The term “cultural capital” has entered the general lexicon of cultural criticism as a description of social prestige won through the acquisition of knowledge rather than monetary wealth. And, yet, for all its utility in delineating the form of value acquired by students in the study of literature in school, cultural capital has proven limited in its ability to explain the dynamics of the contemporary literary field at large. Addressing this limitation, this essay reintroduces a lesser‐known term from the work of Pierre Bourdieu, “social capital,” exploring how it becomes strikingly visible in one of the dominant popular genres of our time, epic fantasy.

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