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Writing Democracy: The Norwegian Constitution 1814-2014

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Volume 2

Time and the World: Interdisciplinary Studies in Cultural Transformations

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Writing Democracy

The Norwegian Constitution 1814-2014

Edited by Karen Gammelgaard and Eirik Holmøyvik

288 pages, 4 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-504-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-505-9 eBook

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“This is an interesting and timely collection of studies of an important document that is all too often neglected by scholars of other countries and traditions.”  ·  Lynn Hunt, UCLA

Writing Democracy is a marvelous study of textual practices connected to the use of the Norwegian constitution and is thus situated in the engine room of modern Western style democracy.”  ·  Peter Hervik, Aalborg University


The Norwegian Constitution is the oldest functioning constitution in Europe. Its bicentenary in 2014 has inspired the analyses in this volume, where contributors focus on the Constitution as a text to explore new ways of analyzing democratic development. This volume examines the framing of the Norwegian Constitution, its transformations, and its interpretations during the last two centuries. The textual focus enables new understandings of the framers’ negotiations and decisions on a democratic micro level and opens new international and historical contexts to understanding the Norwegian Constitution. By synthesizing knowledge from different realms - law, social sciences, and the humanities – Writing Democracy provides a model for examining the distinct textual qualities of constitutional documents.

Karen Gammelgaard is a Professor at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her publications focus on the interface between text and context and include Transforming National Holidays: Identity Discourse in the West and South Slavic Countries, 1985–2010 (co-editor, 2013) and Tekst og historie: Å lese tekster historisk (co-author, 2008).

Eirik Holmøyvik is a Professor at the University of Bergen, Norway. He has published numerous works on the Norwegian Constitution, including Maktfordeling og 1814 (2012) and Tolkingar av Grunnlova (2013). In 2012 he was a member of the committee appointed by the Norwegian Parliament to modernize the Constitution’s language.

Subject: History (General)
Area: Northern Europe


List of Figures
Note on interdisciplinarity and stylistic conventions

Introduction: The Norwegian Constitution as a text
Karen Gammelgaard and Eirik Holmøyvik


Chapter 1. The Thing that Invented Norway
William B. Warner, Eirik Holmøyvik, and Mona Ringvej

Chapter 2. The changing meaning of “constitution” in Norwegian constitutional history
Eirik Holmøyvik

Chapter 3. The many textual identities of constitutions
Dag Michalsen


Chapter 4. The Norwegian Constitution and the Rhetoric of Political Poetry
Ulrich Schmid

Chapter 5. Constitution as a Transnational Genre: Norway 1814 and the Habsburg Empire 1848–1849
Karen Gammelgaard

Chapter 6. Discursive patterns in the Italian and Norwegian Constitutions
Jacqueline Visconti


Chapter 7. Timing the Constitutional Moment: Time and Language in the Norwegian Constitution
Helge Jordheim

Chapter 8. The Norwegian Constitution and its multiple codes: Expressions of historical and political change
Inger-Johanne Sand

Chapter 9. Norwegian parliamentary discourse 2004–2012 on the Norwegian Constitution’s language form
Yordanka Madzharova Bruteig


Chapter 10. The evolution of a public opinion text culture in Denmark-Norway 1770–1799
Kjell Lars Berge

Chapter 11. To speak what the hour demands: Framing the future of public speech at Eidsvold in 1814
Mona Ringvej

Chapter 12. Scholarly texts’ influence on the 2004 revision of the Norwegian Constitution’s Article 100
Ragnvald Kalleberg

Appendix I: Constitution for Kongeriget Norge
Appendix II: The Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway


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