Members and projects


Project description: The body and its interaction with the environment

An interest in the body and its interaction with the environment is the starting point for this research project. Such interaction is formulated both in literature and in art, and the focus of the project is on 20th century writers and artists. The specialisation is a development of my 1999 doctoral dissertation, “The Grotesque:  Body Language and the Body of Language in Swedish Lyrical Modernism”, which focuses on the direct relation of the body to the environment.

Contact: Ingemar Haag


MAGNUS JANSSON (Ph D, Senior Lecturer)

Project description: Literary environmental impact

In this project, I intend to examine ways in which fictional representations of a region or a landscape affect the physical environment and people’s relation to the represented landscape. I would like to move beyond a perspective of reception and aesthetics only, and try to apply an interdisciplinary approach on the basis of ecocritical notions. I am primarily interested in the mid-Swedish “region” Bergslagen and its many identities and uncertain boundaries.

Contact:  Magnus Jansson



Project description: Animal and Environmental Agency in American Literary Naturalism.

This project proposes an investigation into and an analysis of the represented behaviour and narrative agency of non-human characters such as non-human animals and nature, in texts by the American literary naturalists.

Although the American naturalists, here represented by Crane, Norris, Glasgow and London, wanted to be scientific in representing the environment, and took great care in describing animals and nature, the presence and impact of these characters have gone largely unnoticed in traditional literary scholarship. Literary elements like these have been seen as mere background to an anthropocentric narrative, and in most cases, have not been recognized as characters at all.

The behaviour and agency of non-human characters in a representative selection of American naturalist texts will be analyzed  using a combination of theoretical tools from ecocriticism, animal theory, ethology and narrative theory, which will enable an investigation, not only of the literary treatment of non-human behaviour,  cognitive processes and agency, but also into the relationship between naturalistic animal behaviour (verified as such by ethological studies) and non-human narrative agency  in a segment of American literature.

The significance of this project is twofold: it will deliver new insights into an under-researched aspect of American literature, and contribute to the development of literary theory in the intersection of narrative theory, ecocriticism and animal studies.

Contact:  Karin Molander Danielsson


THORSTEN PÄPLOW (Ph D, Senior Lecturer)

Project description: Place, Poetry and Poetics: The Mines-of-Falun-Motif in German Literature since early 19th Century

In 1719 the perfectly preserved body of a miner, who had died 42 years earlier, was found in the mines of Falun. On being brought up to the surface the body started to disintegrate rather quickly. For obvious reasons, this occurrence attracted a lot of interest at the time and, although the story of the Falun-miner seems to have reached the German speaking areas with a ninety year delay, also inspired a considerable number of literary adaptations. For the last 200 years it has been a theme or motif in German literature that has received quite a lot of critical attention. One aspect that has been consistently overlooked or underestimated in these scholarly reading is the importance of place for the different adaptations, accounts or texts in German literature. Questions of place and poetics of place will be the main focus of this project.


Marie Öhman (Ph D, Docent, research group manager)

Project description: What is (the) Matter?: Conceptualisations of Technology, Materiality and Cognition in Contemporary Nordic Literature.  

This project explores conceptualizations of materiality and discourses on cognition within the natural sciences and the humanities, how they relate to each other, and how they are reflected in cultural representation.The purpose of the project is to explore literary reflections of a changed conceptualisation of materiality and cognition, to relate this change to theories and perspectives assembled under the concept of new materialism, and by that take part in an ongoing discussion about the implications of technological advancement.

The relationship between Man and technology is a matter of longstanding debate. Philosophers have discussed technology’s ontological status in relation to human nature, contending whether it is an artefact or a natural object, whether it is a tool in the hands of Man or following its own laws, whether it is imitating or complementing (human) nature. The development and use of technology has ambiguously been considered as alternately required and necessary for human enhancement and mastery over nature and a hubristic threat that easily turns against us: like Ikaros’ wings and Prometheus’ fire, like Frankenstein’s monster, and the Terminator, technology has always been sensed as inhabiting simultaneous potential and danger.  

These assumptions, fears and ontological questions have gained renewed topicality in recent years by a massive development in the field of new technology, concretised in everyday life by the increasing presence of various types of artificial intelligence and society’s all-embracing digitalisation process. What will robots, algorithms, and big data actually encompass for the sociocultural, environmental, and biological landscape of our lives in the future? While their most commonly anticipated, and consequently discussed, effect concerns economic progress and societal transformation, there is reason to believe that a less palpable and immediate, although significant and revolutionary, effect concerns the fact that new technology will change our conceptualisation of materiality and cognition - the groundwork of the dualistic conception of the world that most of our identity as well as our social and institutional practices rely on. What are the conceptual and ethical implications of technical devices, more intelligent than, and as autonomous as us, replacing the individual, differentiated human subject? 

Contact:  Marie Öhman



ANNACARIN BILLING (Ph D, Senior Lecturer)

Project description: Environment and modernity. Nature in Swedish literature 1960-1990.

The project aims to examine how nature is represented in a number of Swedish writers’ descriptions of the advent of modernity in Sweden. Some key questions: What is the relationship between humanity, nature and culture? Is there a conflict between the environment and modernity? Are the narratives affected by the growth of political activism – especially the environmental movement? The initial study of the project deals with Kerstin Ekman’s Katrineholm series, but future studies will focus on other Swedish writers, such as Sara Lidman, Sven Delblanc and Stig Claesson

Contact:  AnnaCarin Billing


Henrik Otterberg, (fil. dr) 

Contact:  Henrik Otterberg


STURE PACKALÉN (Ph D, Professor Emeritus)

Project description: In dialogue with nature – Sarah Kirsch

Kirsch writes poetry about a natural world that is fighting for its survival. Nature is always worth protecting in her work. In the natural world that she portrays, humans are not the ones who rule, nor the ones who are ruled, but a part of nature. Consequently, in Kirsch’s work culture is part of nature. ”As nature in its own way communicates with us…” – as Kirsch writes – she communicates in her way with nature and describes the close-knit web of connections between nature and humanity. The movement in nature that Kirsch observes often parallels what is going on in society, at the same time as internal phenomena are reflected in external ones. Kirsch’s poetry involves an explicit symbiosis between nature and humanity. In terms of Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue, her relation to nature can be considered a true dialogue, an ongoing conversation with a YOU. This is a situation in which answers and responsibilities are closely connected. True dialogue is the opposite of a situation of exploitation, in which nature, in Buber’s terms, is considered an IT, an unresponsive object. The purpose of my project is to try to show how the distinction between nature and culture is sometimes suspended, how nature and culture interact, and how the dialogical communication between nature and humanity is expressed in Kirsch’s poetry and prose.