Global Studies (GLST) 653

Women's Narratives from the Circumpolar North (Revision 3)

Permanently closed, effective December 22, 2016.

View previous syllabus

Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


Women's Narratives from the Circumpolar North is the study of narratives including letters, memoirs, autobiographies, and journals written by women from the mid-1800s to the present. These women went to, or lived over an extended period of time in, the circumpolar north, that is, in any one or more of the eight countries touched by the Arctic Circle: the United States; Canada; Greenland (Denmark); Iceland; Norway; Sweden; Finland; and Russia. The focus of these narratives ranges from exploration, settlement, adventure, and work to travel and life experiences over one or more seasons in various circumpolar places. Current theories from anthropology, history, geography, gender studies, literary studies of life writings, and indigenous and northern studies provide critical frameworks for studying relevant narratives, rendering the study interdisciplinary. Meanings of "north" to indigenous women and to white women over time are explored. In considering reasons why white women ventured north, the study reveals contrasts between the women's expectations and the realities that they confronted. By beginning with narratives by Inuit and Sami women, the study confronts post- and neo-colonial attitudes and, at the same time, emphasizes the indigenous people's original occupancy of the circumpolar north. The study answers questions regarding women's reasons for going north, their contributions to evolving northern cultures, and changing attitudes towards intercultural relations and nordicity.

Course Objectives

The objectives of this course are fourfold. The course provides you the opportunity to

  1. develop critical-thinking strategies for consideration of the intersection of gender and culture in exploration, settlement, adventure, work, and travel in the circumpolar north.
  2. consider the meaning of north from various perspectives and the expectations and realities of the north for women who have gone north over time.
  3. examine changes in identification of the landscape and people of the circumpolar north over time.
  4. apply theories of orality, autobiography, travel writing, and life writing to relevant narratives by women of the circumpolar north.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Activity Weighting
200 word commentary on one of the topics listed under Writing Assignment Topics for Module 2 to Module 11 inclusive 40%
Research Assignment 1: Essay (2,500 words) (Due at the conclusion of Module 4) 20%
Research Assignment 2: Research Proposal (Due at the conclusion of Module 8) 10%
Research Assignment 3: Research Paper (3,500 words) (Due at the conclusion of Module 10) 30%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The course materials for Global Studies 653: Women's Narratives from the Circumpolar North include the items listed below. If any items are missing from your course package, please contact the Course Materials Production department at Athabasca University as soon as possible. You may call Athabasca University, toll free, from anywhere in Canada or the United States at 1-800-788-9041 and ask to speak to someone in Course Materials Production (ext. 6366). Students in the Edmonton and Calgary dialing areas are asked to call the Learning Centres to connect with the automated attendant, and then dial the four-digit extension. You may send e-mail to, or write to Course Materials Production at Tim Byrne Centre, 4001 Hwy 2 South, Athabasca AB T9S 1A4.


  • Briggs, Jean L. Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.
  • Diebitsch-Peary, Josephine. My Arctic Journal: A Year Among Ice-fields and Eskimos. New York and Philadelphia: The Contemporary Publishing Company, 1893.
  • Ehrlich, Gretel. This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.
  • Jason, Victoria. Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak: One Woman's Journey through the Northwest Passage. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 1995.
  • MacLaren, I. S., and Lisa N. LaFramboise, eds. Travels on the Athabasca, Mackenzie, Rat, Porcupine, and Yukon Rivers in 1926. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1998.
  • Murie, Margaret E. Two in the Far North. Illustrated by Olaus J. Murie. 2d ed. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1978.
  • Ross, W. Gillies. This Distant and Unsurveyed Country: A Woman's Winter at Baffin Island, 1857-1858. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997.
  • Wachowich, Nancy, in collaboration with Apphia Agalakti Awa, Rhoda Kaukjak Katsak, and Sandra Pikujak Katsak. Saqiyuq: Stories from the Lives of Three Inuit Women. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999.

Athabasca University Printed Materials

Reading File: The Reading File contains selected articles from various sources that are required reading for this course.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools:

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, September 7, 2007.