Journal of Undergraduate Research


Selma Lagerlöf, early ecological thought, Swedish literary history




Comparative Arts and Letters


While it is not difficult to isolate the first uses of the word “ecology,” it is far more elusive to trace the origins of the idea before the term became commonplace. In this project, Dr. Oscarson and I attempted to map the changing concept of nature in turn-of-the-century Sweden in literary and scientific sources to clarify and define this important paradigm shift, particularly through the works of Nobel prizing winning Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940). Lagerlöf is a popular figure in Swedish literary history, and this project proposes to study her in a new light. Although she has not historically been read for her environmental thought, there are key themes in her works that can be understood as ecological or interested in investigating interdependencies between organisms, identities, and environments. The advantage of “macroanalysis” to perform this reading of Lagerlöf’s work is that we would be able to consider her work as a whole and deduce trends, patterns, and topics that might be obscured in more traditional approaches.