Performing Nordic White Femininity

Two Swedish Divas in the U.S. in the Nineteenth Century


  • Hélène Ohlsson Stockholm University



Diva, nordic white femininity, performances of Swedishness, race, class, critical whiteness theories, nineteenth century, touring the U.S., Jenny Lind, Christina Nilsson


This study is an intersectional investigation of how the first two international Swedish superstars, Jenny Lind (1820–1887) and Christina Nilsson (1843–1921), performed gender, race, nationalism, and class during their respective tours of the United States of America in 1850–1852 and 1870–1872. The purpose is to chart early transatlantic performances of Nordic white femininity and Swedishness as well as to discuss the symbolical values and associations that it signaled. I will argue that Lind and Nilsson set out a template of idealized Nordic white femininity in the U.S. and that they contributed to the growing identity and self-awareness of Swedish-Americans.


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How to Cite

Ohlsson, H. (2021). Performing Nordic White Femininity: Two Swedish Divas in the U.S. in the Nineteenth Century. Nordic Theatre Studies, 32(2), 54–70.



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