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Danish Center for Welfare Studies

Literature, Economics, and a Turn to Content

Authors: Patrick Fessenbecker and Bryan Yazell
Published: The Minnesota Review, 2021, 96

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.

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