In the midst of the “shocked disbelief” exclaimed by Alan Greenspan at the global financial turmoil of 2008-09, it is easily overlooked that crisis has been an expected and regular feature of life in western capitalism at least since the Victorian period. During that period, in particular, wide-spread concern about complex financial instruments and “fictitious capital” engaged the Victorian public in a number of ways. Briefly highlighting financial history, this seminar will gauge the prevailing discourse about finance by examining selections from primary sources ranging from journalism to Parliamentary proceedings to political cartoons. Participants will then consider the unique resources of Victorian novels in general, and Charles Dickens’s /Great Expectations/ in particular, for thinking critically about finance and fiction.
Seminar led by Anna Kornbluh, University of Illinois at Chicago