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Imagining the Market

ENGL 261.301
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major


This course will examine "the market" as it appears in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century fiction.  We will observe the culture's fascination with Wall Street in the 1980s, the dot-com exuberance of the 1990s, and the struggles over the “information economy” and global labor in the 2000s.  The syllabus will cover realistic and not-so-realistic novels by Don DeLillo, Stewart O’Nan, Ruth Ozeki, and Max Barry; confessional memoirs by David Denby (American Sucker) and John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man); and films such as Wall Street, Boiler Room, and Working Girl.  The background reading in contemporary economics will consist of selections from Marx’s Capital, Andrew Ross and Naomi Klein on labor, Hardt and Negri on empire, and Benjamin Barber and Eric Schlosser on global consumption. The course asks what authors mean when they refer to the economy, how the public's imagination of the market functions in relation to the real thing, and what it reveals about our historical assumptions and beliefs.