Alike and Unlike. Changes in the Image of Strindberg in Swedish Senior High School Education

Sten-Olof Ullström

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

Abstract

This doctorial thesis deals with the changes in the image of August Strindberg in Swedish Senior High School Education. Strindberg represents the breakthrough of modern literature in Sweden, where the bounds between public and intimate spheres are challenged. The study investigates how and why the image of a writer is qualified or disqualified for inclusion in a national literary discourse of teaching, and why this image varies. Strindberg’s role illustrates how literary meaning is constructed in higher mother tongue education. Learning and literary understanding are viewed as dialogical, communicative processes. The literary classroom is, however, an arena for a process of sociocultural reproduction and socialization, where linguistic actions also serve non-communicative purposes and various relations of power influence the teaching process. The present study begins around the 1880s. The bulk of the thesis deals with the period beginning around the early 1900s up to the mid-sixties, but it also includes outlooks on teaching today. The research is based on a critical analysis of texts produced for or within literary education. Passages or chapters on Strindberg in frequently used textbooks of literary history are discussed, as well as works of Strindberg represented in school and text selections in various anthologies. Additionally, close to 300 student essays on Strindberg were retrieved from seven or more educational institutions, dated in 1912, 1923, 1943, 1950, and 1960. The approach to Strindberg in school became ambiguous and divided. In the beginning, textbooks and educational institutions tended to ignore his literary authorship. Later on, literary works with themes from national history were given priority, but this canon was mainly studied with a number of important reservations. A qualitative inconsistency in Strindberg’s writings was brought forth as a basis for selection. Many times, this artistic inconsistency was attributed to Strindberg’s psyche. Taken together, the student essays present a picture of how different conceptions of Strindberg have been reproduced and constructed at the senior high school level during half a century. Despite the many stereotypes, the student essays stand out as more or less heterogeneous and reflect, to varying degrees, multiple voices. Even though the teaching of literature often has strongly influenced the reading pre-ferences of the predominant culture, to some students, it has also sometimes had a meaning-making function.
Translated title of the contributionAlike and Unlike. Changes in the Image of Strindberg in Swedish Senior High School Education
Original languageSwedish
QualificationDoctor
Awarding Institution
  • Comparative Literature
Supervisors/Advisors
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2002 Jun 8
Publisher
Print ISBNs91-7139-547-4
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2002-06-08
Time: 10:15
Place: Lärarhögskolan i Malmö, sal E122

External reviewer(s)

Name: Smith, Jon
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Høgskolen i Sør-Trøndelag, Avd f lærerutdanning og tegnspråk, N-7004 Trondheim, Norge

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Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature

Keywords

  • literature criticism
  • General and comparative literature
  • Nordiska språk (språk och litteratur)
  • Scandinavian languages and literature
  • Swedish Senior High School.
  • Student essay
  • Mother tongue instruction
  • Educational history
  • Literature instruction
  • Reception of literary texts
  • Literary canon
  • Literary history
  • August Strindberg
  • Mikhail Bakhtin
  • literary theory
  • Allmän och jämförande litteratur
  • litteraturkritik
  • litteraturteori
  • Pedagogy and didactics
  • Pedagogik
  • didaktik

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