Berit Åström

Contact Information

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Senior lecturer


Works at:

Language Studies




Umeå universitet
SE-901 87 Umeå

Visiting Address:

A, Humanisthuset, korridor HE2


+46 90 786 62 35


berit.astrom@umu.seEmail 2

berit.astrom@engelska.umu.seEmail 1


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About me


I teach literature, translation and cultural studies on campus and on the internet. Other courses I have taught over the years include written and oral proficiency, as well as English for exchange students. I supervise one doctoral student and co-supervise two more.

Beginning autumn 2014, I am also assistant director of studies, with a special reponsibility for English.


Doctoral research

I wrote my thesis within the field Old English poetry, analysing scholarly interpretations of the two poems "The Wife's Lament" and "Wulf and Eadwacer" as a basis for identity construction. The research also resulted in two articles: "The Creation of the Anglo-Saxon Woman," Studia Neophilologica 70 (1998): 25-34 and "Murdering the Narrator of the Wife's Lament," Medieval Feminist Newsletter 27.1 (1999): 24-27.

Cover of bookI defended my thesis, The Politics of Tradition: Examining the History of the Old English Poems The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer in 2002. It was reprinted in 2008.

Transhistorical studies

After receiving my doctorate I have broadened my research to span later periods as well. One project I am working on now is transhistorical studies of literature and visual texts. I focus on tropes in contemporary texts that circulate ideas of female subordination and trace them backwards through history. The results from my first study, of a trope I call "referred pain," have been presented in an article with the title "Referred Pain: Privileging Male Emotion over Female Physical Suffering," in Journal of Gender Studies 20.2, 2011.

Since then I have been analysing the trope “dead and absent mothers.” I carried out a preliminary study during autumn 2009 as a visiting scholar at the Department of English, Communication, Film and Media at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. My liaison there was Professor Sarah Annes Brown, who also works with transhistoricism. We have continued working on this topic, and in October 2010, we organised an international colloquium with the title Literature and Transhistoricism at Anglia Ruskin University.

My project has since been awarded an Intra-European Fellowship from Marie Curie Actions, The Seventh Framework Programme, which enabled me to continue my research at Anglia Ruskin University during the period August 2011-July 2012. Some of the results from that research have been presented in the articles "The Symbolic Annihilation of Mothers in Popular Culture: Single Father and the Death of the Mother, forthcoming in Feminist Media Studies," "A Narrative of Fear: Advice to Mothers," forthcoming in Literature and Medicine, and "'Sucking the Corrupte Mylke of an Infected Nurse: Regulating the Dangerous Maternal Body," forthcoming in Journal of Gender Studies. Another article, "Fathering Humanity: Problematic Mothering in Cormac McCarthy's The Road," is under review.

In connection with my stay in Cambridge, Professor Brown and I organised another international colloquium on 16 June 2012, with the title Allusions and Echoes: Cultural Recycling and Recirculation.

I am currently organising a conference with the title Missing, presumed dead: absent mothers in the cultural imagination, which will take place 11-12 June, 2015.

Fan fiction

My research also spans the field of fan fiction: texts produced by fans. I am a member of the research group Cyber Echoes and I work with so-called mpreg - texts in which men become pregnant and give birth. The mpreg texts I have focused on have been based on the television series Supernatural, and I have  published an article on the subject. This article discusses mpreg in relation to genre, and focuses on romantic texts. In February 2010, Cyber Echoes organised an international symposioum called Textual Echoes: Fan Fiction and Sexualities. The proceedings from this conference have since been published in a themed issue of the online journal Transformative Works and Cultures, which Cyber Echoes guest edited.

Crime fiction

A third research field I work within is crime fiction. I have just completed an anthology project together with Dr Katarina Gregersdotter of the Department of Language Studies and Dr Tanya Horeck of the Department of English, Communication, Film and Media at Anglia Ruskin University. The project focused on the various functions that rape and sexual violence fulfils in contemporary texts and has just been presented in the book Rape in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction, Palgrave 2013. A book chapter, "'Becuase My Mother was a Liar and a Whore': Adulterous Mother and Paternity Uncertainty in Jo Nesbø's The Snowman," is forthcoming in The Mother Blame Game, Demeter Press, in 2015.

Umeå Center for Gender Studies

I have also been affiliated with the project Challenging Gender/ Challenging Emotions, which was run by Umeå Center for Gender Studies, but which is now completed. It was in part through generous support from this project that I was able to carry out research at Anglia Ruskin University in 2009.

Page Editor: Magnus Nordström

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