SPANISH AMERICAN WRITERS, LITERARY PRIZES AND BIBLIOMETRIC INDICATORS
University of Quebec at Montreal (CANADA)
Theoretically, this research is located at the crossroad of several approaches. It is based, firstly, on the field concept (Bourdieu 1992), secondly, on scientometrics (De Solla Price 1963, Garfield 1980, Leydesdorff 1998), and, thirdly, on knowledge domain analysis (Hjorland and Albrechtsen 1995). In this article, I will be addressing a particular aspect of the Spanish American literary field: the relations between the main awards and the attention that an author’s work receives in terms of academic critical bibliography, an aspect rarely studied.
On the one hand, in his analysis of the boom of the Spanish American novel, Emir Rodríguez Monegal (1972) mentions the importance of the different literary prizes available during the emergence of that movement. Since the end of the boom –almost forty years ago–, the number of literary awards has kept growing. However, with a few exceptions (Garfield 1980, 1991), there are essentially no studies about the relations between the critical bibliography about literary work and the reception of prizes. On the other hand, the relations between the bibliometric indicators associated to a scientist and the winning of main scientific prizes have been largely studied (Benjamin 2003; Bjork 2001; Charlton 2007; Crawford 2002; Dardo 2004; Friedman 2001; Gingras and Wallace 2009; Hargittai 2002; Karazija and Momkauskaitë 2004; Lindhal 1992; Rodríguez-Navarro 2011).
In this paper, my purpose will be to identify the Spanish American writers that have won main literary prizes and to analyse the bibliometric indicators associated to their work. The indicators will be obtained from the Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLAIB), covering a period of over 100 years of critical publications (1900-2011). Firstly, I will consider the 25 most prestigious literary awards received by Spanish American writers: Alfaguara, Alfonso Reyes, Anagrama, Biblioteca breve, Café Gijón, Cervantes, Corona de oro, De la crítica, Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels, Felipe Trigo, Formentor, Grinzane Cavour, Herralde, Jerusalem, Juan Rulfo, Loewe, Médicis, Menéndez Pelayo, Neustadt, Nobel, Planeta, Príncipe de Asturias, Primavera, Reina Sofía de poesía, Rómulo Gallegos, Salambó. Secondly, I will identify all the Spanish American authors that have received these awards and I will search the MLAIB in order to obtain the number of publications associated to each writer. This implies the analysis of the critical bibliography of over 100 authors, a task that would be impossible without the existence of digital databases and the use of quantitative methods. Finally, once these indicators are compiled, I will be able to compare the volume of the critical bibliography to the number of literary prizes received.
At a higher level of analysis, my purpose will be to illustrate the importance and the potentiality that digital resources and bibliometrics represent for studying the development of the literary field. I will also highlight the challenge of dealing with the procedures of transferring and interpreting data in a discipline where most researchers and students are not usually trained to work with quantitative methods and to perform quantitative analysis.