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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Summer 2004

E f322 • Midnight Sun People – Sámi Culture and Civilization

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
83680 MTWThF
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
GEO 2.202

Course Description

What can a minority group, comprised of not much more than 50,000 people, teach the world about peaceful coexistence, sensible use of the environment, and a meaningful rapport with the spiritual world? In this interdisciplinary course we will learn about the Sámi, an indigenous people living today mainly in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Not too long ago commonly referred to as Lapps or Laplanders and often the victims of discrimination by the majority cultures in whose proximity they lived, the Sámi have, in recent years, received a greater degree of autonomy and their culture is being studied both by non-Sámi scholars and by the Sámi themselves. And Sámi writers, musicians and graphic artists are being recognized the world over.

Grading Policy

Two tests 20%
12-15 page pager 50%
Film Review 10%
Classroom Participation 10%
Oral Report 10%

Attendance: more than four unexcused absences will adversely affect grade


The first week we will read a non-literary treatment of the Sámi, Lehtola’s The Sámi People. In the ensuing weeks we will explore how fiction, visual narrative (in the case of films), music, art, and manifestations of material culture reveal the Sámi view of (the) god(s), the humans and the universe.

We will read and discuss several works of fiction. Included among the readings are The Sun, My Father by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, a book of poetry which has received international praise for its verbal and visual imagery (Valkeapää is responsible for the book’s layout, its illustrations and text); and three novels, In Search of the Drum, a quest novel by Ailo Gaup, its sequel The Night Between the Days and Antiphony, by Laila Stien, a non-Sámi, whose novel depicts the relationship between a Norwegian woman and three generations of Sami women. We will also read In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun – Contemporary Sami Prose and Poetry and Sami Culture in a New Era: The Norwegian Sami Experience.


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