SRP 435: Literature, Philosophy, and Economics
Fidel Fajardo-Acosta & Patrick Murray
Anderson, Elizabeth, Value in Ethics and Economics. This is a philosopher's look at the shortcomings of the market and of the conception of rationality found in contemporary microeconomic theory. Includes chapters entitled "The Ethical Limitations of the Market,"and "Is Women's Labor a Commodity?"
Adorno, Theodor and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment
Bataille, Georges, The Accursed Share, Theory of Religion
Baudrillard, Jean, Selected Writings
Cervantes, Miguel de, Don Quixote de la Mancha
Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard
Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness, short novel (white ivory traders in Africa, exploitation of natives)
Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
Dickens, Charles, Hard Times
Douglass, Frederick, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
Dreiser, Theodore, The Financier, novel (any other of his works also recommended, e.g. Sister Carrie, An American Tragedy, etc.)
Ellison, Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, novel (together with the Grapes of Wrath this is probably one of the best American novels of all time). Also suggested is his short story, "King of the Bingo Game."
Engels, Frederick, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State
Fajardo-Acosta, Fidel, "Art, Economics, Religion, and Society: A Vision of Redemption in Gabriel García Márquez's 'La Tarde Prodigiosa de Baltazar,'" Hispanic Journal 17 (1996): 31-45.
Ferguson, Thomas, Golden Rule. An American political scientist looks at the power of money in politics and political parties.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby, novel (1920's decadence, love, contradictions and problems of the American dream)
Fromm, Erich, many excellent books like The Art of Loving, Escape from Freedom, Marx's Concept of Man, The Sane Society, To Have or to Be?, On Being Human
Galbraith, John Kenneth, The Affluent Society
Garcia-Marquez, Gabriel, "Balthazar's Marvelous Afternoon"
Gould, Carol, Rethinking Democracy: Freedom and Social Cooperation in Politics, Economy, and Society. An American philosopher works out a comprehensive account of human freedom, human rights, and democracy. Along the way she concludes that wage labor is inherently a violation of human dignity: our labor power is not the sort of thing that we can rightly alienate for a wage.
Greider, William, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. A political commentator for Rolling Stone magazine takes a critical look at global capitalism. His other books include: Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country and Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy.
Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. One of the world's leading urban geographers and social theorists examines the relationships between the new capitalist order of "flexible accumulation" and the new cultural order of postmodernism. See also his earlier book The Urban Experience.
Hochschild, Arlie, Second Shift
Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World
Kavanaugh, S.J., John F., Still Following Christ in a Consumer Society. This is a criticism of life under the "commodity form," a critique of consumer society from the standpoint of a radical Catholic Christianity, written by a Jesuit philosopher at St. Louis University.
Kellner, Douglas, Television and the Crisis of Democracy. This is a critical social history of the rise of network television, and a look into its consequences for American democracy.
Lawrence, D.H., Women in Love (also recommended are his short stories, e.g. "The Rocking Horse Winner"). Lawrence had a very fine sense for the ways in which money and property corrupt human relationships and prevent the flourishing of love
Leiss, William, The Limits to Satisfaction: An Essay on the Problem of Needs and Commodities (This short, packed book investigates why high intensity market settings seem to produce as little satisfaction as they do and why they are so threatening to the environment and the supplies of natural resources.)
Lewis, Sinclair, Babbitt, novel (satire of middle class entrepreneur/businessman)
Linder, Staffan, The Harried Leisure Class. An early investigation of the time crunch in high intensity market societies by a welfare economist.
Lowell, Robert, "For the Union Dead"
MacPherson, C.B., Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval. This is a collection of essays by the dean of radical Canadian political theorists.
Marcuse, Herbert, One Dimensional Man: Studies in Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (also recommended, Eros and Civilization)
Marquez, (see Garcia)
Marx, Karl, Capital
McCarthy, George E. and Royal W. Rhodes, Eclipse of Justice: Ethics, Economics, and the Lost Traditions of American Catholicism. This is a critique from the left of the American Catholic bishops pastoral letter on the economy, Economic Justice for All, by a philosopher/anthropologist and a Protestant theologian. See Chapter 4, "Toward a Critical Theory of Political Economy," which has a wealth of revealing statistics regarding American capitalism.
Mill, John Stuart, Principles of Political Economy
Miller, Arthur, Death of a Salesman
More, Thomas, Utopia
Murray, Patrick, ed., Reflections on Commercial Life: An Anthology of Classic Texts from Plato to the Present (Routledge, 1997)
Offe, Claus, Contradictions of the Welfare State. A leading German political theorist studies the problems faced by social democracy and the modern welfare state. See also his Disorganized Capitalism: Contemporary Transformations of Work and Politics.
Phillips, Kevin, The Politics of Rich and Poor. A conservative political commentator amasses statistics to show what a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich took place during the Reagan years.
Polanyi, Karl, The Great Transformation. The classic study of the emergence of capitalist society by the noted economic historian.
Postman, Neil, Amusing Ourselves to Death (on the culture of electronic media) This book belongs to the school of thought associated with Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong that emphasizes the importance of different types of media. In particular, Postman explores the different consequences of print vs. electronic media (radio, television,.)
Pound, Ezra, Cantos (also works such as the ABC of Economics, Social Credit, What is Money for?)
Reich, Robert, The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism. A Harvard economist, Reich published this take-off on Adam Smith shortly before Bill Clinton named him Secretary of Labor.
Rubin, Lillian Breslow, Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working-Class Family. This is a poignant portrait of different aspects of working class marriage and family. It is a classic of qualitative sociology.
Schor, Juliet, The Overworked American
Schweickart, David, Against Capitalism. This is a well articulated, thorough-going critique of capitalism and defense of a version of "market socialism" (worked out in some detail) by a philosopher from Loyola University.
Shakespeare, William, The Merchant of Venice, play, 5-act comedy dealing with issues of money-lending; fascinating for the ways in which Christian European culture hypocritically projects and displaces its own predatory greed on to the artificially constructed figure of the "Jew"
Shaw, George Bernard, Major Barbara, play (any of Shaw's other plays and works are also recommended)
Sinclair, Upton, The Jungle, novel (a very revealing look into the condition of immigrant workers in the Chicago stockyards at the turn of the 19th-20th century)
Starr, Paul, The Social Transformation of American Medicine. This is a powerful, engagingly written social history of the American medical profession, by a young sociologist.
Steinbeck, John, The Grapes of Wrath
Taylor, Peter, "The Old Forest," in The Old Forest and Other Stories. Taylor's long short story gives us a window on "working" women in the Memphis of the Thirties.
Uo, Uke Iwago, "Geriguigatugo"
Updike, John Updike, "A&P" (also his novels, Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest)
Veblen, Thorstein, The Theory of the Leisure Class
Vonnegut, Kurt, "Harrison Bergeron," short story in the collection Welcome to the Monkey House--nightmare visions of future society resulting from a quest for equality gone awry
Wallulis, Jerald, The New Insecurity: The End of the Standard Job and Family. The struggle for various foms of economic security has been one of the key planks of the reforms pushed by organized labor. This is an up-to-date study of personal and social consequences of changes in the forms of employment.
Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Weil, Simone, Oppression and Liberty
Zola, Emile, Germinal, novel (examines the lives of 19th century French miners)
Last updated: 06/08/2009