Werner Siegfried Bigell
I teach English in a teacher education program at campus Alta. My focus area is intercultural communication and how it can be implemented in English language and literature/culture classes. During the last years I organized a course in Intercultural Communication, where students from three universities (UiT, Syktyvkar State University, Russia, and Khon Kaen University, Thailand) cooperated online in international teams. At the moment I am working on a web-based platform for an international professional learning community (IPLC) with a thematic focus on English teaching. This platform is a virtual meeting space for teacher education students of English as well as university and school teachers of English; it allows to coordinate international tasks such as interviews and allows sharing teaching activities. Current member institutions are UiT, Syktyvkar State University, Russia, and Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Thailand.
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Publications outside Cristin
I am interested in the interaction between urban and natural spaces in modernity, the cultural frames that guide the perception of nature and lead to cultural differences in the ways nature is imagined and used, how nature is represented in literature, and why landscapes are emblematic and attractive for a culture.
Distinction but not Separation: Edward Abbey’s Conceptualization of Nature. University of Tromsø, 2006.
I trace the concept of nature in the American nature writer Edward Abbey to its Calvinist origins, show parallels to the Norwegian writer and philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe, and discuss Abbey’s use of nature as well as his aesthetic and social arguments for preservation.
“The Cultural Signification of Heterotopian Spaces of Nature”. In: American Studies in Scandinavia. Vol. 39:2 (fall, 2007).
This article proposes a classification of the culturally mediated experience of natural space, using Foucault’s concept of heterotopia.
“Ecomuseums and the new commons”. In: Ecomuseums 2012. Green Lines Institute 2012 (11 – 20).
This article describes the relation between ownership, territoriality, community, and heritage at the example of several ecomuseums and mining museums, preserving a vernacular heritage and challenging heritage representation in the traditional museum.
Bigell, Werner; Chang, Cheng. “The Meanings of Landscape: Historical Development, Cultural Frames, Linguistic Variation, and Antonyms.” Ecozona 2014; Volume 5 (1). ISSN 2171-9594. (84 – 103).
This article discusses the variations of the term “landscape” in English and other Germanic languages and compares it with different conceptualizations of landscape in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai.
“Fear and Fascination: Anti-Landscapes between Material Resistance and Material Transcendence”. In David E. Nye and Sarah Elkind (eds.): The Anti-Landscape (Studies in Environmental Humanities). Rodopi 2014 (129-148).
This article explores the ambivalent cultural processes that mark spaces as non- or anti-landscapes but also generate attraction towards them.
“Allotment and Community Gardens: Commons in German Cities.” Brill Academic Publishers 2015 (2) ISBN 978-90-04-29884-2. ISSN 2211-5846. (102 – 130)
This article describes the historical conditions (industrialization) that motivated the German life reform movement at the end of the 19th century, whose proletarian branch was the allotment garden movement. There is a discussion of the processes creating community in the urban garden colonies as well as their integration into urban space today, comparing this with the new community garden movement.
Articles accepted and scheduled for publication
“Beauty as ideological and material transcendence”. In: New Essays in Aesthetics and Ecocriticism (working title), edited by Peter Quigley and Scott Slovic. Publication scheduled for 2016 (Indiana University Press).
This article discusses the concept of landscape beauty and proposes a wider meaning of transcendentalism, to accommodate spiritual, material, traditional, and utopian aspects of beauty.
“The nation in the universal language of eco-globalism”. In: Mark Luccarelli (ed.). Studies in Environmental Humanities series. Brill/Rodopi, expected publication 2018.
This article discusses the importance of scale in the environmental discourse and argues that the frequent absence of the national level, resulting in a shortcutting of global and local (“glocal”) scales, is problematic because it impedes processes of governing the environment and neglects that relations to nature, expressed in landscape uses and preferences, are largely formed by national imaginaries and traditions.
“Norwegian friluftsliv (“outdoor life”) as an interpassive ritual” (Studies in Environmental Humanities series. Brill/Rodopi, expected publication 2018.). This article discusses the social dimension of friluftsliv, suggesting it can be seen as a ritual where its practitioners play a role, thus preserving the 19th century ideal of the flâneur.
“Reading Henry David Thoreau’s essay ‘Walking’ in Palestine”. This article will be based on a course that I taught on the West Bank. My students read Thoreau’s essay “Walking” and used it for a reflection on their own walking practices, seen in their cultural context.
