Technology and the shaping of a Swedish national identity in the educational work of Selma Lagerlöf, 1900-1907
2015 (English)In: History of Education and Children's Literature, ISSN 1971-1093, E-ISSN 1971-1131, Vol. 10, no 1, 299-316 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In the early 1900s Sweden saw an unprecedented societal transformation through ongoing industrialisation, urbanisation, democratisation and new technologies. In 1906-1907 the celebrated Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf published a book subsequently read by thousands of elementary school children, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Although Lagerlöf’s book was mainly seen as a novel, she was commissioned to write it as a textbook in geography for the Swedish elementary school. One of the aims on the part of the commissioner – the Swedish Association of Elementary School Teachers – was for the book to induce Swedish nationalist sentiment and boost the feeling of a national identity in schoolchildren. The aim of this study is to describe and analyse how various representations of technology were utilised to create the sense of a Swedish national identity in The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. A hermeneutic method is employed to analyse the book in relation to the historical context of early 20th century Sweden. It is concluded that technology and human settlements are natural elements of the various landscapes of Sweden, thereby making them as much a part of building a national identity around the physical environment as woods, plains, lakes, animals and plants. The message of the book seems to be that technology is interwoven with society and nature in the formation of modern Sweden. It is impossible to describe the nation and impart nationalism in children without also incorporating technology; it is a human creation and as much a force in shaping the nation as other human endeavours and nature.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Macerata: Università di Macerata, Italy , 2015. Vol. 10, no 1, 299-316 p.
Children’s Books; History of Education; Nationalization; Science and Technology; Selma Lagerlöf, Sweden; XX Century
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-119696ISI: 000370984900020OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-119696DiVA: diva2:826015