Unpopular Culture: Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1990s
In the last fifteen years or so, a wide community of artists working in a variety of western European nations have overturned the dominant traditions of comic book publishing as it has existed since the end of the Second World War. These artists reject both the traditional form and content of comic books (hardcover, full-colour 'albums' of humour or adventure stories, generally geared towards children), seeking instead to instil the medium with experimental and avant-garde tendencies commonly associated with the visual arts. Unpopular Culture addresses the transformation of the status of the comic book in Europe since 1990.
Increasingly, comic book artists seek to render a traditionally degraded aspect of popular culture un-popular, transforming it through the adoption of values borrowed from the field of 'high art.' The first English-language book to explore these issues, Unpopular Culture represents a challenge to received histories of art and popular culture that downplay significant historical anomalies in favour of more conventional narratives. In tracing the efforts of a large number of artists to disrupt the hegemony of high culture, Bart Beaty raises important questions about cultural value and its place as an important structuring element in contemporary social processes.
- Series: Studies in Book and Print Culture
- World Rights
- Page Count: 320 pages
- Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.0in x 9.3in
Unpopular Culture not only makes a highly significant contribution to the field of comics scholarship, but also makes a major contribution to the field of cultural studies in general. The developments which it details and theorises represent the emergence of comics in Europe as an art form with an avant-garde, experimental tendency. The scholarship is remarkable, and the book is groundbreaking.
School of Modern Languages, University of Leicester
Unpopular Culture is a strong book that achieves a very difficult synthesis of a well-researched and wide-ranging geographical overview with a solid, theoretically based argument – Pierre Bourdieu’s model of the cultural field enables Beaty to perform a precise and nuanced analysis of aesthetic and economic changes in European comics over time while surveying the work of many of the most notable creators in the field. The writing is both sophisticated and lucid, and the book makes a significant contribution to the critical literature on comics.
Department of English, Stetson University
Bart Beaty is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Calgary.
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