Since its founding in 1861, Luther College has been heavily steeped in the roots of its Norwegian founders. From Norwegian treats in the Admissions office to visits from Norwegian royalty, Luther remains dedicated to engaging with its cultural heritage and educating both students and the community on Norwegian culture and history.
The Knut Gjerset Annual Lecture has been renewed this year in honor of the bicentennial celebration of the Norwegian Constitution. The lecture "200 Years of May 17th" will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 8, in Room 102 of the Franklin W. Olin Building on the Luther campus.
A reception of Norwegian vaffler will follow the lecture in the Shirley Baker Commons in Baker Village. Both the lecture and the reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.
The first part of the lecture will be presented by Øyvind Gulliksen, professor emeritus of American Studies at Telemark University College. His lecture is titled "My Country 'Tis of Thee: The American Centennial Celebration of the Norwegian Constitution, Minneapolis-St. Paul, May 17th 1914."
Anna Peterson, Luther College assistant professor of history, will present the second part of the lecture, titled "How to Write a Constitution in 5 Weeks: The Fateful Events of Spring 1814."
The lecture is sponsored by the Luther College Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics (Scandinavian Studies), the Office of the Academic Dean and the Lectures and Fine Arts Committee.
Knut Gjerset served as a professor of history and Norwegian at Luther from 1902 to his retirement in 1934. Born in Norway and raised on a farm in Minnesota, he was a significant scholar of Norwegian and Icelandic history. His publications on the subject include "History of the Norwegian People," "History of Iceland" and the classic, "Norwegian Sailors on the Great Lakes."
Gjerset worked as the curator of the collection that would later become the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. He holds the titles Knight of the First Class of St. Olav from the Norwegian government and Knight of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon from King Christian X of Iceland.
Gulliksen has been a frequent guest lecturer at Luther since 1983. He has written numerous publications, including "Twofold Identities: Norwegian-American Contributions to Midwestern Literature" and served as the editor of "Norwegian-American Essays."
Gulliksen served as a member of the Jury of the International Ibsen Award from 2006-12. He holds a doctoral degree from the University of Bergen.
Peterson is a frequent presenter at scholarly conferences. Her academic research focuses on topics related to modern European history, including the influence of feminists, midwives and working women on the development of 20th century maternity policies in Norway and the effect of Norwegian suffrage achievements on its American counterpart.
Peterson holds a bachelor's degree from Concordia College, a master's degree from the University of North Dakota and a doctoral degree from The Ohio State University.