ACLA 2016 - Revisiting the Archive: Finance and Contemporary Literature

full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association // Harvard // March 17-20 2016.



The global spread of neoliberal capitalism in the second half of the twentieth century instigated what David Harvey has termed the "financialization of everything." Harvey's blunt language indexes the vast reach of finance capitalism, which has altered everything from transnational trade circuits to the habitus of daily life. The 2008 crisis not only brought the interwoven nature of these high and low domains into painfully sharp focus; it also brought renewed interest in finance capitalism amongst literary critics.

Despite finance capitalism's seemingly universal presence and transversal scope, the archive to which these critics have turned has proven remarkably small. Novels by white, western male authors tend to dominate scholarly conversations, an approach that targets a narrow corner of the media landscape and struggles to reflect the material reach of finance. In fact, women, non-white populations, and countries outside the OECD have historically suffered most from such persistent financial problems as onerous debt obligations. Meanwhile recent modifications to marriage and healthcare regulations have generated uneven changes to the conditions under which queer, gay, and disabled populations may engage with financial markets.

In order to rethink the relation between literature and finance capitalism, this panel will explore the methods for and the effects of refiguring and expanding the current archive. Genre-specific inquiries will run alongside questions regarding the inclusion of texts written by or about underrepresented authors and populations. What cultural forms best engage with financial concerns? What does finance look like from the Black Atlantic, post-Soviet countries, the precarious job, or the hospital bed? More broadly, the panel will interrogate the ends of crafting a more inclusive literary genealogy of finance. It will also interrogate the aims and effects of established critical heuristics. What is the function of the literary as well as literary criticism in a financialized age? With what other fields, disciplines, and lines of inquiry must a finance-oriented literary studies engage in order to thrive?

Topics include but are not limited to:
• Finance and literary genres beyond the novel (television, poetry, drama, visual art, music, podcasts, journalism, nonfiction)
• Finance's impact on litera7ry periodization
• The cyclical temporality of finance capitalism
• Finance as a topic for and player within the culture industry
• Finance's intersection with nationality, race, gender, sexuality, class, queerness, and disability
• Finance, the nation, and the new cartographies of capital
• Finance and (neo)colonialism
• The affective life of finance
• Finance and labor
• Debt and the academy
• Finance and Ecocriticism

American Comparative Literature Association // Harvard // March 17-20 2016.

250 word abstracts must be uploaded to the ACLA website at between September 1 and 23.

Interested participants are encouraged to contact the seminar organizers Laura Finch // // or John McGlothlin III // // with any questions or possible ideas for presentations.

The CFP may also be found here: