Women and criticism. An empirical analysis of gender in contemporary Swedish literary criticism (2018–2022)

Kvinnor och kritik. En empirisk analys av genus i den samtida svenska litteraturkritiken (2018–2022)
Begin - Einde 
2022 - 2028 (lopend)
Vakgroep Letterkunde



Literary criticism plays an important role in the way literary works are perceived and what value is ascribed to them: it has a gatekeeping function, attributing cultural legitimacy through its attention and its discourses (Kristensen 2019; Samuelsson 2013). Women have traditionally held a marginal position in the literary field: not only were there fewer women authors; the number of women critics was even lower (Svedjedal 1994). Accordingly, the representation of women’s works in discourse about literature was marked by a gender bias, regarded as a distinct and inferior type of literature. However, there has been a significant shift in recent decades: an increasing number of women are participating in various positions within the literary field (Fürst 2019; Samuelsson 2013; Kulturanalys Norden 2017). Nonetheless, existing research shows that the amount of attention paid to women in international cultural journalism has not increased proportionally (Berkers et al. 2016; Kim & Chong 2022).

The aim of the project is to analyze the field of literary criticism in Sweden today from a gender perspective. The project will draw upon a corpus of contemporary book reviews from Swedish newspapers and literary magazines, analyzed by a combination of distant reading techniques and qualitative analysis. By mapping out the external factors of the field, as well as a systematic study of literary criticism as a practice, the project attempts to examine the functioning of the field of literary criticism, and to shed a light on potential gender differences.



  • Berkers, Pauwke, Marc Verboord & Frank Weij (2016). “‘These Critics (Still) Don’t Write Enough about Women Artists’: Gender Inequality in the Newspaper Coverage of Arts and Culture in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, 1955-2005.” Gender & Society 30 (3): 515–39.
  • Fürst, Henrik (2019). Debutant! vägar till skönlitterär debut och ett särskilt uppmärksammat mottagande. Uppsala: Avdelningen för litteratursociologi, Uppsala universitet.
  • Kim, Kwan Woo & Phillipa K. Chong (2022). “Writing by Women or for Women? Either Way, You’re Less Likely to Be Reviewed”. Poetics: 101737.
  • Kristensen, Nete Nørgaard (2019). “Cultural Journalism—Journalism about Culture.” Sociology Compass 13 (6): e12701.
  • Kulturanalys Norden (2017). Jämställd kultur: Kvinnor och män på statligt finansierade kulturinstitioner i Norden. Stockholm: Kulturanalys Norden.
  • Samuelsson, Lina (2013). Kritikens ordning: svenska bokrecensioner 1906, 1956, 2006. Karlstad: Bild, text & form.
  • Svedjedal, Johan (1994). “Kvinnorna i den svenska bokbranschen.” Författare och förläggare och andra litteratursociologiska studier. Hedemora: Gidlunds förlag. 




Externe medewerkers

Anna Williams

Department of Literature - Uppsala University

Karl Berglund

Department of Literature - Uppsala University