From its origins in the early nineteenth century to its resurgence in the last decade (Casanova, Damrosch, Moretti, et al.), the concept of World Literature/Weltliteratur has challenged scholars to conceive of global literary space as the entirety of literature, the best of all literary works, or a world market of cultural exchange. While each new theory attempts to advance the perennial concept to fit its respective global era, it has gone overlooked that the concept itself is largely the result of a complex discursive history beginning with scholarship on Goethe and early globalization. This dissertation breaks from previous narratives of Weltliteratur as the idea of a sole visionary (Goethe) in order to ask not what Weltliteratur is in theory, but how it is realized through an array of approaches toward the organization of literature in a persistently changing discourse of globalization. In three case studies of such practices, this dissertation examine the first anthology of Weltliteratur, Johannes Scherr's 1848 Bildersaal der Weltliteratur; the National Socialist vision of Weltliteratur in the journal Weltliteratur: Romane, Erzählungen und Gedichte aller Zeiten und Völker (1935-1939) / Die Weltliteratur: Berichte, Leseproben und Wertung (1940-1944); and finally the digital perspective of an alternative Weltliteratur archive in the algorithm-driven organization of literature in online book commerce at Amazon.com. This dissertation demonstrates how the practices of literary mediation in these collections create, rather than reflect the notion of the world literary. In doing so, it presents a new approach to Weltliteratur, not simply as another manifestation of a nineteenth-century idea, but as practices of literary mediation with real and measurable effects on the way in which texts are translated, circulated, and read.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2015. Major: Germanic Studies. Advisor: Professor Rembert Hueser. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 355 pages.
Patten, Andrew Nance.
All that is the case: the collection, exhibition, and practice of Weltliteratur.
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