E 314J • Literature and Business
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Literature registers cultural phenomena, and what could be more culturally ingrained than the business by which we all sustain our livelihood? That is to say, we shouldn't be surprised that literature is often about business. Thus, this course will investigate novels, plays, and poems that prominently feature business, businesspeople, and commerce (or interactions in the marketplace). It will appeal to business and economics students interested in alternative perspective on their discipline(s) or in cultural representation of their discipline(s), as well as to other students curious about the interdisciplinary exchange between English and business.
We will ask what role the market plays in the formation of narrative and thematics, what influence the language of commerce has in our conceptions of character(s), how the forces of business (help) determine the behavior of characters, and how characters might imagine resisting the attraction of the market. Further, we will consider what other kinds of exchange this literature suggests might be modeled on the commerce of finance capitalism. And we will seek to answer the question of why business seems to be so influential in this literature. But also, we will question whether causality can run the other way: (how) can literature affect the market?
Students will write three 5-7-page papers, two of which will have graded first and second submissions. Additionally, eight 300-word response papers will serve as springboards for class discussion and will be graded exclusively on the basis of content and effort. The breakdown is as follows:
Paper 1,1 10%
Paper 2,1 15%
Papers 1,2 & 2,2 20% each
Paper 3 20%
Response papers 15%
Potential readings for this course include the following:
Theodore Dreiser, The Financier
Herman Melville, "Bartleby"
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
Frank Norris, The Pit
Christina Rossetti, "Goblin Market"
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
Henry David Thoreau, "Economy," from Walden
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth