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School & Nation

Identity Politics and Educational Media in an Age of Diversity

Edited By Peter Carrier

At a time when the power of schools and both state and federal education authorities to guide young people’s sense of belonging is being challenged by multilingualism, by the claims of supra- and subnational regions and minorities, by memories of national catastrophes and crimes, and by out-of-school educational media, this collection of essays provides an apposite exploration of the ways in which shared narratives continue to be transmitted and learnt. Its authors, whose work emerged from a series of conferences organised by the French National Institute for Pedagogical Research in Lyon, Barcelona and Paris in 2010, demonstrate not only ways in which multiple disciplines (including history, literature, social and language studies) address young people’s sense of attachment, but also how challenges to educational policy are reflected in school textbooks and curricula in Algeria, Bulgaria, Catalonia, France, Galicia, Germany, Quebec, Senegal and the USA. These studies about the role of education in relation to largely tenacious but shifting national identities should appeal to specialists of education, nationalism studies, history and political science.

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Part II. Educational Media

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Part II Educational Media The Use of Literature in the Formation of French National Identity in School Teaching during the Twentieth Century Anne-Marie Chartier A recollection from a former pupil: ‘The trunk was filled to the brim with copy- books and books from Sainte-Agathe. Arithmetic, literature, workbooks, who knows what. With tenderness rather than curiosity, I began to rummage through the whole lot, rereading the dictations I still knew by heart, we had copied them out so many times! Rousseau’s “The Aqueduct”, P.-L. Courrier’s “An Adven- ture in Calabria”, “A Letter from George Sand to her son”…’ Then suddenly fiction bursts in on the scene, for the copybook with dictations contains an unpublished text, the diary in which the deceased hero reveals his secret. There is no reason not to trust here the flawless memory of Alain-Fournier writing Le Grand Meaulnes. The novel was published in 1913 but the plot is set in the 1890s. In that final decade of the century, pupils in the cours supérieur primaire (post-primary school education), who were preparing for either the concours d’entrée (the competitive entrance examination) to the école normale (teachers’ training college at the time), or the brevet (post-primary school final examination) at the age of fifteen, were reading ‘literature’ in order to know their authors and literary schools, whereas their memory of literary texts was built up thanks to dictées, dictated passages they would have indeed ‘copied… out so many times’. Future teachers’ introduction to literature was...

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