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Niels Ingwersen Edit Profile

Scandinavian literature and folklore educator

Niels Ingwersen, Danish Scandinavian literature and folklore educator. Member Society for Advancement of Scandinavian Study (president 1969-1971), Danish Research Academy.


Ingwersen, Niels was born on May 18, 1935 in Horsens, Denmark. Came to the United States, 1965. Son of Hans Henrik and Karen (Bach) Ingwersen.


Born in Horsens, Denmark, Ingwersen studied Scandinavian literature at the University of Copenhagen, Stockholm University and the University of Oslo. In the early 1960s, Ingwersen and his wife moved to the United States, first spending a year at the University of Chicago and then, after he completed his studies in Denmark, the couple moved to Madison in 1965 where he joined the Department of Scandinavian Studies as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 1973.


His courses on Hans Christian Andersen were particularly popular. He was also visiting professor at the universities of Odense and Aarhus and at the University of California, Los Angeles. His multimedia course on Hans Christian Andersen attracted a record 873 students, later being offered through the university's public television extension.

He served almost 40 years at Madison, retiring in 2003. In addition to Hans Christian Andersen, Ingwersen's regular courses included Søren Kierkegaard as well as special attention to ballads and folktales, addressing more that 15,000 students over the years. In the Festschrift in honour of Ingwersen's retirement, Susan Brantly commented: "Niels possesses the rare talent of making complex issues seem simple, and the backbone of his teaching method is telling stories that engage students and get the message across.".


  • Ingwersen was awarded the Order of the Dannebrog in 1997 for promoting Danish literature and culture in the United States. He also received several awards for excellence in teaching and for his courses at Wisconsin-Madison.



He was a key member of the faculty, chairing Scandinavian Studies and Folklore several times and serving as president of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies Department (SASS) from 1969–1971.


Married Faith Charlene Sloniger, June 3, 1965.

Hans Henrik Ingwersen

Karen (Bach) Ingwersen

Faith Charlene Sloniger