Abstract for Florian Groß’s talk at “Cultural Distinctions Remediated: Beyond the High, the Low, and the Middle” (Leibniz University of Hannover, 15-17 December 2011):
‘Quality TV’ and ‘Graphic Novel’: What’s in a Name?
Florian Groß (American Studies, Hannover)
The terms Quality TV and Graphic Novel have become almost synonymous with a broad revaluation of television and comics, two media that have traditionally been related exclusively to popular, even mass, culture. And yet, both terms are less about a democratization of taste than about new forms of cultural distinction. Reminiscent of, though by no means identical with, historical processes of cultural distinction, both Quality TV and Graphic Novel refer to a certain subset of texts with higher aesthetic value and emphasize the role of creativity and education in their production as well as reception. Given the media to which these two categories of cultural distinction are applied and the timeframe in which they have developed, it is necessary to come to terms with their specific forms of distinction, which can no longer be read along the lines of high/low culture, but rather as embedded processes of an ever-expanding popular culture that ultimately have to be considered on their own.
Through an analysis of the terms Quality TV and Graphic Novel with respect to collaborative and individual authorship/production, seriality, and media convergence, this talk attempts to highlight the specific cultural work performed by the terms and thus shed light on related intra-/intermedial developments. Furthermore, it will explore their instrumentality in redefining television and comics, as well as media culture in general, in times of a rapidly changing media landscape.