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The Beautiful Future of Literary Education

Conference paper
Authors Christer Ekholm
Ingrid Lindell
Published in Conference Proceedings: The Future of Education. 8th Edition. Florence, 28-29 june 2018
ISBN 9788833590202
ISSN 2384-9509
Publisher Libreria universitaria
Place of publication Florence
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Language en
Keywords Educational philosophy, Literary education, Subjectification, Ficitional narrativity
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Specific Literatures


In The Beautiful Risk of Education (2013) Gert J.J. Biesta describes how Western educational systems are increasingly becoming a landscape of control and assessment; a development produced by “a desire to make education strong, secure, predictable and risk-free”. Against this strong view, Biesta argues for “weak” one, focusing the unpredictable, the unknown: “the risk”. Education, Biesta emphasizes, isn’t only qualification and socialization, but also subjectification: an event of recognition and responsibility in relation to the Other. Such events are crucial to the creation of true citizenship, but are suppressed in the dominant educational views and practices, where teaching is conceptualized as a process aimed at producing something given beforehand. Biesta calls for a weaker attitude, where the risk of education is embraced as a beautiful one, and where teaching is set forth as “the giving of a gift the teacher doesn’t possess”. What part, then, can the reading of fictional narratives in education play, if you accept Biesta’s argument? On the basis of the educational implications of the concept of ‘gap’ we discuss the question of why, and how reading and discussing literature can make room for events of recognition and responsibility in the classroom, and thus counterbalance current tendencies of harsh instrumentalization. To this end, our ambition is to outline didactic perspectives and teaching practices consciously oriented towards a beautiful, riskful future of literary education.

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