N.F.S. Grundtvig and The Concept of Woman: A Conceptual and Political History of the 19th Century

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Lone Kølle Martinsen


Aarhus University


DKK 621,804




Monograph Fellowships


My project is about the Danish concept of woman (kvinde).Traditionally, Danish women’s history is set to begin in 1871 with the establishment of Dansk Kvindesamfund (Danish Womens Society) but my research shows that this history can be traced further back in time if we depart from conceptual history and not political history. The German scholar Reinhart Koselleck who developed conceptual history, was occupied with the question of how language transforms ideas of our world. My point is similar: I want to verify how the concept of kvinde transformed history and that Grundtvig played a crucial part in this development. Thus, the ambition of the proposed project is to write Danish women’s history back to an earlier chronology, situating Grundtvig centrality in this development.


My project may help explain the relative success of the Nordic women’s movement in a historical perspective. My project can provide the basis for comparative perspectives with other Nordic countries, as well as with Europe in general, since the concept of kvinde has developed differently in different countries. The concept of woman is a political history with strong ties to other political concepts such as people (folk), nation,and democracy. Moreover, the role of N.F.S. Grundtvig is important, since my thesis is that he helped to transform the concept of woman (kvinde) in his lifetime. A concept, that was later taken over in 1871 by The Danish Womens Movement. Thus the project will shed new light upon one of the most towering figures in Danish intellectual life.


The digitization of Grundtvigs publications, grundtvigsværker.dk, are indispensable for my work. The digitization heralds a paradigmatic shift in the Grundtvig research since the digital methods that I use can provide the basis for research that has been impossible to conduct until now. Apart from grundtvigsværker.dk I use traditional sources to conduct my research, such as newspapers, letters and official sources.

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