University AffiliationDepartment of Germanic Languages and Literatures

About Dr. Östlund

David Östlund is a historian. He grew up in northern Sweden, where the sun barely reaches over the horizon in December and barely goes down in June – leaving a mysterious sort of daylight by midnight. His home institution is Södertörn University, Stockholm. Within Scandinavian academia, “History of Ideas” (intellectual history) is an independent discipline. This is his background. As an academic teacher David has been dealing with the entire Western tradition of thought. He has also been teaching a broad range of more specialized courses, from the history of economic ideas to the history of aesthetics. Among other things, he has created courses on thinkers like Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Mead, and W.E.B. Du Bois. In recent years, he has spent a substantial part of his time as a teacher-educator. He is the coordinator of internationalization within the teacher education programs at Södertörn University. A major part of his research interests is focused on the interplay between ideas of social reform and ideas of industrial efficiency in the US and in Sweden from the late 19th century through the postwar era. Another part of his writings has dealt with basic issues concerning the task of doing intellectual history – questions about how to write the history of human thought. His most recent article in English is related to the latter theme. It is available online:


David has taught at the U of M twice before, in 2004 and 2011. The first time, he stayed with his family at the Telluride House, which became a cherished place in the family history. Thus, to David 1735 Washtenaw Avenue feels like home. During fall 2017, David is on sabbatical, doing research. He will mainly deal with industrial relations in the US and Sweden, in particular the American intellectual background to Sweden’s era as a symbol of labor peace (in conjunction with industrial efficiency) during the decades after 1938. In the Winter Term 2018 David will teach a course within the Scandinavian Program at the U of M, titled “Crystal Ball of Modernity: Sweden’s path as a global comparison case”.