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The career of Icelandic writers and the literary field in 1970 to 2000 Guðrún Valsdóttir An introduction to a thesis proposal… Uppsala University Department.

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Presentation on theme: "The career of Icelandic writers and the literary field in 1970 to 2000 Guðrún Valsdóttir An introduction to a thesis proposal… Uppsala University Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 The career of Icelandic writers and the literary field in 1970 to 2000 Guðrún Valsdóttir An introduction to a thesis proposal… Uppsala University Department of Education Didactic and Educational Studies University of Iceland Department of Education

2 The goal is to describe and explain the interaction between the literary field and the developing writer Research questions The writing craft is highly respected In Iceland and there are many young persons aspiring to become writers, driven with much illuso/passion for artistic work. Only a few of them receive high consecration in the field and succeed to become full time writers.  Which interaction of persons (agents) and the literary field (and the social space) is necessary to bring forth the highly consecrated literary writer? Even if the artistic field is unsecure in terms of personal economy, many persons dedicate all their working live without ever being really consecrated, but they keep on creating. Therefore, additional research questions may define other factors than the consecration – fame/respectability - which acts as a reward.  Why do many young men and women enter a very unsecure career by taking the risk to become an artist/writer?

3 Material The material consists of long biographical interviews with 22 active writers between 30 and 75 years. I also interviewed many other agents in the field, those interviews were qualitative but more structured. Besides the interviews, I have compiled other types of information, e.g. written text, statistic, researches, etc. Analysis The interviews were taped and later transcribed. The initial analysis was based on themes from the interview guide. But after trying out some alternatives I now find it most promising to do the analysis according to Bourdieu’s main concepts: Habitus, capital and field. The different chapters The career of the writers The literary field The writing craft

4 The career of the writers This is the story of the writer’s career; their developing writing and growing consecration in the literary field. I follow 22 writers through the different stages of their journey through the literary field. The main emphasis on the years between 1970 and 2000, and the journey is divided into several defined periods… ◦ The young aspirant writer. The time until they are around twenty ◦ Debutant and the entrance into the field. Usually between 20 and 35 ◦ The legitimated writer. Usually around 40 ◦ The established writer. Usually around 50 ◦ The canonized writer. Very few I use data from the interviews and the main concepts from Bourdieu: Habitus, capital, field, strategy, consecration etc., to construct a story of the writer’s craft.

5 I focus on the relations between the writer and the literary field, the interaction which brings forth the consecrated writer. There is a combination of habitus and field, which is an explanation both of the selection of writers who mange to reach the goal and how others may see their efforts let down at any time during their journey towards consecration. My approach is to investigate and analyse the story of 22 consecrated writers, and describe and explain their success by illuminating patterns, strategies and background. The writers have taken somehow different routes towards consecration, but I have found enough similarities to describe successful patterns of certain combinations of habitus and the field.

6 The literary field The goal of this chapter is to show the bigger picture of the literary field and the social conditions of the aspirant writers. The main structure of the field is discussed but always keeping the writer’s situation in mind. The literary field is the arena that the writer is dependent upon. In the beginning they are more an audience and readers, but later act as agents in interaction with other agents in the field. To describe and explain their career, the mechanism of the social space and the literary field has to be explained. The focus is on the writers career, how they learn to become writers and on visualising their history by choosing the main influencing and structuring aspects of their calling.

7 The main emphasis in the field chapter is on… ◦ The social space – the development of the main structure and trends in the society during my study period. ◦ The cultural history – the main aspects like literature, languages, schools and education, and the struggle for independence from 1880 until ◦ The room of possibilities – the different literary styles, schools, and the major works. ◦ The different agents – writers, critics, scholars and intellectuals, the editors, etc. ◦ Institutions and organisations – publications houses, the Writers Union, The Writers Fund, the media, the academy. ◦ The book market – ◦ The construction of the literary field at some turning points

8 The writing craft ◦ The several authors of the literary text ◦ The organization of place and time ◦ The art of the writing process, the ideas leading to the finished text ◦ The development of the professional writer and the professionalization of the literary field ◦ The development of the writers habitus I visualise the development of the writing craft; both the mastery of the writing act – from idea to a finished text - but also the organization of the working strategy and the relation to the “outer” world in the writing process. In learning to master all the “other writers or co-authors” of their literary text – peers, editors, critics and readers – they change from be manly a writing person to professional writer.

9 The writing craft, cont… I test the concept of professionalism to investigate how the writers work has changed in the 1990:s, both in the writers relations in the field and in their own working conditions while creating the text. The use the concept habitus to investigate the developing thought, feelings and behavior of the writers, or the writers habitus. Do that concept, capture the subject/writers enough? Or do I have to use other concepts, like identity, to explain the developing images the persons have about them selves, images of them as a writers, and what kind of writers they are?


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