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Lydia WistisenSenior lecturer

About me

PhD. in literature 2017, Stockholm University. 


At the department, I mostly teach children’s and young adult literature but also feminist and modern literary history. 


My research concerns young adult literature and the relationship between text, space and identity.

In my doctoral thesis Gångtunneln: Urbana erfarenheter i svensk ungdomslitteratur 1890–2010 (2017) I show that the urban experience is a fundamental part of the development of the Swedish young adult novel by analysing city representations in Swedish young adult literature from 1890 to 2010. By suggestion that there is a strong bond between the notion of the urban and that of adolescence this study examines continuity and change in representations of coming-of-age, focusing especially on intersections between age, gender, class, ethnicity and sexuality.

In 2018 I am starting a postdoctoral project concerning youth culture in post war literature. I am also interested in literary representations of the large scale post-war modernist housing areas in Europe.

I review children’s and young adult literature for Dagens Nyheter and are a part of the editorial board of Barnelitterært Forskningstidsskrift

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Skit i traditionerna

    2020. Lydia Wistisen. Barnelitterært forskningstidsskrift 11 (1), 1-11


    Under efterkrigstiden sker en genomgående förändring av ungdomstiden och idag framstår 1950-talet som en brytpunkt, där såväl ungdomsskildringen, ungdomsboken som synen på ungdomen och normerna för vuxenblivandet transformeras. Föreliggande artikel diskuterar framställningen av den nya ungdomen i danska Leif Panduros banbrytande roman Rend mig i traditionerne (1958) och dess relation till utvecklingen av en modern ungdomsroman utifrån frågor om framtid, åldrande och normer. Artikeln utgår från idéer från queer- och cripteori, vilka diskuterar tid i relation till sexuella- och hälsorelaterade avvikelser. Ett centralt argument är att misslyckandet kan förstås som subversivt eftersom det möjliggör en flykt undan de disciplinerande normer som styr vuxenblivandet. Artikeln kommer fram till att Panduros roman utmanar efterkrigstidens krononormativa livslinje genom revolt, misslyckande och sjukdom. Rend mig i traditionerne presenterar således en vision om en alternativ framtid, vilken kan sägas förnya ungdomsskildringen.

    Read more about Skit i traditionerna
  • Too Much Feeling

    2020. Lydia Wistisen. Children's Literature in Education


    This article argues that emotions are utilized for norm breaking, identity formation, and socialization in S.E. Hinton's YA novel The Outsiders (1967). Drawing on the history of emotions studies, it investigates how emotional expressions are utilized to negotiate and contest given emotional norms on the one hand, and Young Adult literary conventions on the other. The point of departure is intersectional and focuses on the relationship between emotion, power, and socialization. In particular, the article considers how intersections of age, gender, and class relate to depictions of feeling and establishing of new emotional norms. The article shows that the feelings that the main character Pony expresses are part of a reiterative process of negotiation of power; they work as instruments for changing emotional norms connected to his age, class, and gender.

    Read more about Too Much Feeling
  • Har du inga gummistövlar? Fattigdom i 2010-talets svenska bilderbok

    2019. Lydia Wistisen. Barnboken 42, 1-23


    This article explores nine Swedish children’s picture books that portray children and other people living in poverty. The aim is to scrutinize the discursive and aesthetical practices that construct the literary image of poverty, poor people, and their relationship to society and each other. The article shows that the Swedish picture book participates in recent debates on child poverty and begging EU citizens. The representations of social inequality include both depictions of poor children and of children meeting socially excluded people, such as beggars. The depictions are located in between discourses on poverty, children, and children’s rights. Inequality is, on the one hand, represented by a lack of material resources, such as new rubber boots or expensive fruit, and on the other, by adults begging in the street. The aesthetics of the picture book format is utilized in a productive way, encouraging readers to reflect on questions of poverty, power, and solidarity.

