ASECS: 2018: March 22-25, 2018, Orlando, FL
Organizers: Christopher Chiasson (Indiana University), and Anita Lukic (University of Pittsburgh)
Responses to Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel and work by Robert Darnton and Peter Brooks have directed attention to best-selling literature in Britain and France, but the topic remains understudied in other contexts. The German case is particularly relevant for exploring Franco Moretti’s contention that readers decide what becomes canonical, as the divergence between eighteenth-century popularity and current canonicity could hardly be greater: Iffland and Kotzebue were the most popular dramatists of the Goethe Era, not Lessing, Goethe, or Schiller; authors such as Pestalozzi, Salzmann, and Lafontaine wrote novels that out-sold Moritz and Wieland. Popular poets such as Johann Gleim and Wilhelm Müller have only remained canonical insofar as composers set their poems to music, in contrast to Novalis or Hölderlin. Moreover, canonical authors often enjoyed their greatest popular successes in genres that are now held in low esteem. Does Moretti’s thesis need to be revised given this disjunction? Can Darnton, Brooks, or Catherine Gallagher contribute to our understanding of German best-sellers? Papers addressing maligned or peripheral authors, works, or genres are encouraged, as well as those considering the institutions of canonization. So-called “minor” literatures and comparative perspectives are also welcome.
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