Panic!: Markets, Crises, and Crowds in American Fiction

Panic!: Markets, Crises, and Crowds in American Fiction

by David A. Zimmerman
     
 

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During the economic depression of the 1890s and the speculative frenzy of the following decade, Wall Street, high finance, and market crises assumed unprecedented visibility in the United States. Fiction writers published scores of novels in the period that explored this new cultural phenomenon. In Panic!, David A. Zimmerman studies how American novelists and

Overview

During the economic depression of the 1890s and the speculative frenzy of the following decade, Wall Street, high finance, and market crises assumed unprecedented visibility in the United States. Fiction writers published scores of novels in the period that explored this new cultural phenomenon. In Panic!, David A. Zimmerman studies how American novelists and their readers imagined--and in one case, incited--market crashes and financial panics.

Panic! examines how Americans' attitudes toward securities markets, popular investment, and financial catastrophe were entangled with their conceptions of gender, class, crowds, corporations, and history. Zimmerman investigates how writers turned to mob psychology, psychic investigations, and conspiracy discourse to understand not only how financial markets worked, but also how mass acts of financial reading, including novel reading, could trigger economic disaster and cultural chaos. In addition, Zimmerman shows how, by concentrating on markets in crisis, novelists were able to explore the limits of fiction's aesthetic, economic, and ethical capacities. With readings of canonical as well as lesser-known novelists, Zimmerman provides an original and wide-ranging analysis of the relation between fiction and financial modernity.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Provocative and thoughtful. . . . Zimmerman reveals a world of ideas that intellectual and cultural historians will find fascinating. . . . A worthy, fascinating addition to the growing scholarship that seeks to explore and explain the cultural history of capitalism.—Journal of American History

Rich in the anecdotes and details that capture the cultural context of the decades that straddled the turn of the twentieth century.—American Historical Review

Panic is filled with keen insights. . . . It importantly resuscitates stories and recasts tropes from early twentieth century America."-Literature & History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807877364
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
12/08/2006
Series:
Cultural Studies of the United States
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
312
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Zimmerman's innovative book goes far to fill a void in our understanding of the literary history of an important period in which financial collapse and panic powerfully affected the course of U.S. fiction. His work will take a deservedly prominent place in scholarship of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.—Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University

Meet the Author

David A. Zimmerman is associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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