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Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (Aarhus University)

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen
Image Credit: Private Photo

Fellow in Research Area 5: "Building Digital Communities"

February – March 2024

The Virtues and Lack of Short Forms in World Literature

Of the three major modes of literature – prose, poetry and drama – it is clear that prose has become dominant in literary cultures. Even more so, the novel dominates publishing and translation at the expense of shorter prose forms. However, short prose forms have a great potential for playing a more significant role in world literature, not least in the educational system, where reading unabridged and shorter works is in demand. This project surveys the scarcity of canonical short stories and will use digital resources to qualify the thesis that, despite notable exceptions, e.g., Hans Christian Andersen and Jorge Luis Borges, longer forms tends to dominate literary cultures’ presence in world literature. The project will also consider how the notion of short prose fiction could be expanded by taking into account how certain works, e.g., Arabian Nights and philosophical narrative prose, lend themselves to be read in excerpts and that canonical processes support this use of the works.

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen is Professor of Comparative Literature at Aarhus University, Denmark. He is chair of the Book Panel of the Ministry of Culture Denmark (2023-26), director of the Center for Language Generation and AI (2023-) and an elected member of the Academia Europaea (2010-). Thomsen is the author of four books, including Mapping World Literature: (2008) and The New Human in Literature (2013), a co-author with Stefan Helgesson of Literature and the World (2019), and the editor of fourteen books, including World Literature: A Reader (2012), The Posthuman Condition (2012), Danish Literature as World Literature (2017), Literature: An Introduction to Theory and Analysis (2017) and The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism (2020). He was co-PI of the research project Posthuman Aesthetics (2014-18) and is the PI of the Velux Fonden-funded project Fabula-NET (2021-25). Thomsen is a co-editor of Orbis Litterarum, an advisory board member of the book series Literatures as World Literature (Bloomsbury Academic) and a member of the editorial board of Journal of World Literature. He was elected twice to the executive committee of the International Comparative Literature Association (2016-22).