first, but switched over to simple notes once I found out that we didnt have to turn it in. I began just wandering around the library and quickly became overwhelmed, I needed a plan. Im someone that needs a well-planned structure and

strategy of attack before going into a big paper or any sort of research type thing. And, as it turns out, I dont really go with whatever that first plan is. The way I operate is by starting with a series of stutter-steps and refinements to my plan until I have one that I feel satisfied with. I suppose this is how I have always been, but I didnt really become self-aware of it until now. So, how it started out was that I made a plan for what subjects I wanted to cover in my resources. Initially these were Ancient (myth, saga), Narrative Fiction (early, middle, modern), Philosophy, and Miscellaneous. I further refined this by assigning how many texts I would get from each category. Later, I did research on the internet using Wikipedia and Amazon to find what books exactly I would research, making sure that each of them were available at either KPL or Waldo. The way I did this was utilizing the conglomeration of information at Wikipedia, which will provide, for instance, a list of Norwegian Philosophers, and the interconnectivity of Amazon that has lists of books that are connected to whatever you are looking at currently. The background knowledge that I was working with was that I remembered some of the myths, had read Per Pettersons Out Stealing Horses, and have heard of Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun. Obviously then, all of these elements ended up being a part of the plan of research. I think that in any venture like this a student will always be looking for some sort of at least semisolid ground to get a footing on to start out. The importance of background knowledge was made abundantly clear to me as without using that as a starting point I dont know if I would have stuck with the subject. The amount of information is vast and I wouldnt have known where to start. Basically, what I was doing here, was arranging my research method into as if it were a class I were taking. I constructed a mini-syllabus of sorts, containing ten texts, and approached it

in a linear fashion beginning with the myths and ending with the contemporary writer Petterson. With this solid foundation (buttressed by things that I already had some background knowledge of) I felt a lot more comfortable and confident. This is something that I must remember for my teaching, giving clear and structured progressions towards goals while also paying close attention to what the students are bringing to the conversation from the get-go. After accumulating my texts, the rest was simply lead by the amount of time I had and what portions of the texts I had the most intrinsic interest in. I had to catch myself from spending too much time with the Svendson and Keilson, books, for instance. I definitely need to make time to read those completely. The most important thing that I figured out during this process was that I crave interconnection and a natural evolution of research and thinking. This means that one thing would lead naturally into another, much of the time. I could have jumped all over into different tangents but I really like it when things relate intimately. This is definitely something that I am going to apply to my classes. When one thing leads into another it is a much more rewarding process, youre building something from the ground up and when you are finished you have a whole system in which each part informs the other. It is not a collection of facts and concepts that are floating in a vacuum that you merely have to memorize. After all the research, I value the information that I gleaned about Norse Lit, but the more important thing was the realization of the inquiry methods that naturally occur and how I can utilize those in my class to make learning easier and more successful. Giving students autonomy (we had a lot of that in this project) and a clear plan of action with well-defined goals, allowing them to use their own personal background knowledge as a touchstone, and teaching in a manner in which concepts and skills evolve into one-another in a natural progression are all valuable techniques.

Resources A History of the Vikings Gwyn Jones The Norse Myths Kevin Crossley-Holland Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs John Lindow A History of Norwegian Literature - Harald S. Naess Knut Hamsun: Dreamer & Dissenter - Ingar Sletten Kolloen Ibsen: A Biography - Michael Leverson Meyer The Ecology of Wisdom: Writings by Arne Naess - Arne Naess, Alan Drengson (Editor) A Philosophy of Boredom - Lars Svendsen Out Stealing Horses Per Petterson The Death of the Adversary Hans Keilson Wikipedia.org Amazon.com

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