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Fictions of finance: Economic narrative in contemporary culture

Thunder, Ailbhe. 2006. Fictions of finance: Economic narrative in contemporary culture. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Whereas the newly surveyed field of economic criticism, in literary and cultural studies, has been dominated by studies employing new historicist approaches in the analysis of past cultural or economic moments, this thesis examines the representation of economics in contemporary culture, and employs post-structuralist critical theory in its discussion of the unstable borderline between economics and culture, or text and context. Acknowledging that contemporary economic discourse regularly employs the term 'market' as a synecdoche for the economy as a whole, the thesis focuses, in particular, on representations of the financial economy in narrative texts from the late 1980s to the present. Through close readings of novels by Jane Smiley, Michael Ridpath, and Don DeLillo, as well as the film narratives Wall Street and Boiler Room, and the artwork of J. S. G. Boggs, I argue that contemporary cultural texts which represent the financial economy are always working out the borderlines between text and context, between the fictional and the real, or between the rational and the irrational. Since both narrative and financial speculation exploit the unstable border between the fictional and the real, this post-structuralist reading of the narrative representation of economics also seeks to undermine the certainties of rational economic science, which posits the possibility of referentiality in the pursuit of a finite knowledge about the world it represents, and in the stories it tells.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
ISBN: 9781303207723
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:15

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