Profiles

Ulf Olsson

Ulf Olsson

Professor i litteraturvetenskap

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Email ulf.olsson@littvet.su.se
Visiting address Frescativägen 26
Room 416
Postal address Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

About me

I am a professor emeritus of literary studies and also work as a writer of essays as well as literary critic for daily paper Expressen.

 

Research

My research is mostly concerned with modern Swedish literature from August Strindberg to Birgitta Trotzig and Lars Norén. However, I have also published on Western literature in a more general sense, investigating forms of linguistic violence and coercion in writers such as Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Robert Musil, Peter Handke, and others: see my Silence and Subject in Modern Literature: Spoken Violence (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2013). My latest book is on the American rock group The Grateful Dead; there I try to understand both the political and aesthetic works of the band, with musical improvisation as its centre. Key concepts of this book, Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation (Oakland: University of California Press 2017), are culture industry, self-organization, counter-conduct, and others. I am now working on my third book, in Swedish, on August Strindberg: this one addresses his late works. Starting off with Adorno’s concept of “Spätstil” [Late Style], I look at Strindberg as a “reactive” writer, always responding to exterior stimulus. Important works of Strindberg, such as The Occult Diary, the Chamber Plays, and A Blue Book, form the center of this study, in which I also investigate the growing presence of an administrative discourse in his works. The book, entitled Paradoxography: Strindberg’s Late Works, is due for publication in the fall of 2019. I am also very interested in and fascinated by Joseph Conrad’s works, and I work on it based on categories such as exile and state of emergency.

 

 

Publications in English

 

Books

Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation (Oakland: University of California Press 2017)

Silence and Subject in Modern Literature: Spoken Violence (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2013)

Articles

“Evil Freedom: Linguistic Confusion and Convention in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent,” in Languages of Exile: Migration and Multilingualism in Twentieth-Century Literature, ed. Axel Englund and Anders Olsson, New York: Peter Lang 2013, pp. 21-36                                          

”Learning to Speak: Strindberg and the Novel”, in The Cambridge Companion to August Strindberg, ed. Michael Robinson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2010

 

”Telephone. Notes on Communication Technology and Meaning in Strindberg’s Works”, in Strindberg and His Media. Proceedings of the 15th International Strindberg Conference, ed. Kirsten Wechsel, Edition Kirchhof & Francke: Leipzig und Berlin 2003

 

”Going Crazy: Strindberg and the Construction of Literary Madness”, in August Strindberg and the Other: New Critical Approaches, ed. P. Houe, S Rossel, G Stockenström, Amsterdam-New York 2002

 

”The Madness of Fiction: Psychiatry and Narrative in Strindberg’s Fadren”, in Strindberg and Fiction, ed. G. Rossholm, B. Ståhle Sjönell, B. Westin, Stockholm 2001

 

”The Bloodstained Sign: The problem of Expressivity in Strindberg’s Black Banners”, in Expressionism and Modernism: New Approaches to August Strindberg, ed. Michael Robinson, Sven Hakon Rossel, Wien 1999

 

”The greatest story ever told. Some remarks on the voice of narratology”, in C. Wahlin (ed.), Perspectives on Narratology, Frankfurt am Main 1996

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Ulf Olsson.

    Trots att August Strindberg fortfarande ter sig som svensk litteraturs stora namn, har hans sena verk ofta avfärdats som undermåliga. Paradoxografi syftar till en annan förståelse av dessa sena texter, deras egenheter och motsägelsefyllda karaktär. Istället för att läsa dem som behållare för reaktionära idéer och ideologier, i linje med forskningens återkommande betoning av idéer och världsbilder, undersöks hur skrivandets praktiker konstruerar ett subjekt. Författaren ses som ”reaktiv”: Strindberg reagerar närmast fysiologiskt på olika stimuli. Hans texterläses som apparater, vilka producerar vissa effekter. Återkommande inslag ärdagboksformen, listor, nonsens, fragmentering, anteckningen, kommentaren:effekter vilka blir oerhört viktiga i 1900-talets litteratur. Centrala verk iundersökningen är Ockulta dagboken, En blå bok I-IV, de språkvetenskapligaarbetena, men också verk av mer traditionell skönlitterär karaktär (Ensam, Syndabocken). Dessa sena texter har gemensamma drag i den ofta taggiga stilen, i försöken att underminera den rationella vetenskapens ordningar: Strindberg skriver en paradoxografi. Därigenom formulerar han viktiga aspekter av de samhälleliga möjlighetsvillkor som litteraturen möter under modernismens era. Samtidigt skriver Strindberg i en tilltagande medvetenhet om att döden väntar, och delar av de sena verken kan läsas som studier i ”konsten att dö”: som försök att rädda ett subjekt som samtidigt ifrågasätts av skrivandets moderna praktiker.

Show all publications by Ulf Olsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 25, 2020

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