Stephen King: From Horror Writer to Literary Author? How the National Book Foundation Challenged the Traditional Perspective on Literature.

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The stark opposition between traditional literature and popular fiction is still highly relevant to the modern literary world. Bourdieu's The Field of Cultural Production (1993) introduced and explained several oppositions that construct literary prejudice; these ideas have been used to investigate Stephen King's literary position, which does not match the traditional literary profile. This is the reason why the National Book Foundation's decision to award King the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2003 provoked a heated debate. Some might interpret the events in 2003 as a break with literary tradition, but English' theory on cultural awards, especially his concept capital intraconversion, in The Economy of Prestige (2005) suggests that consecrating untraditional authors is in fact a tactical move. Publishers–who financially support literary organisations–demand that literary prizes remain of re levance to the general public in order to boost sales with the tag 'award-winning'. This requires (re)engaging with American popular culture, which can be achieved by announcing non-literary bestseller and genre writers as the winners of literary prizes. In the case of the National Book Foundation and its annual medal, this pattern did not develop after the discussion in 2003. Stephen King's consecration did therefore not mark a turning point in literary appreciation by the National Book Foundation, but is an example of capital intraconversion.
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