Edinburgh Research Explorer

Bjarne Thomsen

(Former employee or visitor)

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Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Bjarne Thomsen offers supervisory expertise in modern and contemporary Scandinavian literature. His specialisms include: geocriticism and textual topography; nation, transnationalism and postnationalism in literature; concepts of centre and periphery in culture; Nordic geomodernism; literature and cinema; novel and travel writing; international transmission of Scandinavian literature. Students and projetcs currently supervised by Bjarne Thomsen: PhD in Scandinavian Studies: • Ian Giles, ‘Tracing the Transmission of Scandinavian Literature to the UK, 1917-2017’ (co-supervisor). • Ruairidh Tarvet, ‘Southern Jutland: The Linguistics of a Borderland. The Importance of Regional, National and Transnational Dimensions of Languages and Cultures in Contact’ (co-supervisor). • Barbara Tesio, ‘Reassessing The Angelic Avengers. A Gothic Tale of Dissent from Pierre Andrézel, Karen Blixen’s Emergency Voice’ (co-supervisor). PhD in Comparative Literature: • Laura Chapot, ‘Décadence, Dekadenz, Dekadens: An Interdiscursive Exploration of Decadence in German and Scandinavian Literature, Society and Culture at the Fin de Siècle’ (assistant supervisor). • Ida Hummel Gabrielsen, ‘Ethics in Self-Narration. Testing Postmodern Theorization with Autobiographical, Genre-Hybrid Literature’ (assistant supervisor). MSc by Research in Scandinavian Studies: • Anja Tröger, ‘Shaping the Immigrant Experience: Language and Geographies in Three Transcultural Norwegian Narratives, 2010–2015’ (principal supervisor). Students and projects supervised to completion: PhD in Scandinavian Studies: • Dominic Hinde, ‘Our Common, Contested Future: The Rhetorics of Modern Environment in Sweden’ (completed 2015) (co-supervisor). • Charlotte Berry, ‘Publishing, Translation, Archives. Nordic Children’s Literature in the United Kingdom, 1950-2000’ (completed 2013) (principal supervisor). • Steinvör Pálsson, ‘Linguistic Strategies in the Representation of Sexual Violence: Norwegian Narrative Perspectives’ (completed 2006) (principal supervisor). • C. Claire Thomson, ‘Danmarkshistorier: National Imagination and Novel in Late Twentieth-Century Denmark’ (completed 2003) (principal supervisor). • Dana Caspi, ‘Images of a Promised Land in Norwegian and Swedish Emigrant Novels’ (completed 2000) (principal supervisor). • Fiona Twycross, ‘Approaching Ragnarok: Use of Norse Mythology in Late Twentieth Century Scandinavian Literature’ (completed 1997) (principal supervisor).

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Literature, University of Edinburgh
Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, University of Copenhagen


  • Cand. Phil. in Scandinavian Literature (University of Copenhagen)
  • PhD (University of Edinburgh)

Research Interests

Bjarne Thomsen’s main research interests concern aesthetic, affective and ideological dimensions of place and space in modern Scandinavian literature, with a particular focus on the novel and on travel writing. His work explores topics such as the mapping and problematisation of nation space and its communities, the interrogation of notions of centre and periphery in narrative, the role of transnational thought in textual topography, and instances and modes of geomodernism.

Bjarne Thomsen’s work displays, moreover, interests in the relationship between national representation and international spread of culture, in questions of textual and cultural hybridity, and in culture’s capacity to translate itself to new genres, new media and new audiences. Thus, Bjarne Thomsen has an additional, but not disconnected research interest in Scandinavian silent cinema and its dialogic relationship with prestige literature as well as in early Scandinavian film criticism. In this field he has so far contributed a couple of papers and one book chapter.

He is also interested in and have published on Danish literary history and literary history writing more broadly, and he has written on working-class autobiographies.


Research activity

Bjarne Thomsen's research activity has its main focus on the aesthetic, affective and ideological construction of place and space in Scandinavian nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, including travel writing, with a particular emphasis on the negotiation of region, nation and transnationalism. In 2007 he published a monograph that explores national mapping and the role of national and transnational thought in the work of Swedish novelist and Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf. In a related research context he has investigated Hans Christian Andersen’s novelistic experimentation and his innovations in travel writing in a number of articles and papers and in a co-edited book of New Approaches (Norvik Press, 2007) to his work. His research on Lagerlöf and Andersen may be seen as contributions to the re-assessment of two Scandinavian cultural figures of world literature status, highlighting (proto-)modernist aspects of their work as well as reductive patterns in their reception history. The scrutiny of notions of centre and periphery, which plays a part in the above work, forms the main focus of a comparative anthology of studies in Scandinavian and Scottish literature, Centring on the Peripheries, which he published in 2007 (Norvik Press).

Recently, he has co-edited and contributed to a volume of international scholarship offering a range of new perspectives on Lagerlöf’s work, on its transmissions into other media and a range of European cultures, and on the author’s influential public persona and ideological involvements. The book is entitled Re-Mapping Lagerlöf: Performance, Intermediality and European Transmissions, is co-edited with Helena Forsås-Scott and Lisbeth Stenberg, and was published by Nordic Academic Press in May 2014. Additionally, Bjarne Thomsen has recently researched new aspects of Lagerlöf’s more marginal production and the relationship of this production to the culture of periodicals. In this field, he is planning a further study focused on a substantial unpublished late novel manuscript by Lagerlöf entitled Rönnebergs sparbank, which has so far received little critical attention.

Currently, Bjarne Thomsen is working on questions of topographies of modernism and affective mapping in Nobel Prize-winning proletarian author Eyvind Johnson’s early urban narratives as well as on ideology and affectivity of place and the role of memory in his travel writing and autobiographical sketches. He has recently published a contribution entitled ‘Eyvind Johnson’s Hybrid North. Dynamics of Place and Time in Travelogues and Memory Sketches 1943-1963’ to a special issue (2014:1) of the Journal of Northern Studies, focused on Northern Swedish literature and marking the city of Umeå’s status as European Capital of Culture in 2014. Additionally, he has newly published two articles on Johnson’s 1920s work: ‘Geomodernism and Affect in Eyvind Johnson’s Urban North’ (Edda. Scandinavian Journal of Literary Research, 2015:1, pp. 18-31) and ‘Marginal and Metropolitan Modernist Modes in Eyvind Johnson’s Early Urban Narratives’ (Scandinavica, vol. 54:2, 2015, pp. 61-90). Bjarne Thomsen plans to develop these and further studies into a monograph focused on topographies of modernism in the author’s early work.



Course Organiser of:

  • History of the Scandinavian Novel
  • Ingmar Bergman and Cinema
  • Scandinavian Literature for Children and Young People
  • Scandinavian Literature 2

Research outputs

  1. [Review of] Sally Magnusson's 'The Sealwoman's Gift' (2018)

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review

  2. New Nordic environments in Eyvind Johnson’s factual and fictional prose, 1928-1932

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Marginal and metropolitan modernist modes in Eyvind Johnson’s early urban narratives

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

View all (57) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Annual PhD review (Russian Studies)

    Activity: Examination typesExamination

  2. Non-examining chair of PhD viva

    Activity: Examination typesExamination

  3. European Journal of Scandinavian Studies (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

View all (14) »

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