1.2 Literature didactics

Literature didactics is concerned with the use of lyrical, dramatic and narrative texts from the different periods of English language literature as well as images, audio plays, films, TV formats and hypertexts in foreign language teaching. Courses on literature didactics deal with the aims that can be achieved by working with literary text in foreign language classes: Which communicative, literary and intercultural competences can be fostered through the use of literature? In this, the term ‚text‘ is interpreted broadly to include film and new media. Furthermore, analytical as well as action- and production-oriented methods of teaching literature are combined and can be explored by students: this means that the courses deal with the question of how to foster different competences in foreign language literature classes effectively.
The main interests of literature didactics firstly correspond to developments in the domain of literary studies (e.g. concerning research on processes of reading and comprehending texts or the discussion of different literary theories). Secondly, literature didactics is informed by developments within the branch of foreign language teaching (e.g. learner-orientation, action-orientation, competence-orientation). Literature didactics deals with the significance of literature in educational processes, curricula, educational aims, study contents and in the overall orientation of foreign language literature teaching; it explores the teaching and learning processes that are part of these aspects, develops theories and concepts enabling a methodic organisation of literature classes, and thinks about the didactic competences required of teachers in foreign language literature classes. It considers its objective to be the meaningful use of literary texts both as subject and medium of foreign language teaching.
Dealing with literary texts is the main interest of literature didactics. This overlaps with the interests of language and culture didactics insofar as teaching literature also pursues linguistic and (inter-/trans)cultural aims, e.g. the fostering of inter/transcultural understanding (‚Fremdverstehen‘). Literature is a central part of foreign language classes: learners should acquire literary competences (improve reading comprehension, get acquainted with genres, define functions of literature) and should be able to interact in the foreign language through literature, last not least also in order to grow as individual persons.
Giving students the opportunity of exploring the potential of concrete texts and methods as well as different media for the teaching and learning of a foreign language, we offer project cooperations with different schools and non-formal educational institutions in Göttingen in some of our courses. There have been, for instance, global simulations, picture book projects, reading projects, film projects and numerous theatre projects in the last semesters (view section 'cooperations'‘). In order to further stress the importance of literary studies for foreign language teaching, we work closely with the departments of English and American literary studies in Göttingen when planning our courses.


Further reading on this topic:

  • Bredella, Lothar & Hallet, Wolfgang (Eds.) (2007). Literaturunterricht, Kompetenzen und Bildung. Trier : WVT.
  • Hall, Geoff (2005). Literature in Language Education. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hallet, Wolfgang (2017). „Literaturdidaktik.“ In: Surkamp, Carola (Ed.). Metzler Lexikon Fremdsprachendidaktik. Ansätze - Methoden - Grundbegriffe. 2nd ed. Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler.
  • Hallet, Wolfgang & Surkamp, Carola (Eds.) (2015). Handbuch Dramendidaktik und Dramapädagogik im Fremdsprachenunterricht. Trier: WVT.
  • Hallet, Wolfgang, Surkamp, Carola & Krämer, Ulrich (Eds.) (2015). Literaturkompetenzen Englisch: Modellierung, Curriculum, Unterrichtsbeispiele. Seelze: Klett/Kallmeyer.
  • Henseler, Roswita, Möller, Stefan & Surkamp, Carola (2011). Filme im Englischunterricht: Grundlagen, Methoden, Genres. Seelze-Velber: Klett-Kallmeyer.
  • Surkamp, Carola & Nünning, Ansgar (2016). Englische Literatur unterrichten 1: Grundlagen und Methoden. 4th ed. Seelze-Velber: Klett-Kallmeyer.
  • Surkamp, Carola & Nünning, Ansgar (2018). Englische Literatur unterrichten 2: Unterrichtsmodelle und Materialien. 3rd ed. Seelze-Velber: Klett-Kallmeyer.