Rethinking the rural North through environmental literature, film, and TV

This international conference gathers junior and senior researchers to explore the multi-layered ways in which today’s rural landscapes, troubled by human impact, are portrayed in literary and cinematic narratives, and how human environmental responsibility is negotiated.

The view of rural areas as a resource for human use has come under scrutiny. Overfishing, soil depletion and forest degradation are serious environmental problems that challenge the idea of resource extraction as the engine of rural development. Also, increasing urbanisation and growing rural exodus put pressure on rural areas.

How do literary and film works question the taken-for-granted and often invisible uses of resources? Which aesthetic means are deployed to depict today’s rural landscapes troubled by human impact? And which alternative forms of living and working in rural areas, based on non-extractive land and sea use, are brought to the fore?

This conference starts from the premise that cultural representations and imaginations have great potential to reflect, archive, and shape our relation to the environment. As a medium of lived experience, they can transport us, both cognitively and emotionally, into an awareness of our dependency on healthy ecosystems.

By highlighting the crucial role played by cultural imaginations in determining what aspects of contemporary rural Scandinavia are foregrounded, which rural voices, including those of nonhuman actors, are listened to, and how these voices might mobilize the rural socially and politically, the conference aspires to contribute both to the cultural turn in pastoral studies and the rustic turn in cultural studies, as well as to scarce ecocritical conceptualizations within these fields.

Download the conference poster.


The keynote lecture on ‘Rural Hinterlands’ will be held by Prof. Dr. Esther Peeren, Academic Director of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam, and leader of the ERC-funded project Imagining the Rural in a Globalizing World.



Time Activity
09:00 Welcome and Introduction by Sophie Wennerscheid and Anna Mrozewicz
Norwegian Documentary features films: People by the Fjord

Anne Gjelsvik (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim).

10:15 The City as Trauma and the Cabin as Refuge: Tension between the Rural and the Urban in Vigdis Hjorth’s novels

Irene Pérez Puyol (Universidad Complutense de Madrid).

11:00 Coffee break
11:15 Exploring the Utility of Environmental Memory in the Literature of the Rural North

Christian Hummelsund Voie (University of Southeast Norway).

12:00 Lunch break
13:30 Rural Intimacies in the North: Polaris

Annie Fee (Lund University).

14:15 “Men då är vi här”: Omsorg, or the Act of Care, in Tove Jansson’s Sommarboken (1972)

Per Mendoza (University of Iceland).

15:00 Coffee break
15:30 Keynote: Rural Hinterlands

Esther Peeren (University of Amsterdam).

16:30 End of day 1
18:30 Conference dinner



Time Activity

Different perspectives on Árneshreppur

Saskia Klose (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich).

09:45 Rethinking Rural Relations. Food, farming, and the environment in contemporary Danish literature and film

Sophie Wennerscheid (University of Copenhagen).

10:30 Coffee break
11:00 (Re-)Orientations of Time and Space in Maria Turtschaninoff’s Arvejord (2022)

Sotirios Kimon Mouzakis (University of Zurich).

11:45 Dark Green and Depleted: Exploring Unsustainable Livings in Rural Swedish Film Landscapes

Aurore Berger Bjursell (Sorbonne Université).

12:30 Lunch break

‘Natural scenery’ and viscous toxicity: traumatized Sápmi landscapes in Scandinavian Eco-noir television series

Anna Estera Mrozewicz (Lund University).

14:15 Reexamining the essentialisations of the rural maritime extractive peripheries in the arts and humanities

Jules Danto (European Sustainability Center, Saint-Nazaire) & Anatole Danto.

15:00 Coffee break
15:15 Coastal havoc in Peder Frederik Jensen’s Rans vilje (2023) and Holger Drachmann’s ’Efter Orkanen’ (1881)

Søren Frank (University of Southern Denmark).

16:00 Concluding remarks
16:30 End of the conference



Please sign up for the conference in advance. Sign up.