Historical Fiction in EFL Education
Abstract: The aim of this essay is to analyze the contemporary historical fictional novel The Book Thief (2005) by Markus Zusak through the perspective of New Historicism. The investigation seeks to investigate if this particular novel can be used in English education in a Swedish upper secondary school to promote learning and discussion of human rights, values and democracy. This essay also researches if there are any benefits or disadvantages using historical fiction to collaborate interdisciplinary with the subject history. To conduct this investigation, a close reading of the novel The Book Thief was performed and analyzed through the perspective of New Historicism as well as a close reading of the syllabus for English and History for upper secondary school in Sweden as well as a close reading of the curriculum for upper secondary school in Sweden. This study has shown that the themes brought up in The Book Thief can be used in the teaching of English in Swedish upper secondary school to discuss and work with human rights and fundamental values and that literature can be a gateway to integrate these subjects in to everyday teaching. Historical fiction, and in particular the novel The Book Thief, has through this study proven a good complement for battling xenophobia and develop a greater understanding of not only different cultures and people but an understanding of history. This study also concludes that historical fictional novels can be a tool to develop a greater historical understanding and historical empathy.
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