Anti-Heroic Heroes in More or Less Heroic Media.


Symbolic representations in the visual arts are defined not only by their contents and formal arrangements but also by the media in which they are presented. The Swedish preference for deheroized heroes has created a national heroic iconography far from that of the public bronze monuments. It was in the illustrated weeklies of the nineteenth century, in the comic strips and the photographic journalism of this century that the national ideal of the unidealized man was created: he is a humble but witty and somewhat anarchistic anti-superman. An experiment in the 1940s to apotheosize the ordinary worker in comic strips was a flop, however. The comic strip medium lacked heroic connotations and so the message was missed. It is within the tradition of photographic documentarism that the ordinary Swede has been given his most sublime apotheosis.

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Johannesson, L., (1988) “Anti-Heroic Heroes in More or Less Heroic Media.”, Ethnologia Europaea 19(1), 85-95. doi:


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Lena Johannesson (University of Linköping)



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