Fiction, Famine, and the Rise of Economics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture)

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9780521035538: Fiction, Famine, and the Rise of Economics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture)
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During the Irish Famine of 1845-52, novels by Dickens and Gaskell, as well as a range of commentaries on the Irish disaster, argued for a new theory of individual expression in opposition to the systemized approach to economic life that political economy proposed. These romantic views of human subjectivity eventually provided the foundation for a new theory of capitalism based on the desires of the individual consumer.

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Before the emergence of modern economics, political economy was a worldly discipline, of interest to readers of novels, and to novelists. At the time of the Irish Famine of 1845 52, novels by Dickens and Gaskell, and a range of commentaries on the Irish disaster, argued for a new theory of individual expression in opposition to the systemized approach to economic life that political economy proposed. Gradually these romantic views of human subjectivity provided the foundation for a new theory of capitalism based on the desires of the individual consumer.

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Gordon Bigelow is Assistant Professor of English at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. His work has appeared in the journals ELH and New Orleans Review and in the volume Reclaiming Gender: Transgressive Identities in 19th-century Ireland (1999).

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