”Back to the homestead. The idyll as a critical and aesthetic discourse in Swedish literature” is a genre study in the field of comparative literature. Highlighting works from different periods the study puts the idyll into a context of Swedish literary history and popular culture, drawing attention to its relevance for contemporary discourses, i.e. ecocriticism. A link between ideology and aesthetics is a defining feature of the idyll. But it is often just the nostalgic and aesthetic dimensions that are given prominence when the genre is discussed, while its utopian and critical potential is overlooked.
The basic assumption of the study is that the idyll has been, and is, used to articulate a far-reaching critique of modernity, by depicting and advocating alternative life styles and ways of organizing society. During the 20th century, the resistance often has been directed to the Swedish welfare state, i.e. ‘folkhemmet’. The alternatives have been set in the countryside.
The study is underpinned by social constructivist and hermeneutical theories. The method is based on critical discourse analysis. Five authors are put to the forefront: Karl-Erik Forsslund (1872-1941). Vilhelm Moberg (1898-1973), Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002), Bernt Staf (1945-2002) and Clara Lidström (1986-). These authors share a number of basic genre traits, but they also illustrate how the idyll as a disrespected genre has adapted itself to the development of popular media outlets – from the novel to the blog via the LP-record.