The Specialism of Unspecificity: Autonomy Claims and the Authority of Modern Writers - Het specialisme van onspecificiteit: Autonomieclaims en de autoriteit van moderne schrijvers

Laurens Ham


Autonomy is often interpreted as a historical phenomenon: in field theory and other historical narratives about literature, we see the tendency to formulate a ‘starting point’ for the autonomization of the literary field and of poetics. Drawing on the ideas of Andrew Goldstone and others, this article develops a different perspective. It shows that literary autonomy also functions as a discourse, through which authors claim a social position. This position is not one of detachment and demarcation, but one of a principled lack of any specific political or ideological attachment. Some writers, including important Dutch authors such as Multatuli and Willem Frederik Hermans, use this autonomy claim to underpin their authority.


Autonomy; Authority; Literary Authorship; Public Intellectual; Multatuli; W.F. Hermans / Autonomie; autoriteit; literair auteurschap; publieke intellectueel; Multatuli; W.F. Hermans

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