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Diffuse Consecration: How Modes of Authorship Shape Literary Prizes

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number101825
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2023
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date31/08/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article takes a fresh look at the Bourdieusian notion of consecration by applying a mixed methods approach to the way authorship unfolds around the Nobel Prize. Drawing on both conceptual literary history and corpus-assisted discourse analysis, the case study of Herta Müller’s ‘unexpected’ win in 2009 is taken as a starting point for establishing how different ‘modes of authorship’ play out in different contexts and at different scales. Conceptually speaking, ‘modes of authorship’ develop further Jérôme Meizoz’s work on ‘literary posture’, expressing how multiple actors, human and non- human alike, convey attitude within the networks that cohere around literature. Media coverage of Müller’s win at different points in time and place, together with paratextual material that pre- and post-dates the Nobel award, is mined to extract a set of data that evidences certain expectations around the modes of authorship that are likely to map on to Nobel winners. This article thereby develops its own empirical evidence to argue that the scandals that periodically ensue when an ‘unlikely’ author wins point to a much more diffuse notion of consecration than traditional field theory allows. This is best captured through a network-inspired ontology of authorship than through the inferential approaches more standardly offered by literary theory.