Youth and Revolutionary Romanticism: Young Writers Within and Beyond the Literary Field
This chapter examines the role of generational logic in Pierre Bourdieu’s influential theory of the literary field. Through a close analysis of the role Bourdieu’s ascribes to “youth” in the struggle over value within the field, we critically situate the context in which individual young writers attempt to claim the status of “author.” Through an analysis of Dave Eggers’ bestselling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, we demonstrate how young writers can explore the powerful association between young people and aesthetic innovation, and how such a tactic must also contend with the “low” status of memoir in the hierarchy of genres. The chapter concludes by considering how the stakes elucidated by Bourdieu apply differently to young artists whose race, class and gender make their claim to authorship and artistry more problematic, by considering the claim that memoir has been key to the wider recognition of the aesthetics of hip-hop.
KeywordsYoung People Cultural Capital Cultural Production Literary History Generational Logic
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