Literature on the Move
Funded by: Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF),
Based at: Austrian Academy of Sciences
Duration: 3 years

Research on migrant writing has concentrated on questions of transnationalisation over the last fifteen years. However, the focus of these discussions has been on literary analysis. Nobody has yet broached the question what the emergence of these new authors has meant in terms of the structures of the literary fields where they have come to the fore. Can we observe a similar process of transnationalisation when we look at the emergence of immigrant writing from a literary-sociological perspective? And if so, how would such a sociological analysis change the understanding of the works written by these authors and their reception?

Literature on the Move departs from the hypothesis that we can indeed observe a general process of transnationalisation in the Austrian literary field and that these changes explain the paradox of success and marginalisation that authors who have immigrated to Austria have experienced in the course of their careers. These new conditions have opened up possibilities for immigrant authors who further the transnationalisation of the field thematically and stylistically. At the same time, the results of our project will enable us to show that these authors are not at the margins of the Austrian literary field, as their categorisation as "migrant writers" implies, but at the centre of its transnationalisation that also has an impact on all other authors within the field.

Our project will use a comparative historical approach and combine sociological methods with literary analysis in order to describe the specificity of the current situation in the Austrian literary field. Departing from Bourdieu's analysis of the literary field, we will develop a multi-dimensional model that will enable us to explain the positionings of immigrant writers in literary fields. Based on this model, we will analyse the structures in the Austrian literary field at four different points in time in the course of the 20th century and identify how individual immigrant authors position(ed) themselves within the field of possibilities open to them and how they were/are positioned by other actors. The historical comparison will help us to understand the specific circumstances and actions that have brought about the transnationalisation of the literary field that is currently underway.

In the course of the project, we will analyse the entry and the positionings of the following authors: Elias Canetti, Milo Dor und György Sebestyén as examples of writers who arrived in Austria in the course of the 20th century. With regard to the developments since the 1990s, we will discuss a selection of the following authors: Zdenka Becker, Seher Çakır, Dimitré Dinev, Susanne Gregor, Alma Hadžibeganović, Ekaterina Heider, Grzegorz Kielawski, Anna Kim, Radek Knapp, Viktorija Kocman, Denis Mikan, Julya Rabinowich, Doron Rabinovici, Magdalena Sadlon, Hamid Sadr, Michael Stavarič, Stanislav Struhar, Kundeyt Şurdum, Sina Tahayori, Vladimir Vertlib, Şerafettin Yıldız and Sohn Young.