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Michael Edward Genovese
University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY 40506-0004)
Finance and Feeling in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Summer research and writing on British Literature and Economic History.

My book manuscript argues that eighteenth-century British essayists, novelists, and poets promoted the search for profit, counterintuitively, as a means of constructing community through the simultaneous accumulation of money and shared feeling, or sympathy. In doing so, they rejected the emerging value of individualism, particularly as it referred to the pursuit of private profit and indulgence in emotional interiority. In contrast with scholars who frame the eighteenth century as a period trending forward toward modernity, I highlight its indebtedness to a past in which economic activity was still understood as an extension of emotional and public life. Throughout my book, I treat seriously the critical potential of this nostalgia to serve as a progressive critique of abuses of debt, credit, labor, and avarice that authors sought to preclude by imagining how interpersonal bonds, especially those among strangers, might be secured mutually by finance and sentiment.

Project fields:
British Literature; Economic History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 8/30/2015