1. Does "distinction" in the following text mean "excellence" or "copyright"?

2. Does "gatekeepers" here mean "those who impose copyright rules" or "those who control the excellence degree and equality level of artworks"?


For new nations and for those within them, the arts often have an important symbolic value. The creation of a distinctively American art was, for example, an important national project in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As part of an even wider project of creating a distinctly American culture, it was one that engaged many individual and collective actors as well as various forms of expression and schools and styles within them. Cultural institutions and entrepreneurs, such as the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, were an important part of this project, and the role of distinction and gatekeepers should not be underplayed. But, to follow that example, Stieglitz was also someone who identified himself as an artist, not an artisan or businessman.


Both words seem to be oddly used. I can't tell what she thinks they mean here. Also, the odd yoking of a mass noun and a count noun threw me for a loop at first. If I were you, I would look in the back of the book for a glossary, and if there is none, riffle through it to see if she defines her terms somewhere. That said, I vaguely imagined that distinction is a public perception of an artist's value that derives from his reputation, and that gatekeepers are those who decide what gets exposure, like gallery owners and publishers.