Wind in the sails of new professor’s research on popular culture

Johan Höglund has been promoted to professor of English literature. With his research, Höglund wants to increase the understanding of how popular culture reflects, stimulates, and sometimes tries to problematise colonial and neocolonial discourses and processes.

Popular culture is intertwined with the society from where it originates – and it has great impact on us! This means Johan Höglund who was recently promoted to professor of English literature at Linnaeus University and who carries out research on the relationship between different empires and popular culture.

“Popular culture has an ability to legitimise and normalise apparent unjust social relations, but it can also question them. At the same time, I want those who read my research to be stimulated to ask difficult questions about the privileges you get in the West, and in the Nordic countries in particular”, says Höglund.

Makes it easier for the cutting-edge research centre

Höglund is director of Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolinial Studies, one of Linnaeus University’s six cutting-edge research centres, that carries out research on colonialism and postcolonialism. The centre is one of the largest research environments in the Nordic countries for global and non-European history. Höglund says that being director is like a service function – it is about creating the best possible conditions for the researchers at the centre.

Being promoted to professor provides a certain legitimacy, which makes it easier for me to carry out this work. It becomes easier for me to establish collaborations nationally and internationally and to find external funding, both for myself and for others”, Höglund says.

Breaking new ground on Gothic and Anthropocene

Right now, Höglund is working on a special issue of Scandinavian Studies, on the topic of Nordic colonialism, where he is editing together with his colleague Linda Andersson Burnett. The special issue is the journal’s first that deals with the colonialism that was carried out by, and in, the Nordic countries. What is more, he has just recently completed the book Nordic Gothic together with researchers Yvonne Leffler from University of Gothenburg and Maria Holmgren Troy and Sofia Wijkmark from Karlstad University. The book is the first international publication that studies how Gothic comes into existence and develops in the Nordic countries. Together with Justin Edwards from University of Stirling and Rune Graulund from University of Southern Denmark, he has also initiated work on the first book that studies Gothic and Anthropocene.

“Anthropocene is the geological era that we are living in today, where human activity and industry play key roles. How can this genre better tell the story of global warming and climate change? It is a very exciting project with well-renowned researchers taking part”, says Höglund.

What is most exciting about having been promoted to professor at Linnaeus University?

Being promoted to professor is like getting another sail for your boat, and an extra rudder. It is easier to navigate now. It is a great feeling.