Beata Agrell

About Beata Agrell

Born 1944, PhD Gothenburg 1983, professor of literature in Gothenburg 2000–2011; senior professor 2012–2013.

Previous research

Research areas: experimental Swedish 1960s novels, short fiction, genre history and early Swedish workers' prose. Recurring theoretical perspectives are reception theory and response aesthetics, genre problems, rhetoric, narrativity, phenomenology and semiotics, i.e. approaches that pay attention to how different literary approaches and rhetorical strategies can prepare or guide the reading of a text in a certain culture. See further e.g. her chapter “Between the lines? To the question of the text's appellative structure" in the book Främlingskap och främmandegöring: förhållningssätt till skönlitteratur i universitetsundervisningen, eds. Staffan Thorson & Christer Ekholm (Gothenburg: Daidalos, 2009), p. 19–148.

Present research

Working-class narrative

At present Agrell investigates the relationship between ideology, aesthetics and practical function in the first generation of Swedish working-class narrative around 1910 (e.g. Dan Andersson, Martin Koch, Maria Sandel, Karl Östman). The main question concerns how literary and political strategies are built together with a focus on evoking an active and engaged reader's role, as well as the different publication and functional contexts the texts were placed in. Other questions concern how genre traditions from different cultural areas intersect and work together to develop workers' literature as a in Swedish wit new type of texts. See further e.g. her book Maria Sandel and folk education. Not just sense and knowledge – the importance of education in Maria Sandel's writing (Stockholm: Maria Sandelsällskapet, 2019) . This research is largely conducted within the Network for Nordic Workers' Literature (NordArb),

Devotional narratives

A related area concerns didactics and aesthetics in early 20th century pious stories (for example Betty Janson, Christina Nilsson, Mathilda Roos, Hilma Svensson-Graner, Anna Ölander), especially in the encounter with contemporary labor movements. It is examined how a literary form was used for educational purposes, what type of education is involved and in what functional contexts. One assumption is that these texts work with an indirect communication that conveys existential insights that can hardly be conveyed discusively, and that embodied fictional narrative here plays a central role. Furthermore is studied how the re-use of the traditional devotional literature intersects with the idiom of the secular novel and how this intersection entails a different kind of didacticism than that of the purely edificational literature. Overall, the relationship between aesthetically oriented fictional literature and existentially oriented practical literature is highlighted. See further e.g. Agrell’s article “Christian philanthropy, or political class struggle? Imaginations of Socialism and Christianity in Swedish prose fiction of the early 1900s”, in Socialist Imaginations. Utopias, Myths, and the Masses, ed. S. Arvidsson, J. Benes & A. Kirsch (Abingdon, Oxon & New York: Routledge, 2018), pp. 116–166.