Katharine A. Burnett opens Cavaliers and Economists with the premise that southern literature developed “in tandem with economic modernization—not in spite of it” (4). She goes on to suggest that, even as early as the 1830s, southern literary efforts “developed in resistance to shifts in an emerging capitalist system and used those shifts to rationalize slavery and southern society as it existed” (4). Burnett’s work is clearly influenced by recent attempts to approach southern studies through a global lens, yet her insistence that earlier southern literature embraces, rather than resists, global capitalism becomes especially interesting when she suggests that nineteenth-century southern writers used “the language of economics . . . to reframe mainstream representations of the region through popular literary forms and genres that proliferated in the early-nineteenth century transatlantic literary culture” (9). Hinting at a similarity between capitalist systems’ use of...
Cavaliers and Economists: Global Capitalism and the Development of Southern Literature, 1820–1860
Autonomy: The Social Ontology of Art under Capitalism
Christopher Bundrick is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Lancaster. His research focuses on southern regionalism, and he is the author of essays about Thomas Nelson Page, Mary Murfree, Charles Chesnutt, and Elliott White Springs.
Christopher Bundrick; Cavaliers and Economists: Global Capitalism and the Development of Southern Literature, 1820–1860
Autonomy: The Social Ontology of Art under Capitalism. American Literature 1 September 2021; 93 (3): 531–533. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-9361335
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