Scandinavian studies

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Map of Nordic countries

Scandinavian studies is an interdisciplinary academic field of area studies, mainly in the United States and Germany, that covers topics related to Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, including languages, literatures, histories, cultures and societies. The term Scandinavia mainly refers to Denmark, Norway and Sweden, although the term Scandinavian in an ethnic, cultural and linguistic sense also refers to the peoples and languages of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, and the Scandinavian-speaking (that is, Swedish-speaking) minority in Finland. Scandinavian studies does not exist as a separate field within Scandinavia or the Nordic countries themselves, as its scope would be considered far too broad to be treated meaningfully within a single discipline. The closest related field in Scandinavia would be the more narrow discipline of Nordic linguistics, which covers North Germanic languages. A major focus of Scandinavian studies is the teaching of Scandinavian languages, especially the three large languages Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.


Scandinavian studies principally focuses on Danish, Norwegian and Swedish philology, especially linguistics, history and cultural studies. Denmark, Norway and Sweden form Scandinavia according to the definition prevalent in Scandinavia itself and their majority peoples are Scandinavians in the ethnic sense who speak Scandinavian languages in the linguistic sense. Scandinavian studies usually also covers Icelandic and Faroese philology, and philology as it relates to the Swedish minority in Finland. The field is also home to research related to the Scandinavian diaspora as well as regions affected by Scandinavian colonialism.

In Germany Scandinavian studies (Skandinavistik) is defined as a subfield of Germanic languages, and covering Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Icelandic languages as well as accompanying literature and culture.

Universities offering education and performing research in Scandinavian studies are located throughout North America and in parts of Europe. Learned societies within the field include the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study (SASS) with its quarterly journal Scandinavian Studies, the International Association of Scandinavian Studies (IASS), and the Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada (AASSC). In 2010 and 2014, SASS and the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) held joint conferences.

The largest departments of Scandinavian studies in the United States are found at the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the University of California, Berkeley. University College London and the University of Edinburgh are home to the only extant full departments of Scandinavian studies in the UK, while other institutions, such as the University of Aberdeen, have specialized research institutions for Scandinavian Studies.

At some universities in the United States Scandinavian studies is placed in the same department as Baltic studies, although Baltic languages are entirely unrelated to Scandinavian languages and although the countries have very different histories and cultures, with Scandinavia being an affluent Germanic-speaking region that was part of western Europe, with the Baltic states formerly being part of Russia and the Soviet Union.[1][2]


  1. ^ "Scandinavian Studies | University of Washington". 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  2. ^ "Scandinavian and Baltic Studies University of British Columbia". Retrieved 2015-12-10.

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