Capital, field, illusio. Can Bourdieu's sociology help us understand the development of literature in medieval Iceland?

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Dokumentart: ConferenceObject
Date: 2002
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Sonstige - Neuphilologie
DDC Classifikation: 839 - Other Germanic literatures
Keywords: Saga , Island
Other Keywords:
Pierre Bourdieu , different types of capital in modern society , sociology of culture
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Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology has its origin in his ethnographic work on the honor-based society of Kabyllia a region of Algeria. It is from this work as an ethnographer that he developed his concepts of different types of capital in modern society, es­pecially symbolic and cultural capital. In my paper I will discuss what new under­stand­ing Bourdieu’s sociology of culture may bring to the study of the relationship between saga-writing and the society which fostered it. Basing myself on the example of Snorri Sturluson and his milieu, I will show what role cultural activities such as saga-writing may have had for actors in early thirteenth-century society. An investigation of the different types of capital available to these actors will show the interrelationship between cultural activities and power-broking. However, the evidence also indicates that literature may also have begun to have an independent status as a cultural endeavour and opens the question whether there was an embryonic literary field in medieval Iceland which might explain the extent of the literary activity during the period.

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