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Att ge den andra sidan röst: Rapportboken i Sverige 1960-1980
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
2002 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation concerns what is known as the report book in Sweden between 1960 and 1980. The study aims to examine the report book as a genre and to determine whether the texts that questioned dominant social structures can also be said to contain elements that work to uphold those structures. Working from the perspective of a sociology of literature, this inquiry is strongly influenced by feminist and postcolonial theories and methods.

The dissertation includes both a genre study and close readings of three works: Jan Myrdal’s Report from a Chinese Village, Sara Lidman’s and Odd Uhrbom’s Gruva, and Maja Ekelöf’s Rapport från en skurhink. The genre analysis is based on a survey of 49 books and analyses both texts and paratexts. The survey demonstrates that a dual ambition characterizes report books: the desire to represent reality in a direct, unmediated fashion and the desire to represent a previously unknown reality—to give others a voice. These aims permeate the ways in which the works are packaged and marketed. The genre, in other words, is not constituted only by narrative techniques, but also to a great extent by the ways in which publishers profile the books. The analysis also shows that the majority of works make use of basically the same frame story, with slight modifications: a journalist/writer/scientist travels to a non-central place to gather and report facts, impressions, and voices from and about that place. Metonymical narration and montage are commonly used, but the monologue—often seen as characteristic of the report book—is not the dominant narrative technique employed.

The analysis of Report from a Chinese Village demonstrates that an author is able to influence what Edward W. Said refers to as strategic formation, but it also discusses the significance of the author’s strategic location for the work and for the image of China that emerges. Report from a Chinese Village helped change the view of China in the West, but it also works in a tradition that underwrites a Western self-understanding in which the West discovers, organizes, explains, and exploits the world around it. The comparison between audio recordings and the final text of Gruva sheds light on the process and method of book production, and shows how the author’s overall aims influenced the final product. The analysis of Gruva shows how text and image succeed in formulating a critique of the society of its time, but it also raises the possibility that the work simultaneously tells another, far less critical story. The discussion of Rapport från en skurhink revolves around the fact that the work was received and read as the long-awaited testimony of the cleaning lady, Maja Ekelöf, and that because of this reception several important aspects of the work were neglected.

In short, this dissertation argues that the report book in Sweden during the 1960s and 1970s is a highly specific expression of documentary literature characterized by the two main factors Clas Zilliacus has identified: the motto of "giving voice" and the performative signal that "this is reality." Against this background, the dissertation examines what it means to give voice, or to be a voice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bandhagen: Annika Olsson , 2002. , 323 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature, sociology of literature, postcolonial studies, gender studies, publishing history, subaltern
Keyword [sv]
Litteraturvetenskap, rapportbok, Jan Myrdal, Sara Lidman, Maja Ekelöf
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-1977ISBN: 91-628-5211-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-1977DiVA: diva2:161579
Public defence
2002-05-15, Vasasalen, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2002-04-16 Created: 2002-04-16Bibliographically approved

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