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Gunilla Hermansson


Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
412 55 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Gunilla Hermansson


I have been researcher and senior lecturer at LIR since 2009, professor since 2016. Since July 2021 I also function as postgraduate education coordinator for Comparative Literature.


I studied Nordic literature at the University of Copenhagen and received my Ph.D.-degree in 2003 with a thesis on C.J.L. Almqvist’s Törnrosens bok (1833-1851). Before I came to Gothenburg, I worked as an editor of the collected works of H.C. Andersen, at the Society for Danish Language and Literature. I also conducted a postdoctoral research project on Danish and Swedish romanticism at the University of Copenhagen.


My research has a distinctly Nordic profile and it has been devoted mostly to romantic, early avant-garde and modernist literature.

A common denominator is a historical interest, including the theory and problems of literary historiography, as well as an effort to combine close readings with theoretical reflections on the relationships between form, ideology and aesthetics.

Among my publications, the four monographs could be mentioned:

  • Mellem det korte og det lange. Undersøgelser af dansk 1990’er-prosa (1999, In between the short and the long. Studies of Danish fiction of the 1990s)
  • At fortælle verden. En studie i C.J.L. Almqvists Törnrosens bok (2006, Narrating the world, a study of C.J.L. Almqvist’s Törnrosens bok)
  • Lyksalighedens øer. Møder mellem poesi, religion og erotik i dansk og svensk romantik (2010, Isles of Felicity. Crossings of poetry, religion and eroticism in Danish and Swedish Romanticism, 2010)
  • Modernisternas prosa och expressionisme. Studier i nordisk modernism 1910–1930 (2015, The Modernist's Prose and Expressionism).

The most recent book is co-written with Yvonne Leffler, Åsa Arping, Jenny Bergenmar, and Birgitta Johansson Lindh, Swedish Women’s Writing on Export: Tracing Transnational Reception in the Nineteenth Century (2019).

I am, currently, in the steering committee for the network Nordic Literary History Now (, a member of the scientific board for Annali di Ca' Foscari. Serie occidentale (, and of the editorial board for Romantik – Journal for the Study of Romanticisms (Nordic Association for the Study of Romanticism: )

2015-2017 I was member of the review panel for aesthetic disciplines in the Swedish Research Council.


2016 to Spring 2018 I served as subject representative (ämnesordförande) for comparative literature at the department.

2017-2021 I was a member of the Faculty Board.


I have taught classes in all levels, mostly historical subjects, but also courses in literary theory and methodology.

Current research

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

The project posits one piece of song lyrics as a challenge to literary history after the transnational turn. 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. It departs from specific uses and manipulations of an almost authorless poem and from its functions in popular culture.

Different song practices have made “Vårvindar friska” (1828, Fresh Spring Breezes), by Julia Nyberg, one of the few romantic poems that is still alive in popular culture today. It has met international audiences through 19 century concert tours, 20 century Hollywood film and 21 century YouTube-performers. The performers and their audiences, the translators and readers, 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. Such a study of poetry circulation is vital for a more complete understanding of how and why literature travels. Furthermore, following the reception and transformations of one poem across periods, media and national borders, suggests methods for new ways of understanding and writing literary history.

The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council.