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Dead Pledges

  • Couverture cartonnée
  • 248 Nombre de pages
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"Dead Pledges stands out among recent criticism for its cogent description of the culture produced by our deregulated, financializ... Lire la suite
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"Dead Pledges stands out among recent criticism for its cogent description of the culture produced by our deregulated, financialized economy, which has spawned various species of hyper-usury whereby consumer credit risk and national credit ratings have themselves become tradeable objects...We need more books like this one."

Annie McClanahan is Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine.


Dead Pledges is the first book to explore the ways that U.S. culturefrom novels and poems to photojournalism and horror movieshas responded to the collapse of the financialized consumer credit economy in 2008. Connecting debt theory to questions of cultural form, this book argues that artists, filmmakers, and writers have re-imagined what it means to owe and to own in a period when debt is what makes our economic lives possible. Encompassing both popular entertainment and avant-garde art, the post-crisis productions examined here help to map the landscape of contemporary debt: from foreclosure to credit scoring, student debt to securitized risk, microeconomic theory to anti-eviction activism. A searing critique of the ideology of debt, Dead Pledges dismantles the discourse of moral obligation so often invoked to make us repay. Debt is no longer a source of economic credibility, it contends, but a system of dispossession that threatens the basic fabric of social life.

Contents and Abstracts
1Behavioral Economics and the Credit-Crisis Novel
chapter abstract

Chapter 1 analyzes novelistic representations of the 2008 credit crisis. Focusing on Jonathan Dee's The Privileges, Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic, and Martha McPhee's Dear Money, it reads the post-crisis novel's interest in individual psychology alongside and against the rise of behavioral economics. Behavioral economists understand the financial crisis as a consequence of individual choices and cultural climates: from excessive optimism and irrational exuberance to greed and overweening self-interest. At once mirroring and refuting these explanations, the post-credit-crisis novel reveals a deep ambivalence about the model of psychological complexity that undergirds both novelistic character and behavioralist economics. Exploring these problems through experiments with narrative perspective, these post-crisis novels suggest that the rich, full, autonomous homines economici of both the realist novel and microeconomic theory are bankrupt.

2Credit, Characterization, Personification
chapter abstract

Chapter 2 addresses the relationship between debt and personhood. Practices for evaluating economic credibility in the late eighteenth century relied on subjective, qualitative, narrative forms of evaluation and thus depended on a realist model of literary character. By the early twenty-first century, however, credit scoring had become objective, quantitative, and data driven. Yet contemporary creditors still import the fictions of personhood stripped from human subjects into the scores themselves. To understand the perduring presence of the person, this chapter considers both characterization and personification. Gary Shytengart's 2010 novel Super Sad True Love Story attests to the persistence of racial discrimination in "objective" credit scoring, while conceptual art by Cassie Thornton, Occupy Wall Street debtor-portraits, and poetry by Mathew Timmons and Timothy Donnelley register debt as a material and historical force.

3Photography and Foreclosure
chapter abstract

Chapter 3 brings together a wide range of photographsphotojournalism, art photography, and satellite imagesthat document the economic crisis with images of abandoned homes. These photographs reveal the effects of the boom and bust of the mortgage market on our view of the home. They also raise questions about the politics of representation, especially when the photographer's ability to enter the home depends on the power of the police to process an eviction. Photographs of empty houses, it suggests, draw on the aesthetics of what Freud termed the Unheimlichunhomely, uncannyto register the uncanny power of property. Turning from photographs of single houses to images of abandoned industrial landscapes and empty housing developments, this chapter argues that such images foreshadow a financial crisis to come.

4Houses of Horror
chapter abstract

Chapter 4 begins by noting that contemporary discourse on the economic crisis is profoundly shaped by the language of horror and fear. To understand why, this chapter turns to four post-crisis horror films that explicitly link fear, foreclosure, and financialized credit: Drag Me to Hell (dir. Sam Raimi), Dream Home (dir. Pang Ho-cheung), Mother's Day (dir. Darren Lynn Bousman), and Crawlspace (dir. Josh Stolberg). All four films take up real estate lending, mortgage speculation, and foreclosure risk and locate horror in the "dead pledge" of the mortgage. Using horror and the home-invasion genre to explore the shifting understandings of ownership consequent to the housing crisis, these films frighteningly literalize the doctrine of caveat emptor. Exploring the relationship between "paying back" and "payback," they suggest that introduction of speculative risk has shifted the social force of credit contracts from the promise of trust to the threat of revenge.

Coda: The Living Indebted (on Students and Sabotage)
chapter abstract

The Coda to Dead Pledges explores an emerging anti-debt politics, arguing that "debt strikes" and the occupation or sabotage of domestic space are forms of protest that attempt to block capital at the point of circulation. Exploring the economics of student debt and taking up the treatment of education debt as an "investment in the future," this chapter suggests that the politics of student debt illuminate the relationship between workers and students and between the university and capitalism. It concludes by exploring the emergence of what it terms "crisis subjectivity": a demystified condition of radical percipience and canny knowing.

Informations sur le produit

Titre: Dead Pledges
Sous-titre: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture
Code EAN: 9781503606586
ISBN: 978-1-5036-0658-6
Format: Couverture cartonnée
Editeur: Ingram Publishers Services
Genre: Economie publique
nombre de pages: 248
Année: 2018


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