När realismen blir orealistisk : Litteraturens "sanna historier" och unga läsares tolkningsstrategier
Sammanfattning: This thesis discusses challenges to teaching and learning literature arising from young upper secondary school students’ interest in and reading of contemporary literature with truth claims. The main starting-point is that something central happens to text interpretation since visual media are taking control of the understanding of the realism concept. By an overarching interpretation theory framework combined with an intermedial perspective production and reception aspects on the relation between literature/documents and authors/journalists in the current reality trend are linked in a comparative media-historical context to 19th-century realism and naturalism.My empirics are founded on material gathered in a high school class in the Social Science programme. The results of the material described in my licentiate thesis, combined with the classroom observations and group interviews on which this doctoral thesis is based, reveal a high complexity in young people’s understanding of the realism concept. In the study of the Realism period the text chosen for joint reading, Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin (1867), appears “unrealistic” to many young people. With the ambition to explain and deepen the understanding that young people’s reading of school classics does not lead to an experience of realism an analysis is made of Zola’s novel, showing that the thematic contact surfaces, which might awaken an interest, are counteracted by the author’s narrative strategies. The novel’s determinism and detailed richness create unease among the young, whose media experience is inculcated by emancipatory possibilities and quick visual cuts.The second part of the thesis discusses contemporary literature with claims on realism. Group interviews with young people fascinated by factual literature show that the truth pacts created in the encounter with these texts are often left unprocessed and unreflected on. Furthermore, the young readers’ statements support the hypothesis that the text “meaning” and status as a truth-carrier are today more and more controlled by the aggressive marketing of new literature. The thesis concludes with an analysis of the contemporary literature mentioned by the young as good examples of “true stories”. The aim is to study how the truth pacts are manifested in paratexts and texts. A comparison between original and paperback editions shows that the truth claims are always reinforced in the latter.The study results show that the traditional division of literature into fact and fiction is dissolving. The implications for teaching and learning literature that this study suggests are that the “true stories” of contempo-rary literature have an essential function to fulfil as long as the reception does not take place privately, which often leads to reproducing prejudices. Faction literature also proves a good potential for media-critical analysis within the subject of Swedish.
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