Potentiality of literary theory in contemporary literature education

Submitted by: Aino Mäkikalli
Abstract: How do literary theory and literature education interact? This paper investigates the ways is which the theory of literature is embedded in contemporary national curriculums and in the core L1 text books of Finnish upper secondary school. In the 1970s and 80s various literary theories were in use in classroom literary instruction. Such concepts and theories, such as new criticism, psycho criticism, impressionistic, myth, and moral critique as well as reader response or feministic theory were discussed among literary scholars and teachers in professional journals (cf. Haavikko 1971; Korolainen & Mörsäri 1988). The objective was to educate students to acknowledge the history of nation’s literature and to build up their activity as readers (Kirstinä 1988, 108). Later, poststructuralist and narratologic methods arrived to Finnish L1 literature education and have mostly dominated the field ever since. At the moment, we need more discussion about the adequate approaches to literature. Whereas the focus of teaching textual discourses in classroom has moved to the direction of mediatexts and multimodalities, the implementation of teaching fictional texts (literature) has somewhat lacked theoretical discussion. I wish to argue that due to the diminishing role of literature in L1 classes we need to pay more attention to the theory behind literary education. What could be the appropriate approach to literature in teaching in order to promote reading among the young in the Finnish school system?

Keywords: literary theory, literature instruction, Finnish Upper Secondary School

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Kirstinä, Leena 1988: Lyhyt historia [Short history of literature instruction]. Äidinkielen opettajain liiton vuosikirja 1988. Helsinki: ÄOL, 106–114.
Korolainen, Tuula & Mörsäri, Hilja 1988: Lukemisen luokkakuva [Class picture of reading]. Äidinkielen opettajain liiton vuosikirja 1988. Helsinki: ÄOL.