The end of literature? On the study of literary culture and its relevance

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    Rejecting internal analyses of the end of literature like the one by William Marx, the article argues that in order to assess the current position of literature an external scope is paramount. The book market seems to be the proper context to analyze the phenomenon literature. On the basis of recent research on literary institutions and using the latest data concerning trends in the book market, it is shown that the selling of books in the Netherlands have decreased significantly, and, moreover, that the function and use of literature in the age of new media has changed considerably. Yet, allegations vis-à-vis the market having marginalized literature and the predominance of a media-driven mass culture can easily lead to unfounded presentism. It is argued that the perspective might be reversed by looking at the literary past from the 19th century onwards as a period in which market, commercial drives and media culture came to the fore as well. This approach may result in a more encompassing attention to the societal embeddedness of literary culture, past and present.
    Translated title of the contributionThe end of literature?: On the study of literary culture and its relevance
    Original languageDutch
    Pages (from-to)129-148
    Number of pages20
    JournalNederlandse Letterkunde
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2014


    • bookmarket, functions of lliterature, literary culture

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