Out of Denmark: Isak Dinesen in a Colonial Context

Marie Mathiesen : English/Scandinavian

Mentor: Professor Karin Sanders, Scandinavian

Marie will examine the works of the Danish writer Karen Blixen (1885-1962), known in America as Isak Dinesen. Dinesen lived in Kenya for 16 years, and although she was a colonialist, she respected the Africans as aristocratic and noble human beings. Her position and relations to the Africans grant her a unique dual perspective on the colonial situation in Kenya creating a bifocality that also permeates her later writing on multiple levels. Investigating the colonial aspect of this duality, Marie will use postcolonial literary theory to examine selections of Dinesen’s authorship, including Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass. This summer Marie will be studying Dinesen’s texts in both Danish and English at the reading room of the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen. While in Denmark, she will also meet with several Scandinavian Dinesen scholars. The product of this research will be a senior honors thesis in English.