Mads Larsen’s dissertation is titled “Evolution Toward Social Democracy in a Millennium of Nordic Fiction.” His study examines influential works of fiction, from Icelandic saga to Swedish posthumanist TV, to illustrate the cultural origins of Scandinavian egalitarianism and show the mechanisms through which fiction can help humanity adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
How did the peoples who were Vikings a thousand years ago become the peaceful, egalitarian social democrats of today’s Scandinavia? As the past decade built toward today’s cultural-political crisis, the Nordic Model was frequently suggested as an alternative that could reform capitalism. Income equality, gender equality, low-conflict politics, and prosperous economies with generous benefits contribute to Nordic happiness and general wellbeing. A majority of young Americans express that they would prefer to live under such a regime. Larsen examines whether social democracy is something uniquely Scandinavian, or if the Nordic Model could be effectively implemented within other cultures, as well.
Tracing the evolution of egalitarianism in influential fiction across a millennium illuminates why the Nordic region turned out the way it did. The first nine case studies cover pivotal transitions from Viking Age kinship societies to the social-democratic adaptation to modernity. The tenth work of fiction points toward dataism, the ascending candidate for overtaking humanism as humanity’s next master-narrative:
- Christianity: From kinship to community – Gisli’s Saga.
- Plague: Despair when we stop believing in the stories that unite us – The Seventh Seal (Bergman).
- Reformation: Conflicting narratives contribute to witch burning – Day of Wrath (Dreyer).
- Enlightenment: Warning against Eurocentric universality – Niels Klim’s Underground Travels (Holberg).
- Modernity: Starving the mind into accepting modern morality – Hunger (Hamsun).
- Secular Lutheranism: Using increased productivity to fulfill old preference – Ingeborg Holm (Sjöström).
- Humanism: Killing neighbors over competing humanistic creeds – Under the North Star (Linna).
- Social Democracy: Pragmatic politics for evolutionary universals – The Story of a Crime (Sjöwall& Wahlöö).
- Postmodernism: Nothing to live for when stories become relative – 101 Reykjavik (Kormákur).
- Posthumanism: A new story that lets humans merge with machines – Real Humans (Lundström).
- Ph.D. candidate: UCLA European Languages and Transcultural Studies
- M.A. Scandinavian: UCLA Scandinavian Section
- M.F.A. Screenwriting: UCLA Theater, Film and Television
- B.A. Journalism: Oslo Metropolitan University
- B.S. International Relations: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
- Memory as Tyranny: A Dataist Argument for Posthuman Interconnectivity in Humans and Real Humans. Memory Studies 17.4: online first (2024).
- Historicist Cosmopolitanism from Scandinavia’s First Novel. Comparative Literature 74.3 (2022; forthcoming).
- A Liberal Deadlock Against Deplorables: Adapting Ibsen from Nietzscheanism to Nazism to Neoliberalism. Journal of European Studies 52.1 (2022; forthcoming).
- Investigating the Lutheran Roots of Social Democracy in Ingeborg Holm. Scandinavian Studies 93.4 (2021; forthcoming).
- Evolutionary Insights into a Maladapted Viking in Gísla saga. Journal of English and Germanic Philology 120.3 (2021; forthcoming).
- Probably Ghostwritten The Dark Child: A Lost African Vision for Global Interdependence with 21st Century Relevance. Research in African Literatures 52.1 (2021; forthcoming).
- Untangling Darwinian Confusion around Lust, Love, and Attachment in the Scandinavian Modern Breakthrough. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 5.1 (2021; forthcoming).
- Battleground for Three Humanisms: The Finnish Trilogy that United What Liberalism, Socialism, and Fascism Tore Apart. The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms (2021; forthcoming).
- Workshopping Essay Structure: A Hollywood-Inspired Classroom and Online Model. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 32.3 (2020; forthcoming).
- Adapting to Urban Pro-Sociality in Hamsun’s Hunger. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 4.2: 33–46 (2020).
- Bookending the Enlightenment: Scandinavia’s First Novel and the Anthropocene Condemnation of its TV Adaptation. Journal of European Studies 50.4: 325–42 (2020).
- From Oral Story to Film: A Millennium of Reassessing Icelandic Identity in Gísla saga. Literature/Film Quarterly 48.4 (2020).
- Repeating Authorial Blackface in Analogous Adaptation of Probably Ghostwritten The Dark Child. Adaptation: online first (2020).
- Adapting Social Change: Swedish Crime Fiction as a Medium for System Correction. Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance 13.1: 37–50 (2020).
- Sealing New Truths: Film Adaptation as Cultural Capstone for 101 Reykjavík. Journal of Scandinavian Cinema 10.1: 25–44 (2020).
- Agreeing on History: Adaptation as Restorative Truth in Finnish Reconciliation. Literature/Film Quarterly 48.1 (2020).
- Paratextual Adaptation of Social Importance for Three Groundbreaking Scandinavian Novels. LOGOS: Journal of the World Publishing Community 30.3: 40–56 (2019).
- Adapting a Witch to Modern Beliefs and Values: Persecuting the Outsider through Trial, Stage, and Film. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 3.2: 39–52 (2019).
- Belief System Disintegration: Evolutionary Insights from Bergman’s Det sjunde inseglet. World Futures: The Journal of New Paradigm Research 75.8: 632–52 (2019).
- Ofelas: Filming Otherness in Indigenous Revitalization. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics 14.2: 233–41 (2018).
- Virtual Sidekick: Second-Person POV in Narrative VR. Journal of Screenwriting 9.1: 73–83 (2018).
Languages: English, Norwegian (fluent); Swedish, Danish (comprehension); German, French, Old Norse, Spanish (non-fluent).