This article examines how cultural classification processes develop over time. Specifically, we analyse author selection in literary textbooks for Dutch secondary education, and how this selection has changed since the 1960s. The content analysis of 34 literary textbooks addresses both structural properties of classifications (levels of consensus, hierarchical order and innovation) and background characteristics of selected authors. Results show textbooks increasingly focus on a more limited group of authors, raising the overall levels of consensus and hierarchy. At the same time, textbooks have become more heterogeneous and innovative, inasmuch as they increasingly include female, ethnic minority and semi-literary authors as well as authors who recently made their debut. These results suggest, first, that literary experts continue to influence curriculum content and, second, that the erosion of boundaries between 'high art' and 'low art' may not be as clear-cut as has recently been suggested.

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ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Cultural Sociology
Department of Media and Communication

Verboord, M., & van Rees, K. (2008). Cultural classifications in literary education: Trends in Dutch literary textbooks, 1968-2000. Cultural Sociology, 2(3), 321–343. doi:10.1177/1749975508095615