Genres of the Future: Post-Crisis Finance Fiction and Debt Discourse
Lawrence, Michael Joseph
Since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, Recent scholarship has sought to explore the limits posed by financialization to the demystifying impulses of, broadly speaking, realist narratives. My own thesis contributes to this work by considering the affordances of more specific generic structures as employed by novelists and other writers seeking to meditate on the historicity of the Financial Crisis.Within an American Dream tale that serves as a post-national allegory, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue dramatizes cyclic shifts at the level of individual and national experience and the exhaustion of certain narrative modes in explaining and bridging these shifts. Meanwhile, in Kim Stanley Robinson's utopian novel New York 2140, financial and ecological crises alike provide openings for imagining social life beyond capitalism - a possibility that financialization claims to have foreclosed. The abstraction of Robinson's socialist, realist vision necessitates a more heterodox approach to narrative and a turn to nonhuman subjects as agents opposed to the extractive processes of financialization.I conclude by arguing that the incipient movement that Robinson imagines is best identified in the everyday speech of the indebted, those who experience "crisis ordinariness." In order to theorize the rhetorical agency of the crisis subject, I consider the edited collection The Trouble is the Banks: Letters to Wall Street. In these letters - written by the indebted and addressed to major financial institutions - I show how the indebted adopt discourses of behavioralism and expertise to expose their limitations and, in the process, provide access to the unconscious of an incipient collective of the indebted.
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