WHY TEACH SCANDINAVIAN?

JUST ASK RASMUS ANDERSON

 
Rasmus B. Anderson, the founder of the Scandinavian Department at the University of Wisconsin, writes the following (on p. 141) of his memoirs:
 
"Already the second term [of my first year in the university] the number of Scandinavian students had increased and so I was able to organize a small class in Norwegian. With this as a basis, I gradually began to urge the addition of Scandinavian languages, etc., as an elective study in the university curriculum. I wanted these languages and literatures formally recognized. The whole university faculty refused to listen to me. They were, all of them, totally ignorant of Scandinavian literature and had only the most superficial knowledge of Scandinavian history. They said I had Scandinavian languages on my brain; they regarded this as a form of disease and pitied me. Imagine a man coming to the university today and insisting it was absolutely necessary to establish a chair in Patagonian, imagine him claiming that Patagonia is the cradle of all our liberties and of the laws out of which all modern civilization has poured, imagine him urging that Patagonian is more important than any of the studies now offered in the university curriculums, imagine what sort of reception this Patagonian would receive, and you have a clearidea of my position as an advocate, champion and apostle of Scandinavian studies. My efforts hardly left an impression."
 
An Excerpt from the LIFE STORY OF RASMUS B. ANDERSON, written by himself, with the assistance of Albert O. Barton. (Madison, WI, 1915.)