Citing the World: A Geometric Data Analysis of Swedish Literary Scholars’ Use of Foreign Critical Resources


The academic study of literature constitutes one institutional site for the production and reproduction of conceptions of literature. In a semi-peripheral country such as Sweden, this production partly relies on foreign intellectual goods. To analyze this transnational dimension of Swedish scholarship in a period marked by increasing internationalization, a Geometric Data Analysis (GDA) (Le Roux & Rouanet, 2004) was carried out on the bibliographies of 318 PhD dissertations, defended in the period 1980–2005, at Swedish departments of literary studies (litteraturvetenskap). The analysis of citational choices showed only an insignificant increase in the reliance on foreign sources in this period. The GDA revealed how these privileged references were distributed in a tripolar opposition, reflecting fundamentally different conceptions of literature, interpreted in this study as the three poles of textual singularity, secular particularity and anthropological universality. The analysis of supplementary variables shows that these oppositions are subtended by different geolinguistic orientations and that they correlate strongly with gender, which is overwhelmingly in evidence as one moves from the male-dominated textual pole to the strongly feminist and female social pole of the first axis. The lack of increasing internationalization measured by citations is attributed to the “national cultural mission” of these departments.

author Bo G. Ekelund

Poetics 55 (April 2016): 60-75.

DOI 10.1016/j.poetic.2015.11.003
published 2016