Elisabeth Herrmann

Elisabeth Herrmann

Professor, German Literature

Stockholm University

Elisabeth Herrmann is Professor of German with a specialization in 18th-21st century literature and cultural studies at Stockholm University.

Her research focusses on the age of Goethe and Weimar Classicism, post-war and contemporary literature after 1989, collective identities and cultural memory, representations of the Holocaust in literature, film and art, cultural theories, regional literature, transnationalism, and world literatures. She is co-editor of the journal TranscUlturAl. A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies. In 2015 she co-edited the volume Transnationalism in Contemporary German-Language Literature, together with Carrie Smith-Prei and Stuart Taberner.

Dialogue, Movement, and World Entanglement: Towards a Redefinition of World Literature

This book project responds to the demand for a critical review of the idea of world literature in our time of globalization. The study goes beyond a synopsis of different concepts that have been developing since Goethe’s time, with the aim of inciting a dialogue between the fields of comparative, literary, cultural, and social studies in order to achieve a new definition of the term world literature from a transdisciplinary and transnational perspective. Applying theories of communicative and cultural mobility and community-building that derive from anthropology, literary, social and cultural studies, such as “travelling cultures” (Clifford 1992),  “ver-rückte Kulturen” (Celestini, Mitterbauer 2003), crossing histories” (Werner, Zimmermann 2006), “literature on the move” (Ette 2003) and a “sociology of world relationship” (Rosa 2016), this project in literary theory determines historically traceable characteristics as well as newly emerging indicators of world literature by extending the concept in the direction of a “literature of dialogue, movement and world entanglement”. The aim of the study is to re-define world literature by developing a theoretical concept that incorporates literature’s specific role in the formation of social and cultural values and in interpreting cultural self-representations.

World literature cannot be investigated as an entity in itself. The concept becomes meaningful within examinations of its parts as excerpts of the world. Drawing on a selection of literary texts written in German that have been received and adopted internationally across centuries, while also focusing on new developments in German and multilingual literature emerging after the turn of the millennium, this monograph examines the dynamics of literature traveling the world and identifies new literary communities that are created beyond existing concepts of national, cultural, and geographical location.

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