Abstract: Skribent i Svensk-Amerika. Jakob Bonggren, journalist och poet.
(Writer in Swedish-America. Jakob Bonggren, Journalist and Poet.)
Anna Williams, Skrifter utgivna av Avdelningen för litteratursociologi
vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen i Uppsala, nr 26. 1991
256 pp. Uppsala ISBN 91-85178-21-7. ISSN 0349-1145.
(Swedish text with a summary in English.)
The purpose of the thesis is to study the literary activity of the Swedish-American immigrant group and more closely scrutinize one of its better-known and influential literary writers, the journalist and poet Jakob Bonggren (1854–1940). The consequences of Bonggrens cultural remove and transposition to a new literary field are examined. He is placed in a larger context – as a representative of the literary elite in the Swedish-American public forum, where the literature conveyed a cultural view and an ideology that were strongly dependent on ethnic consciousness in Swedish-America, especially within the educated middle class. The example of Bonggren helps illustrate the function of Swedish-American literature in creating an ethnic identity. The study deals mainly with the period from 1880 through the 1930s, when Bonggren was professionally active. This time span also coincides with the cultural flowering of Swedish-America (approximately 1880–1920).
Bonggren's ambition to make a career in Sweden is analyzed, and it proves that his investment in a cultural and literary capital was better suited to a career in Swedish-America. As a member of the cultural elite in the new culture, he changed his critical attitude toward Sweden, to fit in as a representative of a Swedish-American ideology that celebrated the native country and advocated assimilation and loyalty to the United States, but at the same time promoted ethnic consciousness and preservation of the ethnic heritage. Thus Bonggren became a member of an ethnic and literary leadership that constructed ethnicity, to define the immigrant group and defend its interests in the dominant culture. Bonggren exercised this role in his work as a journalist at Svenska Amerikanaren in Chicago, and as a celebrated poet in Swedish-America.
Keywords: Swedish-American literature, Immigrant press, Ethnicity, Sociology of literature