Konferenzen, Tagungen

Literature in the Nobel Era: Comparative, theoretical, and archival approaches to the Nobel Prize in Literature


International Symposium

Online via Zoom, August 25–27, 2021.

Convenors: Carlos Spoerhase, Jørgen Sneis, Jacob Habinek, Mats Malm, Sandra Richter.

A cooperation of Bielefeld University, Linköping University, the Swedish Academy, and the German Literature Archive.

Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Swedish Academy.


In 1895, Alfred Nobel famously signed his last will and testament, establishing that most of his fortune should be used to fund a series of prizes, including the Nobel Prize in Literature. Since 1901 the Literature Prize has been awarded to a total of 117 individuals writing in 25 languages.

“The Nobel Prizes for science and literature are all-powerful”, Ludwig Marcuse once observed. He goes on to elaborate: The person who gets one “is no longer a physicist or a novelist” but a “Nobel Prize Winner”. Marcuse certainly has a point. Given the massive amount of attention that the Nobel Prize and Nobel laureates receive in the press all over the world each year, the cultural reach of this award seems to be beyond dispute. Yet the actual workings and various functions of the Nobel Prize remain little known and poorly understood. In what sense and in whose case can a literary award be seen as “all-powerful”? In what ways has the Nobel Prize enabled, informed, or changed the reception of certain authors and their works or even the ways in which we think about or engage with literature altogether? To what extent does the worldwide public awareness of the Nobel Prize coincide with its actual impact on the global literary field in the 20th and 21st centuries, with its ability to shape global discourses and influence the behaviour of authors, publishers, printers, booksellers, agents, translators, journalists, the media, academia, archives, and the reading public?

The study of the Nobel Prize raises a number of methodological questions. How does one approach a subject of such complexity? How does one account for its international scope? The impact of the Nobel Prize seems ultimately to hinge on the significance of certain authors and their works. To what degree does the Nobel Prize mark a turning point in the careers of its laureates or even just such authors who have been publicly associated with it? And vice versa, how does this group of Nobel authors retroactively shape the image of the award? The question of authorship in the Nobel era seems to be a natural starting point in determining the impact of the award. Yet at the same time, it seems fair to assume that “Nobel Prize effects” may take various forms and also involve the very conditions under which literature is written, published, translated, traded with, and read. For this reason, we have opted for an interdisciplinary, comparative, and theoretically founded approach to the Nobel Prize in Literature. Taking the collections of the German Literature Archive and the Swedish Academy as a starting point, we also wish to explore how an archival perspective can enrich the historical, critical, and theoretical inquiry into this award.

Our international symposium will bring together scholars in the fields of comparative literature and cultural studies, translation studies, sociology, book history and economic history, as well as other areas relevant to the study of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The main goal is to combine critical and archival research with theoretical and methodological reflection, to inaugurate a global network of Nobel Prize scholarship, and to spark innovative collaboration across disciplines.



Wednesday, 25 August 2021

14.30   Mats Malm, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy / Sandra Richter, Director of the German Literature Archive: Welcome

14.45   Carlos Spoerhase, Jørgen Sneis, Bielefeld: Introduction: Literature in the Nobel Era

15.15   Break

15.30   Gisèle Sapiro, Paris (keynote lecture): The symbolic economy of the Nobel Prize and its role in the making of World Literature

Moderation: Carlos Spoerhase, Bielefeld

16.30   Break

16.45   Fabien Accominotti, Madison, Wisconsin: Consecration as a Population-level Phenomenon

Phillipa K. Chong, Hamilton, Ontario / Vaughn Schmutz, Charlotte, USA: (Nobel) Winner takes all? The Nobel Effect on Literary Reputation and Reviews

Jacob Habinek, Linköping: Disembedded Autonomy: The Social Structure of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Moderation: Jørgen Sneis, Bielefeld

17.45   Break

18.00   Public Evening Program (in German) with Nobel laureate Herta Müller

Thursday, 26 August 2021

10.00   Alexander Bareis, Lund: Most ideal – the Aesthetic Standards of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Methodological and Theoretical Perspectives

Rebecca Braun, Galway: Celebrating Literature? What Modes of Authorship Do to Literary Prizes

Tim Sommer, Heidelberg: Archival Economies: Valuing the Papers of Twenty-First-Century Nobel Laureates

Moderation: Günter Leypoldt, Heidelberg

11.00   Break

11.15   Nils Hansson, Düsseldorf: The Enactment of Physician-Authors in Nobel Nominations

Stevie Marsden, Derby: If they gave the Oscar to Books: Understanding Literary Prize Hierarchies

John Raimo, New York: Anti-Nobels: The Prix International des éditeurs and the Prix Formentor, 1960–1968

Moderation: Jacob Habinek, Linköping

12.15   Break

14.00   Clara Lévy, Paris: Patrick Modiano and the Nobel Prize in Literature

Jiřina Šmejkalová, Prag: Nobel Prize as a Cold War Product (?): The Case of Jaroslav Seifert

Stefanie Leuenberger, Bern: Awarding the Nobel Prize in 1919: The Case of Carl Spitteler

Moderation: Madeleine Brook, Marbach

15.00   Break

15.15   Alexander Nebrig, Urs Büttner, Düsseldorf: Nobel Prizes for Literature and the International Book Market

Nadine Rahner, Freiburg: Analogies and Differences: Analysis of the Publishing Peritext in German Editions of Selected Works by Pasternak, Sholokov, and Solzhenitsyn

Jana Rüegg, Uppsala: Prestigious Publishing: The Swedish Publishing of Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature 1970–2016

Moderation: Jørgen Sneis, Bielefeld

16.15   Break

18.00   James English, Philadelphia (keynote lecture): The Nobel and the Economics of Literary Prestige in the 21st Century

Moderation: Günter Leypoldt, Heidelberg

Friday, 27 August 2021

10.00   Michael Ka-Chi Cheuk, Hong Kong: The Nobel Prize as Censorship

Takashi Inoue, Tokyo: Japan and the Nobel Prize in Literature

Afrida Aainun Murshida, Gangtok, Sikkim: Metaphor of Nationalism in Indian Nobel Laureates’ works: Comparing Tagore and Naipaul

Moderation: Carlos Spoerhase, Bielefeld

11.00   Break

11.15   Pablo Faúndez Morán, Valparaiso: Transformations surrounding the Nobel Prize: The case of Gabriela Mistral

Coletta Kandemiri, Windhoek: Of “greatest benefit on humankind”: The Pragmatic Autopsy of African Nobel Prize Winners in Literature

Hülya Yildiz, Ankara: The Road To Nobel: A Comparative Study of Two Nobel Contenders

Moderation: Madeleine Brook, Marbach

12.15   Break

14.00   Kerstin Bohne, Oldenburg: The Relevance of Translations in the Awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Sandra Richter, Astghik Antonyan, Dîlan Çakir, Giovanna Carlesso, Jie Han, Maria Kraxenberger, Katharina Reeb, Achim Schmid, Merisa Taranis, Xiaocui Qiu, Stuttgart: Is there a Nobel Effect? Translations after the Nobel Prize

Kathrin Yacavone, Köln: Photographic Author Portraits: A Visual Pantheon of Literary Nobel Prize Laureates

15.00   Break

15.15   Pieter Vermeulen, Leuven (closing lecture): The Indie Nobel? Stockholm, New York, and the Geography of Value

Moderation: Mats Malm, Gothenburg

16.15   Carlos Spoerhase, Jørgen Sneis, Bielefeld: Outlook: Nobel Prize Scholarship

18.00   Public evening program with Michael Krüger, Anders Olsson and Jan Bürger

Moderation: Jan Bürger, Marbach

Quelle der Beschreibung: Information des Anbieters


World Literature/Weltliteratur, Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts, Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts, Literatur des 21. Jahrhunderts




Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft
Germanistische Literaturwissenschaft


Universitätsstr. 25
33615 Bielefeld
Beitrag von: Andrea Schrottenloher
Datum der Veröffentlichung: 26.07.2021
Letzte Änderung: 26.07.2021