At the SHARP 2021 conference I took part in the second of two thematically intertwined panel discussions about “@readers #currentlyreading in digital environments”. The first panel discussion discussed “Influencers, Celebrities, Young Adult Readers”, with Danielle Füller, DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Federico Pianzola, Angelina Eimannsberger and Kate Stuart, and was moderated by Bronwen Thomas. The second panel focused on “Prizes, Authority, Self-Publishing” and was moderated by DeNel Rehberg Sedo. The other panelists were Laura Bousquet and Claire Parnell.
You can read my abstract and watch the pre-recorded presentation below.
Literary Prizes in times of #Twitterature and #Bookstagram: A Digital and Literary Sociological Analysis of the Layperson Evaluative “Talk of Literature” Regarding Literary Prizes on Social Media
The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1993) argued that a text’s literary status as symbolic capital depends on the recognition by authorised institutions or individuals. Research on the field of literary criticism has often focused on this institutionalised consecration of literary texts, concerning traditional gatekeepers, such as prizes (English 2009, Sapiro 2016), or on professional critics’ threatened position of authority (Löffler 2017, Schneider 2018; Kempke/Vöcklinghaus/Zeh 2019, Chong 2020). Nevertheless, comparatively little research (Kellermann/Mehling/Rehfeldt 2016; Kellermann/Mehling 2017; Bogaert 2017) has actually attempted to directly ingest and mine the content of user-generated literary criticism shared on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter. Consequently, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of Twitterers and Instagrammers as new literary gatekeepers and cultural transmitters.
In this presentation, I aim to analyse lay critics’ evaluative “talk of literature” on Twitter and Instagram, two social media platforms with a distinct focus and “book communities”. For this, I will examine the tweets and Instagram-posts surrounding three prominent literary prizes from different language communities, namely the Dutch-language Fintro Literatuurprijs, the German-language Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis and the English-language Booker Prize, each supporting a different level of transparency and audience participation. I intend to map the various evaluative criteria used by lay critics and to provide an answer to the question on which aspects of the prize itself and/or of the nominated and/or awarded titles – e.g. the jury discussion, a book’s plot or language use… – the lay “audience” concentrates and how these aspects are subsequently evaluated by them. By examining the online discussions and performing an aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) this data will enable me to trace shifts in the prizes’ coverage on these social media platforms. I posit that the layperson critic’s criteria and evaluation of the prizes and nominated or awarded titles is influenced by each prize’s level of audience participation and transparency and the social medium itself.
Bogaert, Xiana. ‘ICH WÜRDE AM LIEBSTEN MIT DER JURY DISKUTIEREN! #TDDL‘. Der Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis: ein Vergleich zwischen der Jury- und Laienkritik auf Twitter. University of Ghent, unpublished thesis, 2017.
Bourdieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Polity Press/Blackwell Publishers, 1993.
Chong, Phillipa K. Inside the Critics’ Circle. Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times. Princeton University Press, 2020.
English, James F. The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value. Harvard University Press, 2009.
Kellermann, Holger, and Gabriele Mehling. „Laienrezensionen auf amazon.de im Spannungsfeld zwischen Alltagskommunikation und professioneller Literaturkritik”. Die Rezension. Aktuelle Tendenzen der Literaturkritik, edited by Andrea Bartl and Markus Behmer, Königshausen & Neumann, 2017, pp. 173–202.
Kellermann, Holger, Gabriele Mehling and Martin Rehfeldt. „Wie bewerten Laienrezensenten? Ausgewählte Ergebnisse einer inhaltsanalytischen Studie”. Was wir lesen sollen: Kanon und literarische Wertung am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts, edited by Stefan Neuhaus and Uta Schaffers, Königshausen & Neumann, 2016, pp. 229–238.
Kempke, Kevin, Lena Vöcklinghaus and Miriam Zeh. Institutsprosa: Literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf akademischen Schreibschulen. Spector Books, 2019.
Sapiro, Gisèle. “The Metamorphosis of Modes of Consecration in the Literary Field: Academies, Literary Prizes, Festivals.” Poetics, vol. 59, Dec. 2016, pp. 5–19.
Schneider, Ute. „Bücher zeigen und Leseatmosphären inszenieren – vom Habitus enthusiastischer Leserinnen und Leser.” Gelesene Literatur: Populäre Lektüre im Zeichen des Medienwandels, edited by Steffen Martus and Carlos Spoerhase, edition text + kritik 2018, pp. 113-123.
Löffler, Sigrid. „Danke, kein Bedarf? Wie die totgesagte Literaturkritik ihr Ableben überleben kann.“ Stimmen der Zeit. – Freiburg, Br. : Herder, vol. 235, no. 12, 2017, pp. 805–814.
Panel presentation part 1:
Panel presentation part 2: