Students on campus

Literature research on breasts and sharks in picture books strengthens summer courses

Ten years ago, the department of film and literature at Linnaeus University offered its first distance learning summer course – an initiative that today has grown into eight courses. Against this background, a research anthology is now being published in which nine researchers at Linnaeus University have contributed with articles on such diverse subjects as vampires, Astrid Lindgren and sharks in picture books. The articles will be used in the teaching on future summer courses.

There has always been a strong connection to research on the summer courses offered within film and literature. The course literature used within literary genres like romance, chick lit, and fantasy is sparse, and in some cases the course literature has been written by the teachers themselves. Therefore, the teachers and researchers within these subjects have combined research and teaching in a new anthology, for which Helene Ehriander and Maria Nilsson, researchers and teachers on the courses, are guest editors.

"We have deliberately written the articles in a way that allows us to use the anthology on the summer courses. The students need to read research analyses in order to get an understanding of what they need to do to succeed with their studies. This link is important for the subject as a whole", says Maria Nilsson.

"It is about establishing a broader and deeper understanding of general literary studies. The Harry Potter books look to other cultural phenomena and other authorships. The students get the tools they need to be able to analyse and make comparisons", says Helene Ehriander.

Breasts, sharks in picture books and Lisbeth Salander

The anthology consists of nine research articles – ranging from sharks in picture books to Lisbeth Salander; from breasts and the female body in romance to Harry Potter. Linnaeus University was actually the first university in Scandinavia to offer a university course with focus on J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books – a course which ever since has received a lot of attention.

"The students do not only study Harry Potter; they are provided with a general literary studies base and knowledge. Fake news is a current topic today, but we must also know how to handle fiction. Fiction can be 'deceitful' in the way it creates ideas that sneak up on us", explains Nilsson.

The students on the summer courses come from all over Sweden and every year there are also some students taking part from abroad. There are thousands of applicants for the courses every year, which shows that there is great interest in general literary studies, children's literature, popular literature and creative writing. In addition, Helene Ehriander points out that the courses also fill an important function in preparing students for further studies.

"For many students who are, for instance, Harry Potter nerds or loved the Madicken books as children, the courses become a springboard. After a while, they become hungry for more knowledge and studies and a door is opened which they did not know even existed", Ehriander concludes.

About the anthology

The issue can be read online (only in Swedish) and is also available as a printed book in Linnaeus University's magazine HumaNetten. Helene Ehriander and Maria Nilsson are the initiators of the issue and have served as guest editors, together with Hans Hägerdal who is the chief editor.


Helene Ehriander, +46470-70 86 94
Maria Nilsson, +46470 70 89 16