Uses of Literature in the Classroom: Legitimizing Literature in Upper-Secondary Education


Dr Jeroen Dera

Time frame

September 2021 – September 2025

Project description

This project explores how the value of literature is negotiated in upper-secondary literature classrooms. It argues that to fully understand this process in L1-education, teachers’ legitimations of literature must be confronted with both their didactic practices and their students’ views on literature. Hence, the key objectives of this project are to (1) analyse how L1-teachers conceptualise the value(s) and use(s) of literature in upper-secondary contexts; (2) to examine how these legitimations are reflected in their literary-educational practices; and (3) to evaluate whether L1-teachers’ conceptualisations of the uses of literature are shared by their students.

By studying (a) teacher ideologies in relation to (b) concrete pedagogies and (c) students’ beliefs about literature, Uses of Literature in the Classroom integrates three perspectives that are often studied in isolation. The project is comprised of three interrelated studies that combine survey questionnaires with in-depth explorations of the literary-educational ideologies and practices of a panel of 20 teachers of Dutch Language and Literature. The first study will focus on L1-teachers’ conceptualisations and legitimations of literature through a national survey and a series of semi-structured interviews that elicit their beliefs about what literature is and why it should be taught in upper-secondary education. In the second study, the actual literary-didactic practices of the 20 panel teachers will be analysed by combining a discourse analysis of classroom materials with in-class observations and an institutional analysis of teachers’ text selections. The student perspective is central to the third study, which examines adolescents’ (15-18 years) conceptions of literature and its uses through a large-scale survey.

Thus, the project provides an empirical account of the uses of literature in an educational context. To impact the literary-educational field in the Netherlands, the research results will be used to design new didactic materials in collaboration with teachers and other educational stakeholders.


Literature education, Dutch Literature, Legitimations of literature, L1-education, Adolescent reading


NWO Veni Grant


Dr Jeroen Dera,