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Representation and interpretation: Textbooks, teachers, and historical culture
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. Dalarna University. (History and Education)
2015 (English)In: IARTEM e-journal, ISSN 1837-2104, Vol. 7, no 2, 73-99 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents a study of how contemporary Swedish lower secondary school textbooks present the emergence of the Cold War and how 10 active lower secondary school history teachers interpreted a quotation that was ambiguous in relation to the general narrative in the studied Swedish textbooks, seeking to analyse textbooks both from the perspectives of content and reception. Applying a theoretical framework of uses of history, the study finds that the narratives presented in the studied textbooks are what could be called traditional in the sense that they do not acknowledge perspective and representation in history. While the interviewed teachers generally acknowledged that textbook narratives are representations of history and contingent on perspective, few teachers extended this to include how their own views affect their interpretations, suggesting an intermediary appreciation of the contextual contingency of historical narratives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Association for Research on Textbooks and Educational Media , 2015. Vol. 7, no 2, 73-99 p.
Keyword [en]
textbooks, narrative, history didactics, reception, historical culture, uses of history, historical consciousness
Keyword [sv]
läroböcker, narrativ, historiedidaktik, reception, historiekultur, historiebruk, historiemedvetande
National Category
Research subject
history of education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-108295OAI: diva2:854864
Available from: 2015-09-18 Created: 2015-09-08 Last updated: 2016-08-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Uses of History in History Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Uses of History in History Education
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Historiebruk i historieundervisning
Abstract [en]

This compilation thesis contains an introductory chapter and four original articles. The studies comprising this thesis all concern aspects of how historical culture is constituted in historical media and history teachers’ narratives and teaching. It is argued that the teaching of history is a complex matter due to an internal tension resulting from the fact that history is both a product and a process at the same time. While historical facts, and knowledge thereof, are an important aspect of history, history is also a product of careful interpretation and reconstruction. This study analyses and discusses how history is constituted in history textbooks and popular history magazines, i.e. two common historical media, and in teachers’ narratives and teaching of history.

The study finds that the historical media studied generally tend to present history as void of perspective, interpretation and representation, suggesting this to be the culturally warranted form of historical exposition. Moreover, the teachers studied also tend to approach history as if it were not contingent on interpretation and reconstruction. These results indicate that the history disseminated in historical media and history classrooms presents history in a factual way and disregards the procedural aspects of history.

Applying the history didactical concepts of historical consciousness, historical culture and uses of history, this thesis argues that an essential aspect of historical understanding is an appreciation of the contextual contingency that characterises history. All history is conceived within a particular context that is pertinent to why and how a certain version of history is constructed. Furthermore, all history is also received within a particular context by people with particular preconceptions of history that are contextually contingent, in the sense that they are situated in a certain historical culture. Readers of historical media are members of societies and are thus affected by how history is perceived and discussed in these contexts. This thesis argues that an awareness of these aspects of history is an important factor for furthering a complex understanding of history that encompasses the tension highlighted above.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 94 p.
Umeå studies in history and education, 13
Uses of history, historical culture, historical consciousness, history education, historical media, textbooks, popular history magazines, history teachers, Historiebruk, historiekultur, historiemedvetande, historieundervisning, historiska medier, läroböcker, populärhistoriska tidskrifter, historielärare
National Category
Research subject
history of education; History; didactics of history
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-120212 (URN)978-91-7601-512-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-09-09, Föreläsningssal 4, Högskolegatan 2, 791 31, Falun, Falun, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-08-19 Created: 2016-05-11 Last updated: 2016-08-17Bibliographically approved

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