Helle Egendal, M.A.

Helle Egendal, M.A.


Helle Egendal, MA, Dänischlektorin
Skandinavisches Seminar
Platz der Universität 3
D-79098 Freiburg


Wissenschaftlicher Lebenslauf

  • Helle Egendal studied German and Nordic Philology at the Universities of Aarhus in Denmark and in Freiburg and graduated with an MA in 1990. From 1986 to 1987, she was an academic assistant of the Sprachlabor of the Carolina-Wilhelmina-Universität in Braunschweig, where she taught Danish, developed teaching material and attended foreign students’ choice of language learning programs. From 1987-1990 she was a teaching assistent in German literature and language at the Universities of Aarhus and Aalborg.
  • In the period of 1989 until 2001 Helle Egendal was a lecturer of Danish at the Scandinavian Department of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg. In the academic year of 1997, she studied Comparative and German Literature at the Yale University.
  • From 2001-2017, Helle Egendal was a lecturer of German and Danish at the High School Langkaer in Aarhus in Denmark. During this period, she also arranged German-Danish cultural events, held talks om German-Danish topics and produced articles and two books: “Av, min arm. Dänisch für Deutschsprachige” and “Gattungen”.
    2006-2008: Board member of the Danish teachers of German.
    2013-2018: Ministerial supervisor of Danish Teaching Trainees.
    2016-18: Member of the Commission of the Exam Committee.
  • Since 2017, Helle Egendal has held the combined position as a lecturer of Danish and as a researcher in the Scandinavian Department of the University of Freiburg.  Her main interests are autofiction, migrant literature and multilingualism in literature. Since December 2019, she has been associated with the GRK 1767 „Faktuales und fiktionales Erzählen”.


Autofiction and multilingualism. On the subversive strategy of blending voices and languages. Samples from Danish, Swedish and German literature.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Joachim Grage, Scandinavian Department of Freiburg and Ass. Prof. Anna Sandberg, Department of English, Germanic and Romanic Studies at the University of Copenhagen.

The project

The concept of ‘autofiction’ is often discussed in terms of a single author’s multilayered voices where so-called biographic material becomes indistinguishable from fiction.
Autofiction appears to be a preferred genre for migrant literature due to its generic ambiguity offering space for negotiations of multicultural identity. Based on my readings, an important marker of this subgenre of intercultural autofiction should pay more respect to its multilingualism. Multilingualism or ‘polyglossia’ is here understood in relation to Bakhtin’s concept of heteroglossia’. In discussing his argument – that the subversive power of literature derives its force from the diversity of voices – I want to discuss polyglossia in autofiction as having the potential to create works with strong social and political appeal.
Three contemporary authors with multicultural backgrounds authors will be analyzed. They differ in respect to nationality and age, but have in common, that they appear as “angry young men”, who in their works ‘fight by words’: Danish-Palestinian Yayah Hassan with his poetry band Yayah Hassan (2013); Swedish-Tunesian Jonas Hassen Khemiri with his novel Ett öga rött (2005) and German-Turkish Feridun Zaimoglu with his novel Kanak Sprak. 25 Misstöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft (1995).
All three works give voice to the ghetto, in which per se a multitude of languages co-exist. While multilingualism in this respect is rarely seen as a lingual resource, but rather as a stigmatizing indicator of social and economic inferiority, the above-mentioned authors actually take advantage of their multilingual capacity, using it as part of a subversive aesthetic strategy, drawing on it as cultural capital (Bourdieu). The interrelation between politics and aesthetics in these works will be addressed in the terms of dissensus in Rancière’s sense.


  • Hassan, Yayah (2013) Yahya Hassan
  • Khemiri, Jonas Hassen (2005) Et öga rött
  • Zaimoglu, Feridun (1995) Kanak Sprak
  • Bakhtin, M.M. (1981). Michael Holquist ed. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Rancière, J. (2011a). Mute Speech. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Dembeck, Till/Parr, Rolf (2017) Literatur und Mehrsprachigkeit. Ein Handbuch, Tübingen: Narr. Francke Attempto Verlag.


