Two distinctions in “value” in Coleman’s article

Coleman’s article introducing the prize highlights a few different aspects of “value” in literature. First, the author is introduced as having value – one of the aims of the prize is cited to be “to encourage and reward authors”. Placing value on the author obviously has its socio-literary problems, thinking back to Barthes and Foucault, and the goal to “reward” authors places the author on an even higher pedestal in regarding the individual “creator” as the chief producer of cultural work. Coleman then goes on to criticize the award’s scope – in limiting the the awardable work to novels, he says, you continue to limit prize-branded literary work to the type of work that already monopolizes prizes. Here we see another dimension of literary “value”, as Coleman clearly contends that awards are an evident mark of the novel’s domination over cultural rewards. This demonstrates not only the cultural pedestal that the novel is on, like the author, but also returns to the question of what literature is. Coleman cites “laundry lists and football coupons” as fitting under the definition of literary work, which demonstrates the continuing tension of defining literature. The importance  of “value”, however, separates such types of literature from the novel.

In thinking about the illusio, all of these distinctions in “value” hinge upon Huggan’s summation of “value” as a construct. Literary work has no intrinsic value – a work’s distinction (and in this case, prize-branding) as valuable rests upon the cultural schema of what is valuable. The two distinctions in literary value Coleman’s article outlines demonstrates the cultural relativity of value – in valuing the author we emphasize the individual creator (and often, their identity) in the process of production, and in valuing the novel over other forms, we value one structure of writing over many others.