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Anna Karlskov Skyggebjerg

Choices of texts for literary education

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This paper charts the general implications of the choice of texts for literature teaching in the Danish school system, especially in Grades 8 and 9. It will analyze and discuss the premises of the choice of texts, and the possibilities of a certain choice of text in a concrete classroom situation. The teaching of literature has a double bind. On the one hand, there is a subject (Danish) and a curriculum with a certain type of texts with cultural and even national connotations, and the limits of the choice of texts and curriculum are decided by the state. On the other hand, there are some concrete readers with literary interests, competences, possibilities, needs, etc. Generally speaking the criteria for the choice of texts for teaching literature in Danish schools have been dominated by considerations for the subject and Literature in itself. The predominant view of literature comes from literature studies at universities, where criteria concerning language and form are often more valued than criteria concerning character and content. This tendency to celebrate the formal aspects and the literariness of literature is recognized in governmental documents, teaching materials, and in the registration of texts for examinations. Genres such as poetry and short stories, periods such as avant-garde and modernism, and acknowledged and well-known authorships are often included, whereas, representations of popular fiction and such genres as fantasy, sci-fi, and biography are rare. Often, pupils are only exposed to these genres through reading in their leisure time.
The gap between reading culture inside and outside the school system is not new, but still very interesting to reflect on. Both Louise Rosenblatt (The reader, the text, the poem, 1978) and Judith Langer (Envisioning Literature, 1995; Envisioning Knowledge, 2010) spoke about different reading strategies and developing engaged readers. While they aimed at combining objective and subjective reader positions, neither of them was very concerned about the choice of texts.
The key questions of this paper are: How does the choice of texts affect the possibility for positioning pupils/young adults ? What does the choice of texts mean for pupils’/young adults’ possibilities as readers and individual interpreters? How are the pupils’ potentials for envisioning and engaging in literature with certain choices of texts?
Original languageEnglish
Publication year5 Jun 2015
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2015
Event10th IAIMTE conference - SDU, Odense, Denmark
Duration: 3 Jun 20155 Jun 2015


Conference10th IAIMTE conference

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