Literary Citizens of the World (LitCit)

Tracing the transnational crossroads of books in Early Modern Norway

The first Norwegian book was printed in Paris in 1519, in Latin. Today, most ‘Norwegian’ books are printed in the Baltics, and the holdings of the National Library are digitized and made publicly accessible from around the world. The intermediate 500 years of Norwegian book history display similar transnational and trans-medial characteristics. How did the book change society? In what way did it influence ideas on children, gender or nationality? Or simply how we consume entertainment? Why has it remained such a powerful and influential medium through the shifting media revolutions?

LitCit covered the book medium’s evolvement in Norway from its religious beginnings in 1519 to the emergence of the modern public sphere in the mid-1800s. Books in Scandinavia were on the one hand steeped in a pan European market and tradition, and on the other, they constitute an important and different case of regional and local adaptation, marked by what has been termed ‘Northern Enlightenment’ and later the phenomenon of Scandinavian world literature (Ibsen and Strindberg). Subprojects included studies of books for children, popular literature and translations, literary periodicals and political pamphlets, bibliography and works of History from the hand press period. The project was organized in four work packages (WP): 1) Education, religion and literature, 2) Popular books and new readerships, 3) Moving books: trade and media transformations and 4) The politics of books: Negotiating identity, print and the public sphere.

The year 2019 marked the 500th anniversary of the printed book in Norway. Popular and scholarly results included exhibitions at The National Library on the history of books and the development of the public sphere and a bibliography of Norwegian books 1519-1850.

LitCit brought together an interdisciplinary and international team of media and book historians. Partner institutions were The National Library and the National Archives of Norway, The Universities of Oslo and Tromsø, The University College of Southeast Norway, The Society for Danish Language and Literature, and Cambridge Project for the Book Trust. The project was led by Aina Nøding, Research Librarian at The National Library. Research Librarian Ruth Hemstad led the project in the period September 2018 to August 2020.

LitCit was financed by The Research Council of Norway. It ran from 2016 to 2021.