English Language & Literature

From Political Economy to Economics through Nineteenth-Century Literature: Reclaiming the Social

co-edited with Audrey Jaffe and Sarah Winter
Palgrave, 2019 


In this edited volume, Elaine Hadley and her co-editors make a case for connecting literary analysis and economic theory in an effort to “restore social content to economic abstractions.” The collected chapters read a key concept in economics, such as “human capital,” or a pressing social issue, such as “exploitation,” through the lens of a classic 19th century novel. Pieces such as Hadley’s own chapter, “Becker the Obscure: Human Capital Theory, Liberalisms, and the Future of Higher Education” – which, as the title suggests, reads economist Gary Becker through Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure – feel even more timely now as we witness unemployment rise rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This volume highlights some of the themes in Hadley’s monograph-in-progress, The Dismal Science of Economics and the Lost Art of Political Economy.


Hear more from Elaine Hadley on the Franke Institute Podcast.

"From Political Economy to Economics Through Nineteenth-Century Literature encourages readers to rediscover social concerns that mainstream economists often overlook—within both economic concepts and literary texts.  Tough-minded and perceptive, the essays open new ways to connect literary analysis and economic theory.  An important contribution to the humanities and social sciences.”
 Mary Poovey,
Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities, Professor of English, New York University

Elaine Hadley is a Professor in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. She teaches and writes about nineteenth-century British culture, as well as popular culture broadly defined (theater, journalism, cheap fiction) and political culture, especially liberalism as a social formation. She is the author of Living Liberalism, which addresses Victorian political culture through political theory, theories of embodiment and the material practices of citizenship. Her research interests--gender theory, urban studies, the novel, melodrama, children's culture, theories of nationalism and histories of affect--are often evident in the courses she teaches.