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A World Prize for a World Thinker? How Hannah Arendt tried to get Karl Jaspers a Nobel Prize

Calendar Thursday, 26 November 2020
Calendar 16:00-18:00

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An online public lecture with guest speaker, Professor Carlos Spoerhase (Bielefeld University), by the Transnational Cultural and Visual Studies research theme at the School of Modern Languages.


To reconstruct the history of the Nobel Prize and its impact on the marketing of world literature would be a task of staggering dimensions. Nevertheless, letters and archival documents offer a glimpse into its workings. Taking recent scholarship in the sociology of literature as a starting point, the talk examines Hannah Arendt’s efforts to secure a Nobel Prize for Karl Jaspers as a case study in the globalization of the literary field following the Second World War. The talk shows how Arendt and her allies in German and American publishing activated their international contacts to influential people in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, France, Italy, Great Britain, Japan and the United States to secure the “world prize” for the “world thinker”. Furthermore, it also tries to explain why these intensive international efforts ultimately failed.


Carlos Spoerhase teaches German literature and intellectual history at Bielefeld University. He is a member of the editorial staff of \"Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte\" and a co-editor of \"Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte\". His most recent paper is: “A Monster in Its Breadth and Length”: Schiller’s Wallenstein and the Poetics of Scale. In: Modern Philology 118 (2020), 87–106.

Simultaneous Translation

The event will be delivered in the medium of English. You are welcome to ask questions in the medium of Welsh during the Q&A session. If you intend to do this, please contact by Thursday 19 November to request simultaneous translation. Please note that 10% or more of those planning to attend will need to request this provision in order for it to be sourced and will be subject to resource availability.


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