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Mats Malm new Permanent Secretary in the Swedish Academy

Mats Malm, Professor in Comparative Literature at the University of Gothenburg, is appointed new Permanent Secretary in the Swedish Academy.‘The effort to change the Academy has come a long way, and that effort will continue,’ says Mats Malm.

portrait mats malmThe voting took place at the Academy’s Thursday meeting at the Börshuset in Stockholm, and was announced Friday morning.

‘It’s really important what’s happening now. The effort to change the Academy has come a long way. It’s an important task, and if the Academy think it suits me, I’m up for the challenge,’ says Mats Malm.

Mats Malm became a member of the Swedish Academy in December 2018, and will become Permanent Secretary on 1 June 2019. He succeeds Anders Olsson, who has been operating as Permanent Secretary in Sara Danius’s absence.

How will it be noticeable that you are the new Permanent Secretary?

‘I will answer that in June.’

How will you continue the renewal process that has already begun?

‘I will answer that in June.’

Mats Malm says it’s exciting to take on the commission as Permanent Secretary, but that it was unexpected.

‘It was nothing I planned for, on the contrary. I’ve never had any desire to be in the spotlight. I will monitor everything that’s going on, but there’s a constructive climate in the Academy now, a positive drive, and that’s good.

How have you experienced your first four months in the Academy?

‘Surprisingly positive. Very constructive and forward-thinking. There’s been an improvement in the problematic parts, and everything that concerns the organisation, such as staff and division of responsibilities, is getting clearer all the time. Everyone is focused on the future.

And there will be two Nobel Prizes in Literature this fall?

‘Yes. But I can tell more about that in June. Or rather, after summer, when it comes to the Nobel Prizes.

How will your new job affect you position at the University?

‘I’ll be on leave, and we’ll have to discuss the forms for that. But I will, of course, keep my PhD students, but right now I have only one.’

And your work with The Swedish Literature Bank?

‘We will have to reorganise that somewhat, find a way to delegate some parts of it, at least. We have already begun that work. But it’s essential for me to keep some of it, since that work is important to me.’

Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg, is delighted about Mats Malms new commission.

‘This is very positive news for the University of Gothenburg and the Faculty of Arts. I wish Mats all the best in his work to take care of and develop this cultural institution,’ says Eva Wiberg.

Marie Demker, dean at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Gothenburg, congratulates Mats Malm and wish him the best of luck.

‘I’m pleased that such a profound researcher and humanist can take on this commission. I also wish to emphasise his commitment in digitalisation issues, as I think it’s important for the position of literature in society, and will contribute to make the Swedish Academy relevant in the future,’ says Marie Demker.

Translation to English: Annika Wall

Photo: Johan Wingborg