Torben Jelsbak

Torben Jelsbak

Associate Professor

My research is situated in the cross-disciplinary field between Nordic literary history and cultural and media history in a broad sense. 

My previous research has focused on the early 20th century avant-gardes in art and literature, both in a European and a Nordic context. Another key interest in my work concerns the tradition of socalled "Cultural Radicalism" in Danish literature and intellectual history - from Georg Brandes and Poul Henningsen (PH) to Klaus Rifbjerg and others.

Latest publications:

Torben Jelsbak and Anna Sandberg (eds): Dansk-tyske krige. Kulturliv og kulturkampe, Forlaget U Press, 355 pp., 2020.

Jens Bjerring-Hansen, Torben Jelsbak and Anna Estera Mrozewicz (eds): Scandinavian Exceptionalisms. Culture, Society, Discourse = Berliner Beiträge zur Skandinavistik vol. 29, 534 pp., 2021

My current research focuses on the interrelationship and exchange between high culture and popular culture in Denmark in the 20th and 21 centuries. Drawing on theories, concepts and methods from modern cultural studies, sociology and media theory I examine how the dialogue between high and low is established in a number of Danish litterary works and other cultural products from the period. The aim of the project is to offer a new and more varied insight into the correlation between artistic innovation and popular culture in present day society.

I am currently involved in several international research networks and collective research projects.

I have contributed to the project "Digital Main Currents" (Carlsberg),, and, together with Lill-Ann Körber (Aarhus University), I am in charge of the DFG-network "New Geographies of Scandinavian Studies",   


Fields of interest

Literary history and media history, sociology of literature, intellectual history, discourse analysis, literary stylistics, cultural studies, popular culture, urban studies

Primary fields of research

Scandinavian Modernity, European Avant-Garde art and culture around World War I (Futurism, Expressionism, Dadaism), First World War, the German Occupation (1940-1945), Nordic Cultural Radicalism from Georg Brandes to Klaus Rifbjerg.


Courses forming part of the study programme in Danish:

  • Literary history (2. term)
  • Modern literature (3. term)
  • The selective subject "Texts, books and bits"
  • The selective subject "Copenhagen: Modernity and Pluralism"
  • MA courses on Modern Danish literature in interaction with culture and media history


I offer supervision on Danish and Nordic literary history from antiquity up until today and I welcome interdiciplinarity – including projects and theses formulated in the border zone between literature, cultural studies, sociology and media history.

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