What is sakprosa?
Sakprosa is a unique Scandinavian term, and a variety of definitions exist. In English, much of what we call sakprosa is referred to as «non-fiction», in other words: «texts that have non-imaginative content». This is also a popular way to define it in Scandinavian schools, where the main focus is usually on genres such as articles, reports, interviews, letters etc. The definition is easy to use, but it does rather limit what we can actually call sakprosa, as it excludes anything poetic or fictional. An English term that has been suggested is subject oriented prose; this is much closer to the Scandinavian word. In his book Bogen om sagprosa (The Book of Subject Oriented Prose), Claus Detlef defines subject oriented prose as «a text, which the receptor – because of his expectations – perceives as direct utterances about reality. These expectations are created not least by the context in which the text is found» (our translation). According to this definition, subject oriented prose can be both a biography, a user manual and even the text on the packet of breakfast cereal. Hence, the research environment Norsk sakprosa (Norwegian subject oriented prose), divides the term sakprosa in two distinguishing categories, literary subject oriented prose (books and articles with named authors and which are usually issued by publishers) and functional subject oriented prose (texts characterized by being published by institutions, such as ministries, schools or private firms). The research environment further understands the term as culturally and historically founded, and studies texts in their contexts.
Norsk sakprosa has been attached to the Institute of Scandinavian studies and Linguistics at the University of Oslo since 1. January 2005, when Johan L. Tønnesson was appointed professor of sakprosa. This was the first ever position of its kind, in- and outside of Norway. Since autumn 2007, the University of Oslo has offered an MA-programme called Rhetoric and Communication.
Today’s research environment is a result of two Norwegian projects on sakprosa, which were finished in respectively 1998 and 2003.
In 1998 the project Norsk Sakprosa, supported by NFR – the Norwegian Research Council – came to an end. This project’s main achievement was that subject oriented prose, written within the framework of what we can call a Norwegian text culture, has emerged as a legitimate and valuable object of scientific analysis. Subject oriented prose has become a independent field of research, worthy of study on terms of its own. This has long been the case for fiction, which is often referred to simply as «literature».
The second project, Norsk Sakprosa 2, 2000-2003 was based on the former, but had a different overall aim. The project was conducted at the Institute of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics at the University of Oslo, and was lead by professor of Text Linguistics Kjell Lars Berge. This second project aimed to establish a research environment for the studying of Norwegian subject oriented prose at Norwegian universities. The focus was on texts that are generally accepted as qualifying for the category subject oriented prose.
About this blog
There exists today a well established research environment for subject oriented prose in Scandinavia. This blog is a news channel, where we inform our readers of related material in the media, current affairs that may be of interest and up and coming events. We hope to attract readers from all over Norway and Scandinavia, to create a network for research of subject oriented prose. Tips, contributions and initiatives on anything from events or publications we should cover to how to improve this blog, will be gratefully received.