Abstract: Gymnasiets litterära kanon. Urval och värderingar i läromedel 1910–1945.

(The Literary Canon of the Swedish Senior High School. Selection and Values in Teaching Media 1910–1945).

Lars Brink, Skrifter utgivna av Avdelningen för litteratursociologi
vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen i Uppsala, nr 30. 1992

320 pp. Uppsala. ISBN 91-85178-23-3.
(Swedish text with a summary in English.)

One main purpose of this study is to find out if there was a literary canon, consciously or unconsciously agreed upon, in the Swedish senior high school during the period 1910–1945. If such a canon existed, the subsequent purpose is to examine what form it took. Another main purpose is to study the process by which a canon is formed. The dissertation tries to ascertain why selections, values, and main focuses were changed in schoolbooks. It also tries to determine what the main motives for publishing new books were.

The study covers three basic schoolbook categories used in the teaching of Swedish literature: anthologies, textbooks, and school editions of complete literary works. It concentrates on those authors who received the largest number of pages in the various schoolbooks. It also focuses on those books most often used in Swedish instruction in the senior high school.

To ascertain what books were most frequently used, the annual reports from individual high schools have been examined. The examination is limited to the school years 1910/11, 1920/21, 1930/31, 1940/41, and 1945/46. Four textbooks and four anthologies are analysed. Also the role of the school editions is examined. Frequency lists of authors and literary works from the present study are compared with similar reading lists from other studies.

The concept canon is discussed and related to German and American canon analysis. The differences between a descriptive and a normative usage are identified. It is argued that a canon is always influenced by interests that are not just literary. The concept canon is linked to the concept literacy. An overall picture of the literary canon of the senior high school is given, taking the selections in the anthologies as a starting point, but adding the results from earlier chapters on anthologies and textbooks. A picture is also given of what is excluded from the canon.

The final chapter sums up the answers to the question of why new schoolbooks were published. It also gives a composite profile of the schoolbook editors, their background, their role in the school system as well as their aspirations. Finally the reasons for the dramatic changes in the senior high school canon after 1945 are discussed.

Keywords: Sociology of Literature, History of instruction in the Mother Tongue, Curriculum History, Educational History.