Working-Class Literature - Historical and International Perspectives

Course - first cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2020

Course Code:
KK168A revision 1
Swedish name:
Arbetarlitteratur - historiska och internationella perspektiv
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
29 January 2020
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
31 August 2020

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English B.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as part of a general degree at undergraduate level.


The aim of the course is to give students the opportunity to study working-class literatures from different periods and contexts from a historical and international perspective, with a focus on this literature’s relationship to both social phenomena and literary development from the nineteenth century until today.


The first part of the course is an introduction to the concept of working-class literature, with a focus on how it has been used in different ways in different contexts. Thereafter, working-class literatures from different countries are studied and compared. The final part of the course is devoted to the writing of individual essays.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student will:

  1. display fundamental knowledge about the concept of working-class literature;
  2. display fundamental knowledge about different kinds of working-class literature;
  3. show the ability to analyze working-class literature in different contexts, and;
  4. demonstrate fundamental understanding of central theoretical and historical debates in the academic study of working-class literature.

Learning activities

The main learning activities are: lectures, supervised independent study, the writing of analyses of literary texts with the point of departure in historical facts and theoretical concepts, peer review and on-line discussions.


The course is examined through three written assignments (2,5 credits each), and a written take-home exam (7,5 credits) in the form of a short essay. The first written assignment focuses on learning outcome 1. The second and third focus on learning outcomes 2 and 3. In order to pass the written assignments, the students must also do peer review of other students’ work. The take-home exam tests all the learning outcomes.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

  • Coles, Nicholas and Paul Lauter. 2017. A History of American Working-Class Literature. Cambridge UP. 1–7, 232–263 and 376–405.
  • Clark, Ben and Nick Hubble. Introduction. In Working-Class Writing: Theory and Practice. Palgrave McMillan. 1–6. [copies will be provided]
  • Karlsson, Mats. 2016. The Proletarian Literature Movement: Experiment and Experience. In Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. Routledge. 111–124. [copies will be provided]
  • Mkhize, Jabulani. 2010. Shades of Working-Class Writing: Realism and the
  • Intertextual in La Guma's ‘In the Fog of the Seasons' End. Shades of Working-Class Writing: Realism and the Intertextual in La Guma's ‘In the Fog of the Seasons' End. 36.4 [available through the University Library’s webpage]
  • Lennon, John and Magnus Nilsson (eds.). 2017 Working-Class Literature(s): Historical and International Perspectives. Stockholm UP. [can be downloaded for free]
  • Nilsson. Magnus. 2019. ”Working-class comics? Proletarian self-reflexiveness in Mats Källblad’s graphic novel Hundra år i samma klass.” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 10.3
  • Nilsson, Magnus. 2014. Literature and Class: Aesthetical-Political Strategies in Modern Swedish Working-Class Literature. Humboldt-Universität. 18–26 and 115–158. [copies will be provided]
  • Nilsson, Magnus and John Lennon. 2016. “Defining Working-Class Literature(s): A Comparative Approach Between U.S. Working-Class Studies and Swedish Literary History.” New Proposals 8.2, pp 39–61.
  • Perera, Sonali. 2014. No Country: Working-Class Writing in the Age of Globalization. Columbia UP. Pp. 1–19.
  • Pierse, Michael (ed.) 2017. A History of Irish Working-Class Writing. Cambridge UP. Pp. 1–36.
  • Tenngart, paul. 2019. “The Dislocated Vernacular in Translated Swedish Working-Class Fiction.”
  • Tenngart, Paul. 2016. “Local Labour, Cosmopolitan Toil: Geo-Cultural Dynamics in Swedish Working-Class Fiction.” Journal of World Literature 1.4, pp. 484–502.
  • Tokarczyk, Michell M. (ed.) 2011. Critical Approaches to American Working-Class Literature. Routledge. Pp. 1–13
  • Wright, Rochelle. 1996. “Literature Democratized: Working-Class Writers of the 1930s”. In Lars G. Warme (ed.), A History of Swedish Literature. U of Nebraska P. Pp. 333–346.
Additional literature encompassing 200 pages may be added.

Fictional works will be chosen by the students.

Course evaluation

Higher education institutions shall enable students who are participating in or have completed a course to express their experiences of and views on the course through a course evaluation to be organised by the higher education institution. The higher education institution shall collate the course evaluations and provide information about their results and any actions prompted by the course evaluations. The results shall be made available to the students (Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 1 Section 14).

Interim rules

If a course has been discontinued, or been significantly changed, the students shall, within one year of the change, be offered two re-take opportunities, in accordance with the syllabus that applied at the time of admission.

Other Information

This syllabus is a translation of a Swedish Source text.