Article on Russian summer camps for children (fieldwork in 2016). The aim is to elucidate the traditional educational aims, investigate how nature is used and how it is taught, and how children socialize. Concepts discussed are individuality (civic vs. utilitarian), the changing of places in summer, the Soviet cult of childhood, and the compartmentalization of education (school and camps).
Article on teaching American literature in non-Western Environments. I argue that there is a need to investigate the cultural biases and ideological underpinnings in both the choice of literature and in the use of literary theory.
I have earlier investigaged intercultural differences and cultural patterns in the use and perception of nature, starting from my dissertation on the American nature writer Edward Abbey. I have written about ecomuseums, beauty in vernacular landscapes, the varying meaning of landscape, anti-landscapes, German allotment gardens, Norwegian outdoor life, and the role of national imaginaries in environmentalism. Currently I am working on the question how intercultural communication can form a part of English teaching. There are two main problem areas in this field: First, the fact that while English is a global language, the meaning of many concepts (such as "family") derives from the particular cultural contexts of its speakers. Second, the way literature is chosen and interpreted in the West (using for example poststructuralist or related theoretical approaches) is ideologically charged, which becomes apparent when these approaches are used in a non-Western context.
I have taught English and German in Germany, Norway, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, and Palestine (West Bank), organized course excursions (Russia, China, UK). I have taught short courses and given guest lectures in China (University of Hainan), Uruguay (Universidad de la Republica), and Thailand (Khon Kaen University and Udon Thani Rajabhat University). I develop tools and stragegies for online cooperation, involving my teacher education students in Alta. One example is that my students have to interview English teacher education students in Russia and Thailand and exchange practice teaching experiences. The aim is to gain a broader understanding of language teaching through a comparative approach and to become aware and being able to communicate one's own values and institutional frameworks regarding education in general and language teaching in particular.
Member of research group
- 2008: Doctoral degree (dr. philos.) in American literature from the University of Tromsø.
- 1988 – 1994: Diplom (MA-equivalent) in English and Spanish with a specialization in medical translation at the University of Mainz, Department for Applied Linguistics and Cultural Studies in Germersheim, Germany.
- 1990 – 1991: Exchange student at the University of Texas at El Paso.
- 1994 – 1995: Guest student at the University of Bergen, Norway.
University teaching experience
- 2010 – Present. Associate professor at the University of Tromsø, English Department campus Alta.
- 2009 – 2010. Assistant professor at the Arab American University—Jenin, Palestinian Territories of the West Bank, Modern Language Department.
- 2008 – 2009: Associate professor at the American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, American Studies Department.
- 2005 – 2008: Lecturer at the University of Matanzas, Cuba, Language Department.
- 1996 – 2005: Assistant professor at Nesna University College, Norway.
- 1995 – 1996: Assistant professor at the University of Mainz, Department for Applied Linguistics and Cultural Studies in Germersheim, Germany.
Selection of courses taught: American Studies, Intercultural Communication, Listening and Speaking, Academic Writing, American Media, Literature of Migration, American Nature and Travel Writing, Literary Criticism, Introduction to Linguistics, German Language and Culture, English – German Translation, Norwegian for Beginners.
- Guest editor of the Northern Nature issue (2015) of the literary journal Ecozona.
- Organizer of the ASANOR (American Studies Association Norway) conference in Alta in 2014.
- Co-organizer of the interdisciplinary conference “Nature and Culture” at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk in 2012.
- Founding member of NIES (Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies).
- Member of the research group Friluftsliv at UiT, Faculty of Sports, Tourism, and Social Work.
- Organization of study trips to Russia and China, to compare English teaching in schools.
Non-academic work and experience
- 2008: Kuoni Scandinavia Guide School (tour guiding course).
- 2000-2001: Co-founder of the travel agency ZAP-Reisebegleitservice in Freiburg, Germany offering trips to Mallorca, Spain, for handicapped and care-dependent customers.
- 1988 – 1994: Part-time work as a nurse at Kreiskrankenhaus Germersheim, Germany.
- 1987 – 1988: Work as a nurse at the Medical Department of the University of Düsseldorf, Germany.
- 1984 – 1987: Nursing education at the Medical Department of the University of Düsseldorf.