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Ebba Witt-Brattström

Ebba Marcelle Witt-Brattström
Born June 1, 1953, Stockholm

PhD 1988 (literature), Stockholm University
Docent in literature 1995, Stockholm University

Professor of Scandinavian Literature 2012–, University of Helsinki
Dag Hammarskjöld Professor, Department of Northern European Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin
Visiting Professor 2002, Dep. of Scandinavian Studies, University College London
Professor of literature (specialised in gender studies) 2000–12, Södertörn University
Lecturer and head of literature 1998, Södertörn University
Erasmus-Dozent, Deutsches Seminar 1995, University of Zurich
Erasmus Docent, Oud-Germanistik 1993, University of Groningen
Research associate in literature 1992–98, Stockholm University
Project researcher 1989–92, Stockholm University

Member of the executive committee of the internet version of the Nordic Women's Literary History project 2013–14
Member of the Swedish government committee for the promotion of school equality 2010–11

Director of the research project Den Nya kvinnan mellan två sekelskiften (‘The new woman at the turn of two centuries’) 2002–05, Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University

Member of the Board of the Royal Institute of Technology 1998–03, Stockholm
Member of the Nordic Council Literature Prize committee 1991–99
Member of the editorial board of the journal Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift
Member of the editorial board of The History of Nordic Women's Literature I–V 1982–2000, editor-in-chief of the Swedish language editions of parts II–III

Research themes
The canon and gender, literary historiography, the breakthrough of modernism, decadence, 1930s Swedish proletarian modernism, modernist lyrical poetry, 1970s as a literary era, literary gender dialogues. Moa Martinson, Edith Södergran, Victoria Benedictsson, Pyhä Birgitta, Ola Hansson, Laura Marholm and August Strindberg. Psychoanalytic literary research, gender studies.

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Awards and honours
Björn Nilsson Prize 2016, Expressen
Elin Wägner Prize 2015
Ivar Lo-Johansson Prize 2014
Lars Salvius Prize 2010, Swedish Writers’ Union
Örjan Lindberger Prize 2006
Helge Ax:son stiftelse Foundation Prize 2005
Samfundet De Nio essay prize 2004
Moa Prize 2001, Swedish Workers' Educational Association
Nominee of Stockholm University’s Faculty of History and Philosophy for the Swedish Government’s young researcher scholarship award. 1993

Photo: Marie Klingspor Rotstein
Written by Ebba Witt-Brattström (Tomas Sjöblom ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Gender Issues in the History of Literature

Ebba Witt-Brattström was the first female professor at Södertörn University in Sweden. It was therefore fitting that the professorship was in literature with a focus on gender issues. Since 2012, Witt-Brattström has been Professor of Scandinavian Literature at the University of Helsinki.

In her research and academic output, Professor Witt-Brattström has written on gender issues in various different contexts. Her 1987 doctoral dissertation, Moa Martinson. Skrift och drift i trettiotalet (‘Moa Martinson. Writing and Desire in the 1930s’), already combined the history of literature with a gender perspective. Gender issues have been ever-present throughout her entire career.

“I have just finished an anthology of literary profiles entitled Kulturmannen och andra texter (‘The Man of Culture and Other Texts’), which will be published in early 2016. The book proves that it is academically worthwhile to study the literary careers of both female and male writers.”

In her 2007 book Dekadensens kön (‘The Gender of the Decadence’), Ebba Witt-Brattström writes about the great figures of Swedish literary decadence, Ola Hansson and Laura Marholm. Photo from Norstedts.

Kulturmannen is a good example of the patriarchate that according to Witt-Brattström exists in culture. Another aspect of her research interests is evident in the 2014 book Stå I bredd. 70-talets kvinnor, män och litteratur (‘Stand Abreast: The Women, Men and Literature of the 1970s’). In the book she looks at the 1970s as a literary period and argues that the decade—contrary to the popular belief that it was rather unfruitful in literary terms —was both vibrant and innovative. A salient feature of the period, according to Witt-Brattström, was its central themes, such as sexual taboos, the crisis of masculinity, depressive feminism and women’s history.

“My study last year on the 1970s as a literary period gave me an extra incentive to re-examine another modern time. At the moment I am studying Nordic literature written in the 1980s. At the same time, I am also planning a larger biomythographic project on biographies, together with post-doctoral researchers and senior research fellows.”

The 2010 book Å alla kärä systrar! (‘On all the dear sisters!’), by Ebba Witt-Brattström, deals with her time as a young woman in the 1970s feminist movement.


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