Chapter 13 Democratising Aristocracy

Rhetorics and Politics in Norwegian Literary Histories through the 20th Century

In: Exploring Textbooks and Cultural Change in Nordic Education 1536–2020
Author: Mads B. Claudi

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Abstract

The chapter probes into the relationship between politics and pedagogics, asking how Norwegian literary history textbooks reflect shifting political and ideological currents through the 20th century. Analysing how the roles, functions and images of the author change throughout the century, the chapter explores how the emergence of Norwegian social democracy impacts on a pedagogic genre highly associated with the establishing and maintaining of a national identity. In short, the prevailing role of the author changes from being a privileged leader for the people to being its proxy. Correspondingly, there is a shift in the legitimisation of the study of literature: whereas the earlier literary histories ideologically and rhetorically are based on an aristocratic notion of educational admiration, the rhetoric of the later accounts centres around a social democratic idea of popular representation. Both shifts largely coincides with the massive restructuring and unification of the Norwegian school system in the 1970s.

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