Anna Bohlin. Foto: Niklas Björling.

Anna Bohlin


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E7
Room E 610
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm


My research concerns the intervening space between literature and politics, primarily in Swedish modern literature from the 1850s to the 1920s. Gender theory, queer theory and postcolonial studies are the theoretical backgrounds that I find most interesting in studying ideas of women’s emancipation, the meaning of public voice in relation to corporeality and the notion of citizenship, as expressed in literary texts. My PhD thesis investigates the notion of voice, elaborated in literary texts of the 1920s by prominent Swedish feminist writers, in relation to women’s suffrage, finally granted to Swedish women in 1921.

Since the dissertation, I have mainly been working on Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865), a forerunner of the Women’s Movement, world-famous author of her time, traveller over three continents – and pioneer for the notion of the nation in Sweden.

My current project, Enchanting Nations: Commodity Market, Folklore and Nationalism in Scandinavian Literature 1830–1850, is funded by RJ, The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. The aim of the project is to break up the nationalism of today from within the history of nationalism itself. Fundamental issues - the distinguishing features of the nation, the Christian conception of the nation as an evolutionary step to unite humankind, Scandinavism, and indeed the very incentive to formulate a nation - prove nationalism of the early 19th century to be foreign to us. Literature was central to the way in which nationalism spread and evoked emotions. Popular authors like Bremer, Flygare-Carlén, Almqvist, von Knorring and Wetterbergh played a crucial role in the development of nationalism in Sweden. Nevertheless, these authors have not been investigated in the light of modern, critical theory. In a study of early Swedish nationalism, Finnish authors like Runeberg, Topelius and Sara Wacklin have to be taken into account, as well as Wergeland, Welhaven and Hanna Winsnes – Norwegian authors who had to relate to the personal union with Sweden.

We will explore the following research questions: What did the nation signify? What separates and what unites the idea of the nation in Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish literary texts? How are Christianity, Old Norse myth and folklore related to the concept of the nation? How is consumerism connected to national consciousness? How is citizenship understood in relation to gender? How is the tension between the individual and the nation portrayed? How does literature partake in engendering an affective economy of nationalism?

I'm also participating in a cross-disciplinary project concerning Jerusalem in Scandinavian cultures from the 12th century to the beginning of the 20th century, Tracing the Jerusalem Code: Christian Cultures in Scandinavia.


"Röstens anatomi. Läsningar av politik i Elin Wägners Silverforsen, Selma Lagerlöfs Löwensköldtrilogi och Klara Johansons Tidevarvskåserier", diss. Umeå, Bokförlaget h:ström – Text & Kultur: Umeå 2008

"Att synliggöra. Representation i ’En negerstat i staten’", "Tidskrift för genusvetenskap" 2010:3, pp. 96–100

"Roman, manifest, teori. Kommentar till Fredrika Bremer, Hertha", "Könspolitiska nyckeltexter I. Från äktenskapskritik till sexualupplysning 1839–1930", eds. Klara Arnberg, Fia Sundevall, David Tjeder, Makadam förlag: Stockholm & Göteborg 2012, pp. 63–67

"Den manliga frimodigheten. Gud och andra män hos Fredrika Bremer", "Kvinnorna gör mannen", eds. Kristina Fjelkestam, Helena Hill & David Tjeder, Makadam förlag: Stockholm 2013, pp. 310–342

"Estetisk beröring", preface to Klara Johanson, "Skenbart förspillda dagar. Aforismer och dagboksanteckningar", selection by Anna Bohlin, Jonas Ellerström & Elisabeth Mansén, ellerströms förlag: Lund 2013, pp. 7–23

"Att tänka med alla sinnen. Aforismen och K. J.", "Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap" 2013:2, pp. 49–59

"Husmodern – en listig bedragare. Tidevarvet och K. J.", "Nya röster. Svenska kvinnotidskrifter under 150 år", ed. Anna Nordenstam, Gidlunds förlag: Möklinta 2014, pp. 135–154

"Mårbacka: Larders, cow-houses and other spiritual matters", "Re-Mapping Lagerlöf: Performance, intermediality and European transmissions", eds. Helena Forsås-Scott, Lisbeth Stenberg & Bjarne Thorup Thomsen, Nordic Academic Press: Lund 2014, pp. 60–73

"Fredrika Bremer’s Concept of the Nation During her American Journey", "Ideas in History" 1–2:2013, pp. 43–70

"Att kyssa olivträd. Fredrika Bremer som ambivalent pilgrim till det Heliga Landet", "Fiktion och verklighet", eds. Lena Gemzöe & Anna Bohlin, Makadam förlag: Göteborg och Stockholm 2016


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Chapter Mårbacka
    2014. Anna Bohlin. Re-Mapping Lagerlöf, 60-73
  • 2016. Anna Bohlin. Samlaren 137, 58-86

    The Swedish novel of the 1840s as national cartography (Den svenska 1840-talsromanen som nationell kartografi)

    The Swedish novel of the 1840s maps the nation. Whereas the novels of the 1830s advocate a predominantly cultural nationalism, the nationalism in the novels of the 1840s connects to the national territory. Inspired by Franco Moretti, a map is used as an analytical tool marking out travel routes in Sweden and Norway in 15 novels by the best-selling authors Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865), Sophie von Knorring (1797–1848), Emilie Flygare-Carlén (1807–1892), and C.J.L. Almqvist (1793–1866). The map shows that the national territory is unevenly covered: most of the novels are set in the provinces surrounding the lake Vättern, possibly creating a new water centre for the nation, while Dalecarlia, later to become the ”core province” of Sweden, is still considered too wild and remote. Furthermore, the map shows that borders become the focus of attention as territory gains importance. Geography teaching is a recurrent theme in the novels, and the national map is even portrayed as the body of Mother Svea—national boundaries conjure up an eroticised unity, a body evoking love. Nevertheless, the imagined geographies connecting cultural nationalism to territory also have the paradoxical effect of constructing the provinces as separate national communities. Therefore, external as well as internal borders appear as important narrative sites. Nationalist thought at the beginning of the 19th century was often part of a liberal movement developing the idea of citizenship, and in these novels the borders instigate narratives of citizenship. The borders intensify the promises of the nation-state to the citizen: the border is the site where bodies that do not comply with societal norms can find a place to make their contribution to the nation. However, the border is also the site where citizenship is contested, as unstable law enforcement exposes the characters to lethal violence. 

  • 2016. Anna Bohlin, Caroline Haux. Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap (1), 65-69
Show all publications by Anna Bohlin at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 9, 2018

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