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61 | décembre 2012
Enseignement et littérature dans le monde

Education and literature in the world
Enseñanza y literatura en el mundo
Edited by Emmanuel Fraisse

“What is literature ?” Sartre asked the day after the war, and in 1969 Barthes replied: “Literature is what gets taught, one aspect, that’s all.”
This is the starting point for this special focus of the Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres, devoted to literature as taught in schools in eight countries that are extremely diverse in terms of size, economic situation, history and educational culture: China, Denmark, the United States, France, Haiti, Quebec, Russia and Senegal. This is most likely one of the first times that such a subject has been addressed in a generalist education journal.
Closely tied in with “values”, language learning and speaking and writing proficiency, literature and its teaching form one of the foundations of instrumental, intellectual, civic and moral education for pupils everywhere.
What remains to be seen is what this “literature” is and what educational and instrumental purposes, explicit or implicit, are given to it. The literary canon studied by pupils is never neutral – on an ideological level or aesthetic one.
The articles highlight the ambiguity of the relationship between language and literature at school, which reflects the complexity of linking language and culture. How does this standardisation, imposed or suggested by the school, take shape through tools and exercises in practice? What are the expected practices of pupils throughout their schooling?
For all that it is considered fundamental – if only in terms of hours and stages – this aspect of education is in no less of a crisis worldwide. Many articles address the subject and prompt a necessary line of thinking: can language, literature and culture still be addressed separately today?