The role of literature in the classroom

How and for what purposes do teachers in lower secondary school use literary texts?


  • Ida L. Gabrielsen
  • Marte Blikstad-Balas
  • Michael Tengberg



instructional practices, literature instruction, reading, secondary education, uses of literature, video analyses


This study investigates the use of literary texts in 178 video-recorded LA lessons across 47 lower-secondary Norwegian classrooms. It offers a systematic overview of how literary texts are read, used, and discussed across classrooms and investigates instructional practices related to literary texts and functions of texts in instruction. The results reveal a strong genre discourse across classrooms; reading literary texts is strongly connected to students' own writing, focusing on generic text features that are relevant for text across the same genre. With one exception, shared instruction did not include novels except as individual pleasure reading. Findings herein align with concerns raised by scholars about literature's role in language arts. They surface a rather reductionist use of literature across classrooms. Despite strong arguments and empirical support for students reading literature in school, such practices are poorly reflected in classrooms in this study. Our main contribution lies in the exploration of the practices by which adolescents are socialized into literary reading. We provide an exhaustive look into the everyday practices related to literary texts in language arts lessons and the ways these texts are framed, read, and discussed in education.




How to Cite

Gabrielsen, I. L., Blikstad-Balas, M., & Tengberg, M. (2019). The role of literature in the classroom: How and for what purposes do teachers in lower secondary school use literary texts?. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 19(1), 1–32.