MeMo – Measuring Modernity: Literary and Social Change in Scandinavia 1870-1900

The project aims to investigate reflections of societal change in Scandivian literature from the latter part of the 19th century. By combining people and computers, historical interpretation and computational algorithms, the project offers new insights into how Denmark and Scandinavia became modern, and what the role of literature was in that process.

Anna Seekamp. Kunstnerens søster (Bertha Wegmann, 1882). Statens Museum for Kunst.
Anna Seekamp. Kunstnerens søster (Bertha Wegmann, 1882). Statens Museum for Kunst.

In the latter part of the 19th century Scandinavian societies underwent profound structural changes, encompassing numerous, interlocking areas: demography, infrastructure, morals, culture, etc. Through state-of-the-art computational techniques for literary analysis and critical interpretation based on theoretical and historical expertise, this project aims to explore how Scandinavian literature represented a cultural reflection of these transformations.

As opposed to traditional historiography on the period, which has focused on selected texts by a few prominent, male authors, our digital corpus comprises some 900 Danish and Norwegian novels published between 1870-1900, with rich metadata on texts and authors. This allow for the capturing of robust literary and sociological trends and for new insights into the processes of modernization in this formative period in the literary and social history of Scandinavia.

To this corpus we thus ask questions such as: How did this breakthrough of new ways of thinking and writing actually unfold? Who were the actors? And to what extent did the new relate to literature at large?




Dorthe Duncker, professor, University of Copenhagen

Fotis Jannidis, professor, Julius-Maximilians-Universität of Würzburg

Lasse Horne Kjældgaard, professor, University of Southern Denmark

Ellen Rees, professor, University of Oslo

Christian Dahl, associate professor, University of Copenhagen






Name Title Phone E-mail
Bjerring-Hansen, Jens Associate Professor +4535331905 E-mail
Conroy, Alexander PhD Fellow +4535327481 E-mail
Jelsbak, Torben Associate Professor +4535331224 E-mail
Pedersen, Bolette Sandford Professor, Deputy Head of Department +4535329078 E-mail


Carsten Levisen, associate professor, Roskilde University

Matthew Wilkens, associate professor, Cornell

Timothy Tangherlini, professor, UC Berkeley

Peter Juul Nielsen, associate professor, University of Southern Denmark

Other staff

Dorte Haltrup Hansen, academic research staff

Kirstine Nielsen Degn, student intern (2022)

Philip Diderichsen, special consultant

Sebastian Ørtoft Rasmussen, student intern (2021)


Carlsberg Fondet

Project period: 1 November 2020 - 30 October 2024

PI: Jens Bjerring-Hansen, associate professor
Phone: +45 35 33 19 05
Mobile: +45 40 95 10 85