Gunilla Hermansson

Song Lyrics as a Challenge to Transnational Literary History – the Case of ”Vårvindar Friska”

The project posits one piece of song lyrics as a productive challenge to literary history after the transnational turn: “Vårvindar friska” (Fresh Spring Breezes), by Julia Nyberg. Whereas most research on world literature and transnational circulation has focused on the novel and the already canonized authors, this project starts from an entirely different angle. The point of departure is popular culture and social functions, specific uses and manipulations. Different song practices have made “Vårvindar friska” (1828) one of the few romantic poems that is still alive in popular culture today. It has met international audiences through 19th century concert tours, 20th century Hollywood film and 21st century YouTube-performers. Translators, editors, advertisement agents, performers and their audiences have usually not been engaging with a poem by Nyberg so much as a part of the national/Nordic heritage. This is the very basis on which the case of “Vårvindar friska” offers unique insights into the transnational circulation and social functions of that branch of poetry which is meant to be sung. The contention is that this kind of material provides deeper and wider insights into the stagings of literature in the transnational exchange, vital for a more thorough understanding of how and why literature travels. The method of following the uses and transformations of one poem across periods, media and national borders offers a new kind of literary history.
Grant administrator
University of Gothenburg
Reference number
SEK 1,165,000.00
RJ Sabbatical
General Literature Studies