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Contribution to this year's AILA conference

"Literature and Democratic Education" - Symposium held by Prof. Christiane Lütge and Dr. Thorsten Merse


With this symposium, Prof. Lütge and Dr. Merse will explore the intricate relationship between literature and democratic education in foreign language education contexts. We are pleased to welcome Prof. Amos Paran (University College London, Institute of Education) with his keynote on "Democratising Literature in the Foreign Language Classroom: The Role of Teachers and Teacher Educators".

A range of presentations will enrich the symposium: 

Hannah De Mulder, Leiden University
“Values and valuable narratives: Relationships between children’s exposure to narratives and their moral orientation”

Caroline Neves, University of Cape Town
Janaína Conceição, University Of São Tomé And Príncipe
“Pedagogical materials promoting critical thinking and democratic culture: the use of poem in foreign language classes”

Vitor Ferreira, Federal University of Rio De Janeiro
“Dialogical meanings in the city by literary and musical arts”

Marta Janachowska-Budych, Adam Mickiewicz University
“'It’s unbelievable how well you speak German!' Learning (about) Democracy in and through Language in FL classes with Transcultural Literature”


Abstract: In engaging with literary texts, readers participate in fictional worlds that imagine and (re)negotiate social, cultural and political lives in manifold, vivid ways. Genres such as dystopian fiction, young adult drama or political poetry take up current pressing- sometimes highly controversial- issues and explore (potential) sociopolitical realities and futures, ranging from desirable to utterly daunting. Exploring such texts in FL education provides a promising stimulus to reflect on and work towards democratic culture, sociocultural diversity and individual agency- alongside learning a foreign language. Here, the Council of Europe's 2018 Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture presents a timely conceptual basis on which teachers can ground such engagement and inquiry. This symposium interrelates current trajectories in FL learning, literature teaching and democratic education. As such, we are interested in the ways learners can experience fictional encounters with themes such as participation, equality and visibility of individual identities, groups or communities. We therefore invite conceptual and empirical contributions related to topic- and genre-related aspects of literature, selecting suitable texts for democratic education, classroom projects and experiences of using literature for democratic education, and the formulation/application of literary competences relevant to sociopolitical inquiries based on diverse literatures.