Di / 12:00 – 16:00

Workshop: Controversial Literary Prizes

Gisèle Sapiro, Oliver Berli, Juan Guse, Alexandra Pontzen

Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

Literary prizes and awards have long sparked both scholarly interest and public controversies. While sociologists have closely examined the symbolic and economic influence of prizes in the field of literary production, their inner workings, social responsibility, and various effects have increasingly captured public interest as well. Debates may focus on literary quality or the legitimacy of certain cultural institutions and modes of evaluation. More often, however, mediated scandals and controversies challenge the adequacy of involved individuals and their perceived political worldviews, intertwining various aesthetic, political, and ethical arguments on a public stage.

Such epistemological and justificatory complexities within these controversies around literary prizes reflect not only contested value regimes within expert discourse but also various (and sometimes contradictory) expectations regarding the general social functions of literature and art.

This workshop draws on sociological and interdisciplinary scholarship to explore how controversial literary prizes provide a productive field for understanding the symbolic, economic, and political roles of literature and public performance evaluations in contemporary society. Participants will benefit from recent conceptual advances and new empirical data as international experts present case studies and discuss methodological approaches for better understanding literature’s and literary institutions’ role in society.

With contributions by: Gisèle Sapiro (Paris), Oliver Berli (Ludwigsburg), Juan Guse (Hannover), Alexandra Pontzen (Duisburg-Essen)