Tracing the Spirit of the Nordic Summer University: preparing the research

leaves showing traces of the history

As part of the project ‘Tracing the Spirit of the Nordic Summer University‘ that culminates in the 70th anniversary of the Nordic Summer University in 2020, several projects have been selected to do (artistic) reseach on a specific those traces. I also applied, and my project was accepted. Which means I’ll be going to the National Archive in Denmark that holds the physical archive of NSU, to do research.

I’ve been organising my trip at the end of August / beginning of September when I’ll be visiting Copenhagen and the Danish National Archives to go through some of the NSU archive that is stored there. There is 22 meters of archival material there, so I’ll have to work methodical and think about what to look at. More on that later.

The Danish National Archive

It’s great that the archive of NSU starting in 1950 is free to visit at the Danish National Archive and can be read by anyone who would like to in Copenhagen. But… you do need to figure out your way around the system.

  • Order material in advance. Everything is available, but you do need to order it at least 2-3 days and maximum 6 months in advance, so they can retrieve it from the many storage facilities it is held in.
  • The ordering system is in Danish. I found that using the chrome browser and google-translating it automatically works very well, so no problems in case your Danish is limited. (Although… most of the NSU archival material is in Danish, so that is a nice challenge ahead for me.)
  • You need a guest pass, but it seems that shouldn’t be a problem as long as you bring a picture ID with you.
  • The opening times are limited. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 9 am till 4 pm. And on Friday only in the morning, from 9 am to 1 pm.

On to the research

After the practical things are done, I’m to start on the real research. Thinking about the methodology and my approach to the archive. I’m planning to stay in Copenhagen for two weeks, and I hope that will be enough time to gather all the information I need, that I can then process and present during the 70th anniversary of NSU.

I intend to look at the study circles that have taken place during the 70 years of NSU existence. What were their titles, their topics? When did topics get introduced, is there a pattern to be seen when compared to the development of conversations in the Nordic environment (universities, political policy and societal changes)? To do this I will perform an (limited) Foucaultian archeology of the materials I find in the NSU Archive.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress on tracing the spirit of NSU 🙂

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