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The world author in us all: conceptualising fame and agency in the global literary market

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Celebrity Studies
Issue number4
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)457-475
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date26/10/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventEmbodying Literary Celebrity in Multiple Media - Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 18/09/201419/09/2014


ConferenceEmbodying Literary Celebrity in Multiple Media
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


This article explores the link between national success as a writer and the promotional structures of world literature in the West. It does so through critically examining how individual people relate
to the various creative processes that underpin literature as it travels around the western world. The article draws in particular on Bruno Latour’s work on the concepts of ‘agency’ and ‘mediators’
in the context of actor–network theory, as well as developing the idea of a ‘network intellectual’ put forward in 2015 by Fred Turner and Christine Larson. In so doing, the article finds common
ground between literary studies and celebrity studies that can help parse the concept of ‘literary celebrity’. The model for understanding the links between authorship, celebrity and world literature that I propose is exemplified through reference to the intertwined contemporary careers of novelists Daniel Kehlmann and Jonathan Franzen. Both writers have achieved bestseller status in their respective national contexts (Germany/Austria and the United States), both deliberately seek to place their work and person into dialogue with key writers and works from other national traditions, and both have been systematically promoted across multiple countries as international success stories.
Approaching them as contemporary case studies in both world authorship and literary celebrity allows us to reconsider how individuals carry wider cultural value in an age of rapid network