  • ”Neuanfang des Kinos oder PR-Gag”? Vortrag im AKA der Freiburger Universität, über die Dogme 95-Filme. Freiburg. 1999.
  • „Feminismus als staatliche Angelegenheit. Das skandinavische Modell und seine Auswirkungen auf die Sprache“. (zusammen mit Prof. Dr. Damaris Nübling).Vortrag in der  Freiburger Frauenforschungs Vorlesungsreihe über Feminismen. Bewegungen und Theorien weltweit. Freiburg. 1999.
  • ”Tendenser i tysk litteratur efter Murens fald”. [”Tendenzen in der deutschen Literatur nach dem Mauerfall”.] Hovedbiblioteket. Aarhus, Denmark. November .2011.
  • “Ghetto life and political discourse. The position, role, and importance of migrant writers in Denmark”. Conference of the NSU (Nordic Summer University). Sauðárkrókur, Iceland. July 2014.
  • ”Goethe oder gar nichts. Genrepædagogik i tyskundervisningen” [Goethe oder gar nichts. Gattungspädagogik im Deutschunterricht]. Vorträge für dänische DeutschlehrerInnen. Kopenhagen, Skanderborg, Holstebro. 2017.
  •  “Voices of the ghetto. Multilingualism as a subversive aesthetic strategy in Danish, Swedish and German literature”. Annual conference of the SASS (Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study). Madison, USA. May 2019.
  • “Stimmen aus dem Ghetto. Mehrsprachigkeit als subversive ästhetische Strategie in dänischer, schwedischer und deutscher Literatur”. ATDS- Tagung (Arbeitstagung der deutschsprachigen Skandinavistik). Erlangen. September 2019.
  • “Autofiction and multilingualism. On the subversive strategy of blending voices and languages. Samples from Danish, Swedish and German literature”. “Autofiction: Theory, Practices, Cultures – A Comparative Perspective”. Conference in Oxford. October 2019.



  • “Av, min arm! Dänisch-Lehrwerk für Deutschsprachige”. Zusammen mit Stig Olsen, Mette Mygind und Carsten Erick Rasmussen (2005). Bremen: Hempen Verlag. Erscheint neu 2020.
  • “Gattungen” (2017). København: Gyldendals Forlag. Ein gattungpädagogisch orientiertes Lehrwerk für die Oberstufe am dänischen Gymnasium.


  • „Feminismus als ’staatliche Angelegenheit’. Das skandinavische Modell und seine Auswirkungen auf die Sprache“ (2000) in „Freiburger Frauen Studien 2/99“, Freiburg. 2000. S. 165-191. Zusammen mit Prof. Dr. Damaris Nübling. 
  • ”Autofiktionen i den nyere tysk litteratur” [Die Autofiktion in der neueren  deutschen Literatur] (2008) inLitteraturmagasinet Standart”  22. årgang, December 2008 .
  • Between 2008-2018 Altogether seven articles on different aspects of teaching German in Denmark. They are published in the magazin of the Danish German „WissensWert“.
  • In preparation: a chapter on “Blending Voices and Languages – Multicultural/Multilingual Autofiction.” for a book for the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing series.


  • Between 2001-2017 organizer of numerous events on German Literature and Culture in Denmark in cooperation with The Goethe Institut and Die Deutsche Kulturgesellschaft in Aarhus.

In Freiburg :

  • “Grænsen mellem værk og virkelighed” [“Die Grenze zwischen Werk und Wirklichkeit”]. A symposium on autofiction in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Freiburg. February. 2019.
  • In preparation: “Deutsch-dänische Kulturwoche in Freiburg” in May 2020

Lehrveranstaltungen (in Freiburg)

  • Seminars among others on “Minorities in Denmark”, “Multilingual authors in Denmark”; “Postcolonial issues in Danish history and literature” and “Gender and Queer Theory of contemporary Danish literature”