Dr Rebecca Braun, Lancaster University
In line with the expanding remit of literary studies, my research assesses how authors function as cultural artefacts. Not only do authors create texts that carry cultural significance, they are themselves culturally constructed within different contexts and through different media: the text itself, the literary industry, national and international cultural politics, humanities scholarship and the various institutions it underpins. Authorship – ‘being an author’ – must therefore be understood not just as a literary practice, but as an ever-evolving process of construction undertaken by multiple players, in multiple contexts and to multiple ends. The precise nature of this process can only be grasped through an integrated approach that interprets textual phenomena historically, sociologically, culturally and linguistically. In pioneering such a research model, my project has the potential to change the way scholars across a range of Arts and Humanities disciplines approach the social significance of studying culture.The focus of my research is in the first instance the German-speaking world. In particular, I examine the changing nature of the post-war public sphere, and trace the strategies developed by key authors to negotiate their integration in evolving media debates on image and identity over the last 60 years. Working with a range of source materials from literary texts to TV documentaries and government statistics on programmes of literary support, I interrogate concrete examples of how authors manipulate different text types, are received by different audiences, and are put to various wider social uses by a series of intermediaries. I argue that while authors such as Günter Grass, Elfriede Jelinek, or Daniel Kehlmann work within dominant, historically conditioned public understandings of their significance, they also use both their literature and other media texts to challenge these discourses and subvert them. Significant developmens in literary aesthetics can be traced across the period that both echo and interrupt wider sociological and technological developments. Equally, the different ways in which authors are constructed by others as symbolic personalities – e.g. as important cultural leaders or markedly compromised individuals – can illuminate the cultural moments into which they are placed.My interrogation of authors as important cultural phenomena is achieved by fusing together the various different methodological approaches underpinning literary and sociological lines of enquiry. In so doing, I develop a broadly applicable research model that lends itself to comparative investigation.Outputs:1) My monograph, Writing Life: The Making of the Author in Germany’s Media Age, will provide a first systematic, interdisciplinary analysis of the political, social and cultural circumstances of authorship in post-war Germany.

2) A reader on authorship and fame will be published with a major UK/US publisher following a series of research events that will be carried out under the auspices of a research hub on ‘World Authorship’. I am founding this as a long-term venture at Lancaster University to bring my understanding of authorship in the German context into dialogue with researchers from different disciplines (History, Cultural Studies, English, and Linguistics) and different linguistic and geographical contexts. The hub will consist of a number of research strands. This award allows me to pilot the first, on ‘Authorship and Fame’, which will consist of a series of 4 colloquia and workshops, and a significant website.

3) Further work resulting from the hub: 2 co-authored articles (PI and steering group members) on literary celebrity seen in different cultural contexts and as understood through a discourse historical approach will exemplify the hub’s interdisciplinary work; 1 article on authorship and the internet by the RA will also straddle Literary and Media Studies