What is authorship? The answer may seem all too obvious: An author is the sole creator of literary artworks. While announcements of the death of the author and proclamations of the author’s return consequentially unsettled the traditional notion of the literary author as an autonomous genius, scholarship today often reasserts the role of a single author in the creation of literary works. And yet several studies from recent years have highlighted forms of authorship that contravene this assumption: Writers who team-write their works; authors whose assistants supply ideas and materials; novelists who involve their families in their writing activities; ghostwriters who draft books in the name of others; editors and publishing staff who rewrite and finalize the manuscripts of authors they advise; and writers who turn to digital and machine technologies for the fabrication of their works.
Indeed, authors would hardly exist at all, if not for the publishing companies, the circles of friends, professional networks, and familial relations. As these cases illustrate, collaborative and supportive networks—human as well as non-human—play a pivotal role in the creative process. In this seminar, we wish to throw light on these invisible co-authors, whose contributions largely go unacknowledged. Our goal shall be to develop a historically sensitive understanding of the way such figures impact literary creativity and transmission. How does the analysis of these multiple ‘inputs’ in the making of a literary text alter our understanding of creativity? What does it mean to shift from a focus on individual ingenuity to collective enterprise as foundational for the making of a literary object? Is it possible to specify different historical attitudes toward novelty and originality?
The summer seminar focuses on the author as a figure entangled in a web that includes numerous other agents, institutions, and practices. The seminar will include three guest lectures: the literary scholar Julika Griem, the poet and intellectual historian Hannes Bajohr and the novelist and sociologist Juan S. Guse, as well as the literary author and professor of creative writing Annette Pehnt with a collective will address recent trends and challenges in the field of literature. Graduate Students from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the USA interested in this set of questions are welcome to apply for the LMU-Princeton summer seminar taking place from June 5 to June 7, 2023, in Munich. Room and board will be provided during the period of the event, whereas the travel expenses are the participants’ responsibility. Discussions will take place in English and in German.