This article addresses Pierre Bourdieu’s idea of heroic ages in art and the American comic book. Bourdieu characterized the French literary field in the mid nineteenth century as a heroic age. During this age writers and critics generated criteria of judgment that were autonomous from market forces and elite patronage. I argue that in the 1970s a similar heroic age began in American comic books where principles of autonomy and independent criteria of judgment appeared. I present a number of basic strategies during the heroic age of comic books that articulated these emerging principles of autonomy; yet show how several of these strategies were distinctly different than those found during the heroic age of French literature. I show how this difference reflected a structure in the comic book field markedly different from the structure in the field of French literature in the nineteenth century. I conclude by arguing that the case of American comic books shows how popular art fields can express the same heroic rebellion attributed to only high art fields in the work of Bourdieu.
|Keywords:||Cultural Studies, Comic Books, Visual Culture, Media Studies, Art Worlds|
Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, USA
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