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Subject Description: Literary Composition

School trip to Cairo Photo: Khashayar Naderehvandi, 2012.

Literary writing may be regarded as the complex act of representing and expressing specific and individual experiences through language in order to render these experiences shareable. Literary Composition, as an academic subject, could be regarded as an attempt to transform this aspect of literature into artistic as well as pedagogical practice.

Individual texts written by individual persons are brought together into a common space where they are subjected to readings, critique, and text-talks. This space has been formed within the framework of a Nordic standard of education for all, where a dialogue based on democracy has constituted an important element.

Literary Composition has been offered as a course/programme at the University of Gothenburg since 1996. Artistic practices, that is, writing practices and reading practices,  together with a multi-voiced, critical, reflexive discussion on and around these,  form the foundation on which this subject is based. Today we can offer the Master of Fine Arts Programme in Literary Composition (120 Higher Education Credits), the Master of Fine Arts Programme in Translation (60 Higher Education Credits) as well as a variety of freestanding courses. Artistic research is also conducted within the subject as an integral part of activities at Valand Academy and the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts.


Students on the Master of Fine Arts Programme in Literary Composition, who write in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, work on their own literary authorship. The students’ writing and the issues that emerge here form an important point of departure for the reflection on literature and theory that takes place in the form of joint seminars and guest lectures. Central to the programme are the text-talks, i.e. long, in-depth group discussions on the students’ on-going literary works – where one’s own poetics and the consequences these may have for reading as well as for writing meet the literary standpoints and processes of others taking part. The fact that three languages are represented within this programme means that perspectives are widened and the texts of those taking part are reflected and mirrored through a number of different trends and tendencies in contemporary Scandinavian literatures.


The Master of Fine Arts Programme in Literary Translation (60 Higher Education Credits) is an artistic university programme in literary translation. The students’ own on-going translation work is focused upon here and discussed on a continuous basis in small ’source language’ groups. As a part of the programme, students also meet prominent representatives from the profession, from publishing companies and from academia. Study material is defined on a continuous basis during the course of the programme both in conjunction with concrete translation projects as well as in connection with the problems that are addressed and discussed during the course – and that students and teachers consider of central importance.


Common to all programmes and activities in this subject is the belief that in-depth text-talks – which originate and emerge out of an on-going artistic practice, where this practice is placed in relation to the practice of others – are of importance both for the individual practitioner as well as for the literary field as a whole.  This, in turn, also comes to be of importance for the role, function and ability of literature to act and work in the world.


As an academic subject, Literary Composition is actively engaged in collaborating both within the University of Gothenburg – with other departments – as well as with collaborators outside of the University, which include: Göteborgs Litteraturhus – a non-profit organisation in Gothenburg to promote education for all, the Gothenburg Poetry Festival, the Angered Folk High School (a college for young people’s and adult education), the Gothenburg Book Fair, the Translation Room at the Gothenburg Book Fair, the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish Writers’ Union, the Translator Centre, Stockholm, Ramus Publishing House, Malmö, and the Centre for Narrative Research at the University of East London.


A number of doctoral students at Valand Academy pursue research linked to Literary Composition, and three doctoral students have been awarded doctorates in the subject.

Our research specialisation is embraced under the Academy’s research themes, which are: intersectional practices, political imaginaries and structures, experimental materialisms and the environmental.


Contact Information

Sofia Gräsberg, Head of Literary Composition

+46(0)31-786 51 30 (Monday and Thursday)

Page Manager: Anna Blad|Last update: 9/11/2017

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