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date: 20 January 2021

Literary Prize Culturelocked

  • Stevie MarsdenStevie MarsdenUniversity of Leicester, College of Arts Humanities and Law- CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies

Summary

As signifiers of literary value and taste, influencers of the literary canon, and indicators of distinction, literary prizes have played, and continue to play, an extremely important role in the promotion and celebration of literature. Far from being novel embellishments to an author’s career or book’s reputation, literary prizes have in fact become central components to the production, promotion, and longevity of literature in popular culture. They can increase book sales and print runs, heighten exposure and publicity, and consecrate an author’s place within literary canons. They are their own industry in and of themselves, their success dependent on many factors and agents including authors, publishers, booksellers, prize administrators, judges, and journalists. Literary prize scholarship is an ever-expanding, interdisciplinary field. Scholars have examined literary prizes in relation to cultural economics, sociology, linguistics, gender studies, postcolonial theory, book history, and publishing studies. However, when considering the impact of literary prize culture, it is important to remember that they are structured upon imperfect processes of judgment and selection. Yet, despite their limitations, literary prizes endure as one of the most captivating, dynamic and unique phenomena in literary and publishing culture. It is important for scholars to continue to interrogate literary prizes as a cultural phenomenon, in order to acquire a full understanding of the true impact they have on literary and publishing culture.

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