January 13, 2005
King Harald V, upon recommendation from the Consulate General and the Embassy, has selected Kathleen Stokker, internationally known author, lecturer and Luther College professor of Norwegian and director of Scandinavian studies, as the recipient of Norway's St. Olav's Medal in recognition of her service and achievements in strengthening the bonds between Norway and Norwegian-Americans.
Anita Helland, consul at the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Minneapolis, will present the prestigious medal to Stokker on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m. during the college's opening convocation for the spring semester. The ceremony in the Luther Center for Faith and Life is open to the public with no charge for admission. Helland will speak about Stokker's service to Norway and Norwegian-American relations. A member of the Norwegian Foreign Service since 2001, Helland has also served with the Norwegian military in the Balkans and as an information officer with the Norwegian United Nations Association.
St.Olav's Medal, instituted by Norway's King Haakon VII in 1939, is awarded in recognition of outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country. Previous Luther College recipients include Weston Noble, professor of music and director of the Nordic Choir, and Jeffrey Baker, Luther President 1996-99. John R. Christianson, historian, author and Luther professor emeritus of history, was named a Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit in 1995.
Stokker is an internationally recognized author, educator and lecturer on Norwegian and Norwegian-American folklore, culture, traditions, literature and language. She is most widely known for her top-selling books "Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land" (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000) and "Folklore Fights the Nazis: Humor in Occupied Norway, 1941–45" (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995). Her most recent book, "Remedies and Rituals: Folk Medicine in Norway and the New Land," will be published by Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2006.
Stokker is the coauthor of "Norsk, nordmen og Norge," a Norwegian language textbook, the author of two other Norwegian language textbooks, and more than 30 articles and book chapters published in academic and popular journals, magazines and books. She is the author of the Norway chapter for the six-volume "Encyclopedia of World Folklore" soon to be published by Greenwood Publishing Group. She has served as a speaker and presenter at more than 100 events at colleges, universities, educational seminars and events in North America and Europe. Through her academic and popular lecturers she has introduced many thousands of people to the customs, traditions and culture of Norway.
Stokker has been the subject of television, radio and newspaper features, including appearances on North Dakota Prairie Public Television's "Scandinavian Tradition" production, Minnesota Public Radio's "To the Best of Our Knowledge" program, a Minneapolis WCCO radio feature on her "Keeping Christmas" book, and a St. Paul Pioneer Press full-page excerpt from "Keeping Christmas." Her professional education honors include induction into Phi Beta Kappa, four NEH scholarships, stipends and grants, and three Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs grants.
A graduate of St. Olaf College, Stokker holds the master's and doctoral degrees in Scandinavian studies from the University of Wisconsin. She has been a member of the Luther College faculty since 1978, previously teaching at Moorhead State University and St. Olaf College. Stokker is a member of several professional organizations dedicated to Norwegian-American studies and culture, including Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, the Norwegian-American Historical Association, the American Folklore Society, and the American Scandinavian Foundation. She is a fellow of Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum.
This press release provided courtesy of the Luther College Public Information Office.