Mark Twain and Money: Call for contributions to a volume of new scholarly essays

full name / name of organization: 
Henry B. Wonham, University of Oregon
contact email: 

Questions about Mark Twain's fascination with wealth have played a major role in Twain criticism from the very beginning. It might be argued, in fact, that the foundational disagreement in Twain studies hinges on whether his commercial inclinations fostered his artistic achievement (Bernard DeVoto) or bastardized his talent (Van Wyck Brooks). Rather than prolong the biographical debate, this volume of original essays will draw on recent work at the intersection of economic theory and literary studies (sometimes referred to as the New Economic Criticism) to reevaluate and deepen our understanding of Mark Twain's complicated relationship with money and issues of economy, broadly understood. Topics of interest might include Twain's engagement with:

the profession of authorship
the literary marketplace
concepts of ownership
concepts of intellectual property, real property, and personhood
copyright law and theory
the nature of money and its relationship to art, literature, and representation
debates about the gold and silver standards
the meaning and significance of debt, credit, and usury
commodities and the commodity form
production and consumption
economic panic and bankruptcy
Webster & Co.
investment and speculation
gender and/or masculinity in relation to economic forces and events
capitalism and capitalists
progressive politics, socialism, and the rights of workers
gift theory
the advertising industry
branding and marketing
the role of fraud in economic transactions/the role of hoax in literary transactions
work and leisure
play (or childhood) in relation to economic structures and practices

Please send paper abstracts of 500 words and a working title to Harry Wonham by January 1, 2014. Final essays will be between 6,000-8,000 words in length and should conform to the MLA documentation style. Final papers will be due by September 1, 2014.

Henry B. Wonham
Department of English
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403