DFG Research Training Group Globalization and Literature. Representations, Transformations,  Interventions

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Anna-Katharina Krüger

Dr. des Anna Katharina Krüger


Dr. Krüger was a PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group from 2013 to 2017. She finished and defended her dissertation in summer 2017.


Dissertation Abstract

Birth of the (Non) European Author. Testimonial Narration and the Construction of Authorship

One of the most active debates in the field of postcolonial literature and theory is the "Representation of the Other". Gayatri Chakravorty Spivaks famous essay Can the Subaltern Speak? describes the problematic situation of the subaltern being represented by western academic elite – but so far only very few studies draw attention to the power relations between subaltern authors and the field of publishing, especially focusing on the ownership of author rights.
The dissertation wants to contribute to the postcolonial debate about the representation of subaltern voices by particularly concentrating on the creation and marketing of "indigenous authorship" and "marginality" as goods on the global book market. Furthermore, the dissertation will highlight the negotiation of power and authority within the publishing process as well as it will explore the juridical and political situation of the indigenous authors as presented within the main texts and paratexts. In doing so, authorship theories will help to read the relationship between "subaltern/marginalised" authors and agents of the book market, such as editors and publishers.
The dissertation will look in particular at texts which are set in the publishing triangle between England, America and Africa, opening not only a broad geographical but also a temporal frame. The Latin American genre testimonio (e.g. Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia) will serve as a starting point for genre observations. Thus, all texts will be analysed on the grounds of their autobiographical narration of oppression and injustice. With the aid of 16th century Spanish emigrant narrations, as well as contemporary works like Dave Eggers' What is the What (2006), the 'tension' between autobiography and fictional writing will be exposed and used to demonstrate how this is a central point of discussion for testimonial literature in particular. I will argue that especially slave narratives, such as writings by Olaudah Equiano (The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, published in 1789) and Frederick Douglass (Life and times of Frederick Douglass, written by himself, published in 1892) must be analysed as testimonial writings, operating on similar if not the same market demands as the testimonio of the 1960s. All these text will be examined to understand how and through whom authorship is initiated and represented.


"The Construction of Authorship, Authority, and Authenticity in Testimonial Narration: Re-Reading Me Llamo Rigoberta Menchú". In: Dealing with Authorship. Authors between Texts, Editors and Public Discourses, hrsg. v. Sarah Burnautzki, Frederik Kiparski, Raphaël Thierry, Maria Zannini, 2018.