“I didn’t know you could read”: Questioning the legitimacy of Kim Kardashian’s status as a literary and cultural intermediary’
journal contributionposted on 24.04.2019, 13:15 by Stevie Marsden
This paper considers the reactions to the announcement of the Kim Kardashian-West Book Klub and explores how this episode illustrated the perceived illegitimacy of celebrities like Kardashian-West, who are commonly associated with ‘lowbrow culture’, engaging with and discussing literature, an activity that has traditionally been seen as a middlebrow endeavour. The reactions to the Kardashian-West Book Klub not only reflect issues around the status of celebrities as cultural intermediaries but also bring to the fore historical principles that have questioned the intelligence and capabilities of women readers. This paper positions the Kim Kardashian-West Book Klub within the wider historical context of women readers and book clubs and considers the prestige, or lack thereof, of celebrities who try to be cultural and literary intermediaries. The paper also considers the Kardashian-West Book Klub in relation to other major celebrity book clubs and argues that such forays into literary culture are used by some celebrities to bolster their social and cultural capital, acting first and foremost as a branch of their personal brand identity, rather than as altruistic enterprises.