Literature Incorporated: The Cultural Unconscious of the Business Corporation, 1650-1850

University of Chicago Press
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Long before Citizens United and modern debates over corporations as people, such organizations already stood between the public and private as both vehicles for commerce and imaginative constructs based on groups of individuals. In this book, John O’Brien explores how this relationship played out in economics and literature, two fields that gained prominence in the same era.

Examining British and American essays, poems, novels, and stories from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, O’Brien pursues the idea of incorporation as a trope discernible in a wide range of texts. Key authors include John Locke, Eliza Haywood, Harriet Martineau, and Edgar Allan Poe, and each chapter is oriented around a type of corporation reflected in their works, such as insurance companies or banks. In exploring issues such as whether sentimental interest is the same as economic interest, these works bear witness to capitalism’s effect on history and human labor, desire, and memory. This period’s imaginative writing, O’Brien argues, is where the unconscious of that process left its mark. By revealing the intricate ties between literary models and economic concepts, Literature Incorporated shows us how the business corporation has shaped our understanding of our social world and ourselves.
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About the author

John O’Brien is associate professor and the NEH Daniels Family Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Harlequin Britain and the editor of Susanna Centlivre’s The Wonder.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Dec 29, 2015
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780226291260
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
History / General
Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Closely following these boys as they move through their teen years together, Keeping It Halal sheds light on their strategic efforts to manage their day-to-day cultural dilemmas as they devise novel and dynamic modes of Muslim American identity in a new and changing America.

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Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.

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Shortlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

"John O'Brien was a stunningly talented writer who created poetry from the most squalid materials."—Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City

Within the walls of a foreboding mansion situated in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, the suave Double Felix plays host to an array of beautiful women as well as his unlikely sidekick William. The mysterious patriarch grants his live-in guests’ every wish while asking nothing in return. Days begin with William and Double Felix discussing their conquests with the ladies over morning Vodka, a ritual that is nonetheless edged in homoerotic tension. From there the drinking continues, only to be interrupted by some miscellany—perhaps a rerun of The Love Boat or some casual sex.

But the ongoing torpor has been upset by the house's newest arrival, a stunning young woman named Laurie, with whom both Double Felix and William become hopelessly smitten. Trash-talking Maggie and Zipper, the hooker who flew in on a trick and never left, smolder with envy while Laurie garners more and more attention from the men.

As tensions spiral out of control, the house—an almost anthropomorphic entity in itself—ejects some of its denizens while further ensnaring others. Eventually, each faces the same ultimatum: leave or stay. The decision is fraught with consequence.

Better delves deep into the psyche of its subjects through an intricate web of cultural icons, loyalty, covert communications, and sex. John O'Brien's characters loom in and out of a surreal world that seems to float high above the rest of us, but is in fact firmly tethered to the human condition.

John O'Brien was born in 1960 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 with his then-wife Lisa. During his lifetime, he was a busboy, file clerk, and coffee roaster, but writing was his true calling. He committed suicide in April 1994 at age thirty-three. His published fiction includes Leaving Las Vegas, The Assault on Tony's, and Stripper Lessons.
A compelling portrait of a group of boys as they navigate the complexities of being both American teenagers and good Muslims

This book provides a uniquely personal look at the social worlds of a group of young male friends as they navigate the complexities of growing up Muslim in America. Drawing on three and a half years of intensive fieldwork in and around a large urban mosque, John O’Brien offers a compelling portrait of typical Muslim American teenage boys concerned with typical teenage issues—girlfriends, school, parents, being cool—yet who are also expected to be good, practicing Muslims who don’t date before marriage, who avoid vulgar popular culture, and who never miss their prayers.

Many Americans unfamiliar with Islam or Muslims see young men like these as potential ISIS recruits. But neither militant Islamism nor Islamophobia is the main concern of these boys, who are focused instead on juggling the competing cultural demands that frame their everyday lives. O’Brien illuminates how they work together to manage their “culturally contested lives” through subtle and innovative strategies—such as listening to profane hip-hop music in acceptably “Islamic” ways, professing individualism to cast their participation in communal religious obligations as more acceptably American, dating young Muslim women in ambiguous ways that intentionally complicate adjudications of Islamic permissibility, and presenting a “low-key Islam” in public in order to project a Muslim identity without drawing unwanted attention.

Closely following these boys as they move through their teen years together, Keeping It Halal sheds light on their strategic efforts to manage their day-to-day cultural dilemmas as they devise novel and dynamic modes of Muslim American identity in a new and changing America.

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