"Financial Crises in Literature" - Special Topics in Business Institutions
- Nathan David Leahy
- Parkes Hall 215 - MoWe 3:30PM - 4:50PM
Overview of classAs recent headlines have made clear, financial crises are continually recurring and devastating phenomena in American history. Less clear, even to economists, is how they happen, how they may be prevented, why institutions and individuals respond to them the way they do, and what financial crises may suggest about prevailing social, economic, and cultural values. This course looks at representations of actual and imagined financial panics in 19th and 20th century American literature, and it addresses the ways in which fiction is utilized explain to wide non-specialist audiences how complicated economic transactions, and explore the possible ways in which they can go terribly wrong. We will study how representations of financial crises in these narratives also provide incisive critiques of entrenched American institutions and myths such as the "American Dream," the free-enterprise ethos, self-reliance, the social ladder, Manifest Destiny, and a non-imperial foreign policy.
Evaluation MethodMETHOD OF EVALUATION: essays, one oral presentation, active participation in discussion, weekly blackboard postings of approximately 300 words
NUMBER OF WRITING ASSIGNMENTS AND THEIR LENGTHS: two short essays of 5-7 pages; one longer essay (8-10 pages); nine blackboard postings
Class Materials (Required)READING LIST: We will read through a selection of American novels, short stories, poems, a short play, and a film or two, that feature finance and especially financial crises (historical or imagined) dating from the late 19th century through the current global economic malaise. Novels will be: Frank Norris, The Pit; John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer; Theodore Dreiser, The Financier; Upton Sinclair, The Moneychangers; Don Delillo, Cosmopolis; Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story. A course packet containing shorter readings will also be required. These shorter readings will include: "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Tale of Wall Street" by Herman Melville; the short play Panic by Archibald MacLeish; a handful of poems by Walt Whitman, Kenneth Fearing, and Muriel Rukeyser; and a series of short and incisive excerpts from cultural and economic histories (Galbraith, Marx, Simmel, Veblen, Keynes, Jameson) that will provide context and insight into the fiction we're reading. It looks like a lot but the reading load will be manageable. No background in economics or American literature required. Finally, there will be a film (fun!) or two on the syllabus drawn from the following: A Corner in Wheat (very short), It's A Wonderful Life, Wall Street, Margin Call, Too Big To Fail, an episode of 30 Rock.
Frank Norris, The Pit, 0140187588
Theodore Dreiser, The Financier, 014310554X
Upton Sinclair, The Moneychangers, 0486469174
John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer, 0618381864
Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis, 0743244257
Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story, 0812977866
The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth by Benjamin M. Friedman, 1400095719
Enrollment RequirementsEnrollment Requirements: Reserved for Juniors & Seniors
Current as of 06/04/14 08:16:26 AM