I am discovering that there is really not a lot of criticism out there about Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter. Despite having won the Nobel, her novels don't seem to be in vogue these days, which is a shame (perhaps she would have been a good candidate for Imani's Outmoded Authors Challenge). I did a search in one of my library's general databases and came up with only 11 hits--most of them being book reviews and articles on the film adaptation from 1995 directed by Liv Ullmann (which I am still undecided as to whether I will watch it or not--I believe the film only covers the first of the three novels). I do plan on searching around a bit more. Surely scholars must have written about her novels at some point in time.
She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. You can read the presentation speech here. Of course looking at the complete list of winners there are more than a few authors that I am very unfamiliar with. How many of those authors have fallen out of vogue as well? Although Kristin Lavransdatter may not end up on any course lists here these days, she seems to be a national treasure within Norway. I wonder if her works are taught in schools in Scandinavia these days? Next July you can attend the Kristin Lavransdatter Festival of Sel. If you check out this related site you can see where Ullmann filmed her movie. I wish there were more photos (though if you click around the sites you can see a smattering of them), though you can get a sense of what the countryside might have looked like and Kristin's living environment. I like having these visual cues when I am reading something so outside my experience.
Regardless of what the scholars are studying or saying or telling us to read (or not as the case may be), I've been finding Undset a very worthy read. Anything written 80+ years ago that reads as fresh today as it must have then has stood the test of time in my book. Even Harold Bloom has included her in his Western Canon!