    Read more about Har du inga gummistövlar? Fattigdom i 2010-talets svenska bilderbok
  • Leken i antropocen

    2018. Lydia Wistisen. Barnboken 41, 1-19


    The article examines the ecological and aesthetic dimensions of trash in Barbro Lindgren’s children’s books Loranga, Masarin och Dartanjang (1969) and Loranga, Loranga (1970). It investigates how Lindgren develops a waste aesthetics by inscribing the child, the play, and the children’s book in a contemporary environmental critique of waste disposal. I argue that her aesthetics differs from the established image of political children’s literature around 1968.

    The article contributes to the growing field of waste studies, a research area intertwined with material ecocriticism and modernity studies. Stories that connect waste with play and fantasy have the ability to work as counter-narratives and bridge the gulf between human culture and non-human nature. In a traditional environmental discourse nature is configured as a passive victim of exploitation and contamination. These kinds of narratives are performative in their disenchantment of the human-nature relationship, and perpetuate alienation and disinterest. Lindgren’s waste aesthetics, on the other hand, encourages a productive relationship to trash and Loranga, Masarin och Dartanjang and Loranga, Loranga are examples of counter-narratives.

    Read more about Leken i antropocen
  • Gångtunneln

    2017. Lydia Wistisen (et al.).

    Thesis (Doc)

    This thesis shows that the urban experience is a fundamental part of the development of the Swedish young adult novel by analysing city representations in Swedish young adult literature from 1890 to 2010. By suggestion that there is a strong bond between the notion of the urban and that of adolescence this study examines continuity and change in representations of coming-of-age, focusing especially on intersections between age, gender, class, ethnicity and sexuality.

    During the 20th century Stockholm has become the most common setting in Swedish literature for young adults. Young adult literature has been involved in a constant dialogue both with society’s view on adolescents, and with the city of Stockholm. A central line of argument is that the subject position of the protagonist determines the depiction of the relationship between youth and urban space. Depictions of identity development, emancipation and maturity processes are located to passages between family home and adult life, to peripheral spaces beyond the control of the adult world, as well as to public places of display.

    The methodology is inspired by spatial studies and is founded on the idea that the city of Stockholm is a product of a constant process of human practices, perceptions and conceptions. Movement trough space generate meaning of what the city is on a real, as well as on a textual, level. Young adult literature can change the way adolescents view the world around them, making possible new ways of understanding what is actually there and catalysing new ideas about what might be.

    The material consists of up to 30 works set in Stockholm from 1890 to 2010. The selection contains both girls’ and boys’ books, as well as books for young adults. The positioning of teenage characters and of stories of emancipation, growth, and clashes between generations has gone through several changes during the studied period. The analysis therefore point out six greater themes, which focus on different urban time-bound experiences, motifs, and places: early 20th century literary urban aesthetics, 1950’s consumer and car culture, 1960’s and 1970’s suburban youth, homelessness motifs and, finally, new motifs from the turn of the millennium.

    Read more about Gångtunneln
  • Urbana rum

    2013. Lydia Wistisen. Barnboken 36


    Urban space: An examination of the coming of age of Majken in Martha Sandwall-Bergström’s novel trilogy about the Oskarsson family

    In this article I examine the ways in which Martha Sandwall-Bergström uses urban places and milieus to depict the coming of age of the protagonist Majken in Aldrig en lugn stund hos Oskarssons (1952), Allt händer hos Oskarssons (1953) and Majken Stolt, född Oskarsson (1954). With support from Henri Lefebvres concept of social space, I argue that Sandwall-Bergström employs the social spaces of the city to depict Majken’s development.

    In her search for a new identity Majken moves trough a variety of social spaces, typical for a big city of the 1950’s. My point is that the actual searching takes place in the public spaces of the inner city, on streets, in shopping malls and nightspots. This can be read as a period of development and freedom before Majken has to adjust herself to a more conventional way of life. The trilogy describes a circular movement from one home to another but at the same time also a social journey. Repeatedly Sandwall-Bergström contrasts the overcrowded and dirty working class apartment of Majken’s childhood with the bright and clean spaces of urban modernity.

    Read more about Urbana rum

Show all publications by Lydia Wistisen at Stockholm University