Hans Nielsen Hauge: A catalyst of literacy in Norway

I’m fascinated by this article by Linda Haukland just published in the Scandinavian Journal of History.  Hans Nielsen Hauge was responsible for a movement spreading literacy (which entailed reading and writing in Danish at the time) in rural areas throughout Norway in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Despite persecution, Hauge succeeded in catalysing many activities involving literacies among working people, often without any formal education, including in isolated areas.  The homes of his followers became places where people could learn about the topics Hauge wrote about, springing from religion to embracing all sorts of everyday concerns.  Haukland shows how these new textually mediated opportunities to interact led to greater physical and social mobilities among the peasant communities.  Hauge himself travelled around from place to place, with books, texts and letters, and his followers, including women, wrote texts of their own and helped others to learn to read and write.

Anthropology of Writing book cover

Part of Haukland’s framing is the book The Anthropology of Writing edited by David Barton and Uta Papen.  You can download the first chapter of that book here.


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