The purpose of this study has been to investigate under what conditions, to what purposes and, above all, with what content literature was taught in Swedish upper sixth form grammar schools' mother tongue teaching during 1865-1968.
The investigation has, metaphorically speaking, aimed at mapping out the course of "life" which literature has lived within the framework of this teaching.
The investigation's main source of material has been some 150 essays concerning literary subjects, written by grammar school students during 1871-1964. The essays, which arc kept in archives, were part of the Swedish academic grammar school examination, the examination which was required for university entrance. The essay material has been supplemented with investigations of official terms of reference and ordinances concerning education, pedagogical debate and leading Swedish literary research.
In chapter 1, a brief theoretical background and an account of current research in the area is given. Chapter 2 presents a qualitative and a qualitative investigation of the students' essays. By means of the qualitative investigation three dominating literary approaches arc revealed. The quantitative study charts the three literary approaches' occurrence in a large amount of essay materials (101 essays) obtained from five Swedish grammar schools. The essays, which were written before the turn of the century and a few years into the 20th century, are dominated by an idealistic approach, which sees the author as a prophet of "the truth" and the work of literature as a mirror of the world of Ideas (in Plato's definition).
During the following 3-4 decades, an empirical-historical approach dominates. This approach sees the author and the work of literature as an expression of the historical situation which they lived in and belonged to. The work of literature is seen as a depiction of the real world. The essays which were written during the latter part of the investigated period are dominated by a psychological approach. The work of literature is interpreted in the light of the author's personality and human qualities. Also the nature of literature as a symbolic description of the world, is emphasized.
Chapter 3 begins with a short review of the contents of the ordinances and terms of reference which determined the teaching of literature at Swedish grammar school level from the 1850's until the middle of the 20th century. Thereafter parallels to the essays' literary approaches, which are found in the pedagogical debate and literary research, arc described.
In chapter 4 the investigations described in earlier chapters' are analysed and explained in theoretical terms. The institutional functions of literature teaching, which have been identified by means of this study, namely the selection, legitimizing and reproduction of a literary tradition, are placed in the foreground and focused upon.
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1989. , 197 p.
1989-04-21, Sal C 2, hus C, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)