Literature Profs Take Up Entrepreneurship

Apparently some literature professors are joining the fray and bringing their expertise to understanding the role of entrepreneurship in the economy and society. Interesting piece By Scott Jaschik from Inside Higher Education. Here is a snippet that is a small part of the story, but that I find very interesting:

At Illinois, Hutner recently started a course that suggests some of the ways economic analysis may expand literary studies. The course is on the entrepreneurial imagination, looking at literature about entrepreneurs. Some works may be expected — such as the Horatio Alger story or Andrew Carnegie’s autobiography. Other selections challenge the traditional representation of the business world. For example, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s What Diantha Did is an early feminist look at starting a business. And Fanny Hurst’s Imitation of Life, long read for its focus on racial “passing,” is also “very much about how to start a business,” Hutner said.

While entrepreneurs may get lauded in business schools and overlooked or criticized in English departments, Hutner said, it’s time to pay attention to economic issues in literature.

I have not taken any literature courses since high school but wonder if Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, have much to offer that would provide insight into entrepreneurship? We are talking literature here, not Ayn Rand.

2 thoughts on “Literature Profs Take Up Entrepreneurship

  1. Daniel Carins

    “it’s time to pay attention to economic issues in literature”.

    Erm – did the 1980s pass you by? We had a whole school of critical theory that examined literature through the lens of Marxism that we called “Marxist Theory”.

    Try reading anything by Terry Eagleton for a taster.

    Or, if by “economics” you just mean screwing people for profit, then just stick to Ayn Rand.

    1. Thanks for the comments, sounds like the literature community has a long history on this, though I would disagree that using marxism is the best ‘theory’ from which to review today’s economic landscape. Also, marxism does not (to the best of my recollection) have a lot to say about entrepreneurs and their drive. To default to the notion of profits is to ignore the reality. And, btw, there is much to learn from rand, but i wouldn’t call it literature and don’t think it should be taught in literature courses (I was not a lit major)

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