Ueli Gyr

Small beings, great phenomenon

Garden gnomes from the perspective of popular culture nanology

Shortlink: https://www.waxmann.com/artikelART102332

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At home all over the world, garden gnomes remain diligent, even when placed in new roles. This paper considers previous debates, while providing new reflections on nanology – the science of garden gnomes – from a popular culture perspective. It provides historical and genealogical information demonstrating a progression from the court dwarfs and park gnomes of yesteryear to the garden gnomes of today. One of its central arguments revolves around the process of nanofication, in which the dwarf’s potential is used productively to open up new spaces and initiate innovative performances in society. Given their tendency to both polarize and provoke, gnomes have played a role in legal processes and jurisdictions. Associated with a corny, sentimental and emotional culture, the garden gnome proclaims a desire for a beautiful, idyllic and intact living environment.

dwarf, garden gnome, kitsch, material culture, nanology, popular culture, folk tale studies