Culture Magazine

Nationalism and the Novel

By Bbenzon @bbenzon

An elegant argument about literary nationalism in Journal of Cultural Analytics today. Contra Pascale Casanova's thesis about the nationalism of minor literatures, the US is most navel-gazing. Followed by France!

— Ted Underwood (@Ted_Underwood) February 17, 2021

Abstrct of, Cultural Capitals: Modeling 'Minor' European Literature:

Conceived against the backdrop of ongoing debates regarding the status of national literary traditions in world literature, this essay offers a computational analysis of how national attention is distributed in contemporary fiction across multiple national contexts. Building on the work of Pascale Casanova, we ask how different national literatures engage with national themes and whether this engagement can be linked to one’s position within a global cultural hierarchy. Our data consists of digital editions of 200 works of prize-winning fiction, divided into four subcorpora of equal size: U.S.-American, French, German, and a collection of novels drawn from 19 different “minor” European languages. We ultimately find no evidence to support Casanova’s theory that minor literatures are more nationalistic than literature produced within major cultural capitals. Indeed, the evidence points to the exact opposite effect: all three of the models we employ suggest that novels written in more minor languages tend to be significantly less nationalistically focused than those written in European centres like France or Germany. Nevertheless our data do confirm Casanova’s larger hypothesis of the existence of visible stylistic effects associated with a book’s location within a global cultural hierarchy of languages.

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