Date: 28 June 2011
Rebecca Braun, recently appointed Lecturer in German Studies in DELC (September 2010), was invited to present her latest research to the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Paul Wellings, and other members of Senior Management on 28 June 2011. In her 20 minute presentation, Rebecca outlined how her work on authors in contemporary Germany helps her frame bigger questions about what culture means for a society.
In the past, theories of authorship have been linked primarily to close textual analysis - figuring out how a text works on a micro level, how meaning is created and communicated within the closed triangle of author-reader-text relations. Rebecca's research into the way German-language authors have been represented in popular public discourse (including TV documentaries and Internet sites) from the 1960s to the present, and how they have engaged with these various representations in their writing merges traditional close-textual analysis with a much broader sociological understanding of authorship. Authors act as a key interface between culture and its social and political context. The precise way in which they are constructed, branded and reflected on as cultural products in their own right, and how these constructions have changed over time, tells us a great dealabout a specific society. At the same time, authors have much to say about the processes of construction and branding to which they are subjected. One of Rebecca's key points is that the way in which key figures have refined their aesthetic technique to engage with and reflect upon these dominant media processes has significantly shaped the evolution of German literature and literary culture over the past fifty years.
Rebecca's research is by no means limited to the German context, however. Over the last year, inspired by the outward-looking nature of DELC, Rebecca has worked on the concept of literary celebrity within the global context, analysing the Nobel Prize and different attitudes to intellectual achievement in Europe, Britain and North America. She has also strayed into Linguistics, Sociology, Literary Theory, and Media Studies in her work on 'the impact process', a term coined to help conceptualise how cultural products are received in the world, and how processes of reception in turn condition what is produced. During her presentation to the Vice Chancellor she was operating in equally interdisciplinary environs: other invited presenters were Luke Harding from Linguistics, Mark Butler from Law, and Sarah Casey from LICA.
Associated staff: Rebecca Braun
Associated departments and research centres: Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research, European Languages and Cultures
Keywords: Comparative literature, Contemporary literature, Culture and media, German language, culture and society, Literature, Literature and politics, Literature and power, Media, Postmodern literature, Twentieth-century culture, Twentieth-century literature, Twentieth-century popular culture