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

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

by David A. Zimmerman



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Panic!: Markets, Crises, and Crowds in American Fiction by David A. Zimmerman

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807830239
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/29/2006
Series: Cultural Studies of the United States
Edition description: 1
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

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

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From the Publisher

Impressively informed about both American fiction and the history of American finance, Zimmerman's book provides literary insights as well as sharp cultural analysis of the resonances market panics had in U.S. mass culture, politics, and class and gender relations. Frequently surprising, always illuminating, his study moves us far beyond our familiar generalizations about literature and the market.—Randall Knoper, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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