Literary Celebrity Reconsidered

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The ongoing celebritisation of society not only comprises ‘celebrity sectors’ such as entertainment and sports, but also literature. As in other cultural fields, the commodities to be sold – books – are marketed using the ‘personalities’ directly connected to them by authors appearing on television shows or being selected for feature articles. The aim of the article is to point out limitations to the theoretical framework used in the study of literary celebrity. We argue for a differentiation in the use of the concept of celebrity in literary studies in three respects. Firstly, there should be a differentiation regarding author’s cultural capital. In contrast to the general tendency in celebrity studies to focus on popular culture, in literary studies the application of the theory has been limited to the most prestigious areas of the literary field. Consequently, a broadening of the perspective is necessary: authors of trade fiction may be conceived of as literary celebrities too. Secondly, there is a need for geographical differentiation, since the scope of influence of literary celebrities may vary significantly. Thirdly, we will argue for a diachronic differentiation that takes into account the changing functions and uses of a celebrity author over time. The main example, the Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf, shows the necessity of a stronger focus on the functions of literary celebrities, for instance in the construction of cultural and national identities. Furthermore, celebrity is important for establishing a more comprehensive literary history and for the complex concept of literary value.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Literature Studies

Keywords

  • literary celebrity, Selma Lagerlöf, diacronic differentiation, literary value
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
JournalCelebrity Studies
Volume5
Issue number1–2
StatePublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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