In much of the recent scholarship on economics and literature, the depth of insight is inversely proportional to the status claimed for literature as such. For example, Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro’s Cents and Sensibility argues that economists need to read literary works for their great moral wisdom, and they fault literary scholars for ignoring this appeal and for failing to understand basic economics. But as this survey of recent publications demonstrates, the conjunction of these critiques is odd: literary critics have been skeptical of claims about genuine value precisely because they have attended so closely to the markets structuring cultural production. What ultimately stands out in recent scholarship on economics and literature is its turn away from complex accounts of the nature of literary form and its turn toward considerations of the representation of economic life.
Literature, Economics, and a Turn to Content
Patrick Fessenbecker is assistant professor in the Program in Cultures, Civilizations, and Ideas at Bilkent University. He studies nineteenth-century Anglophone literature and topics in the philosophy of literature. His essays have appeared in New Literary History, English Literary History, and the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, among other venues, and he is author of Reading Ideas in Victorian Literature: Literary Content as Artistic Experience (2020).
Bryan Yazell is assistant professor in the Department for the Study of Culture and the Danish Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Southern Denmark. His research focuses on the various ways that literary sources, fiction and nonfiction alike, inform public responses to social welfare and related issues from the late nineteenth century into the present. His work has appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Journal of Transnational American Studies, and The Routledge Companion to Transnational American Studies.
Patrick Fessenbecker, Bryan Yazell; Literature, Economics, and a Turn to Content. the minnesota review 1 May 2021; 2021 (96): 69–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00265667-8851534
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