Borealism in the Bodmer Collection

Lecture by Sylvain Briens (Professor at Paris-Sorbonne) under the auspices of the Bodmer Lab Research Seminar.

Wednesday 25 May 2016 at 12:15| Uni Bastions Aile Jura, salle A113


Since Antiquity, the North captured the imaginations of historians, geographers, philosophers, explorers and writers from the “South,” who projected onto this space a discourse that employed scientific observations, social and political considerations, as well as dreams, fears and fantasies. This discursive space, called Borealism, is a product by and for the South. Unlike Orientalism, the discourse of which is entirely produced by the West, Borealism was reappropriated as part of the Northern identity.

To what extent was Martin Bodmer’s interest in Germanic and Nordic philology, Old Norse texts (sagas, eddas) and modern Scandinavian literature indicative of this Borealism, which 20th-century intellectuals adopted as a mark of distinction? Does the formation of a Borealist holding in the collection reveal Martin Bodmer’s vision of world literature?