The Edge of Words

13 March 2015

Professor Annegret Heitmann, Department of Nordic Philology, University of Munich

Agnete og Havmanden, painted by Vilhelm Kyhn

Not Only Words. The Intermedial Reception of ”Folk”-Ballads in Modern Danish Culture


The lecture focusses on the well-known narrative about ”Agnete og havmanden” (Agnete and the Merman). My argument is that we can find a number of traces of ”folk”-ballads in various fields of modern Danish culture. In the first part of the lecture, I introduce the ballad and outline the characteristics of the genre, especially its inherent intermediality. In the second and main part, I concentrate on three poems (by Holger Drachmann, Johannes Jørgensen og Klaus Rifbjerg) and three works of pictorial art (a picture by Vilhelm Kyhn, and two sculptures by Johannes C. Bjerg and Suste Bonnén). I want to show that it is not least the intermedial potential of the ballad which has inspired modern authors and artists.