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Festival as Field: Literary Festivals as Instantiations of Larger Cultural Spaces

  • Millicent Weber
Chapter
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)

Abstract

This chapter once again foregrounds empirical data collected from literary festival audiences. It does so to evaluate the extent to which the ethical hesitations raised in Chap.  5 about the grand social, cultural, and economic claims made by proponents of creative-industries-style approaches to urban regeneration are equally applicable to literary festivals. Pierre Bourdieu’s (The forms of capital. In: Richardson J (ed) Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. Greenwood, New York, pp 241–258, 1986; The rules of art (trans: Emanuel S). Polity Press, Cambridge, 1996; The field of cultural production. In: Finkelstein D, McCleery A (eds) The book history reader. Routledge, London/New York, pp 99–120, 2006) model of the literary field, as further developed and contextualised in Chap.  2, is reintroduced to situate and contextualise this discussion of the creative industries model, demonstrating how the evidence presented confirms the importance of conceptualising the literary festival as both embedded in the literary field and replicating it in microcosm. Literary festivals are situated within and exert pressure upon the unequal power relations that structure the literary field. Different political, cultural, social, and economic interests demonstrably compete at literary festivals. Discussing several high-profile scandals that have recently occurred at international literary festivals, this chapter uses this understanding of the relationship between festival and field to explore these scandals’ significance, not only as isolated events, but as illuminating underlying structural conflicts and power inequalities within the broader literary field. Because these scandals and the responses to them occurred not in only a public context but in a public instantiation of the literary field, they serve to make the structuring tensions of that field publicly visible in a stark and rare manner.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Millicent Weber
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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