In the year 2011, Norwegian University was celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary. In connection to the jubilee celebrations, a lot has been written and said concerning the development and the history of this institution of higher education and its som ewhat isolated position in the society. Fewer attempts, however, have been made to explore the University's role in and importance for Norwegian art, more specifically literature. University has, without a doubt, had a seminal influence on the literature of the nation, not least since many of the novelists and poets were academically educated, and the University has continued to be a recurrent reference point in the prose texts from the nineteenth century to the present day. The main objective of my proje ct is, therefore, to shed a different light on the development of the Norwegian Academia, by focusing on its literary interpretations and conceptions. More specifically, my thesis explores how the Norwegian University (as a single entity) with its student s, professors and administrative staff is perceived, depicted, interpreted and commented on in the novels by Norwegian authors, and how these narratives understand and portray the actually transforming Academia.
In my project I analyze the novels by Nor wegian authors whose central motif is an aspect of the Academia, or that have a University setting. The basic question is whether the relatively large number of such novels: written from the establishment of the Norwegian University until the present day can be said to belong to the genre of the academic novel, as we know it from the English-speaking literary tradition. The hypothesis of my research is that, in spite of the heterogeneity of their motifs, these novels indeed form a corpus essentially deali ng with "the cultural conflicts and sociological nuances inherent in campus life", which is, according to Womack, the principal characteristic of the novels of this genre.