Date: 2 November 2011 Time: 5.00 pm
Venue: Bowland North Seminar Room 10
Rebecca Braun (Dept. of European Languages & Cultures)
'Prize Germans? German authorship and literary prizes in the 21st century'
In recent years journalists and academic critics alike have suggested that the German-language literary sphere is marked out from its Anglo-American counterparts by a culture of generous public subsidy and seemingly endless literary prizes, and that this in turn has affected both authors' self-perception and the role they play for others within society. Focusing on a selection of national and international literary prize awards, I consider a series of intellectually fetishizing narratives that emerged around German-speaking authors at home and abroad over the course of the twentieth century, and then contrast these with the recent industry-led developments within German prize culture that have accompanied unified Germany's repositioning within a more aggressively capitalist, globalized environment. I present the unexpected international success of the young writer Daniel Kehlmann as a case study that illustrates a fundamental shift in how serious literary fiction is officially valued in Germany, and I ask whether Germany's current writers have managed to break with or otherwise adapt what many commentators consider to be a specifically 'German' understanding of their public and literary value. My paper thus explores how German institutional practices have responded to Anglo-American celebrity culture and asks what space is left for authors productively to engage with or otherwise challenge dominant ideas about their role in society.
Who can attend: Anyone
Associated staff: Rebecca Braun
Organising departments and research centres: European Languages and Cultures