Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Seminar: Literary development reconsidered – Perceiving literary education in an ethical frame

20.09.2023 - 22.09.2023
SIG-Arle Logo

SIG-Arle Logo


 Special Interest Group

Research on Literature Education

The seminar will explore the theme of literary development from different angles. An overarching perspective concerns the reflective notion of ethics: Taking an ethical perspective draws our attention to questions of good life and its presuppositions. This may include reflections on what we consider as morally appropriate and why, but the perspective is far wider. Questions of sustainability, of life not only as an exclusive point of reference for human beings, but also of the so-called natural environment are to be included. Also, our diversified social environments as well as an awareness of global aspects of (in)justice challenge reflections on what to expect and what to aim at. Ethical notions are often central for children and adolescents as they relate more and more to their social environments. The Fridays-for-Future-movement may serve as a strong example for the far-reaching urgency of their concerns.

Literature education has traditionally been framed by concepts of identity formation: Encounters with literature are expected to contribute to personal growth and social awareness. Also, literature education is expected to strengthen participation and democratic citizenship through dealing with literature. Such expectations call for explorations of literature education in the light of an ethical frame. Research on literary development has since its early beginnings linked the engagement of learners with literary texts to the formation of identity and personal growth and, in more recent approaches, to the way they become members of society. Conceptions of literary development and literary socialization have since further elaborated on the complex interplay between the themes and structures of literary texts, individual development and the social practices and norms that shape and motivate reading processes. When it comes to the question of literary development in the light of social participation and responsibility, it is especially the question of the readers’ interaction with literary characters and perspectives that has been discussed.

While the literariness and specific structure of literature in existing models rather comes into play in later stages of development, it would be promising to explore the potential of contemporary literature especially as works of fiction with own modes of communication to negotiate current pressing topics such as sustainability, democratic citizenships and intercultural relationships with student readers. Also, more canonical works can be reconsidered with the aim of tracing their potential for reflecting on the complex relationships we find ourselves in. The same holds true for those literary texts and genres that have traditionally given form to perceptions of our natural environments, such as large parts of poetry. A particularly strong offer of literature seems to be its reflective potential. At the same time critical approaches have helped us trace manipulative forces of literary texts. One aim thus would be to enable students not only to engage in but also to critically assess the offer of the arts and works of literature with respect to how we relate to the worlds around us and beyond and how our perceptions might be shaped by encounters with literature. What are presuppositions of such developments with learners? These explorations also call for reconsidering the notion of literary development as culturally shaped development.



Associate Professor Sofia Ahlberg, Uppsala University, Sweden

“Confronting the Curse: Teaching Literary Magic in the Face of Ecological Crisis”

This talk takes inspiration in the fascination children and young adults have for the power of magic to overcome great adversity and to redress injustice. A question I ask is, how does literature endow young readers with their own power to understand their world, to communicate their insights, as well as to collaboratively imagine and create other worlds generally held to be impossible?


Dr. Julia Dietrich, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

“Exploring literature from ethical perspectives”

The lecture attempts to systematize how, from a philosophical-ethical point of view, ethical questions and literature, literary studies and their didactics are connected or can be interrelated respectively. A focus will be on the question of how ethical questions can be specifically searched for, explicated, and dealt with in a theory-based manner in research and teaching, and how the various disciplinary approaches can benefit from each other.


Please find details for the event, proposal and abstract submission in the call for proposals.

Abstract submission is open until April 1, 2023: https://www.conftool.net/ldr2023/

Notification of accepted abstract will be announced by May 1, 2023.


Professor, Dr. Irene Pieper, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Dr. Heidi Höglund, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Dr. Helen Lehndorf, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany





Zeit & Ort

20.09.2023 - 22.09.2023

Freie Universität Berlin,
Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie
Didaktik der deutschen Sprache und Literatur

Habelschwerdter Allee 45
D – 14195 Berlin,

Weitere Informationen