The Geography of Wealth: Proposed Special Session for the 2017 Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Jan. 5-8, 2017, Philadelphia, PA.

Deirdre Mikolajcik's picture
Call for Papers
March 1, 2016
Kentucky, United States
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Economic History / Studies, Literature

This year marks two hundred years since the British government (re)introduced the gold sovereign as part of an attempt to stabilize currency following the Napoleonic Wars. One hundred years later, during World War I, the coin was abolished and in 1931 the gold standard was ultimately abandoned—like the reintroduction of the gold sovereign, both decisions were attempts to stabilize value amid economic crisis. All three crises were moments when the international economic context influenced monetary policy. Commenting from a largely domestic context on these crises and the reverberations they produced, British political economists, writers, and public intellectuals figured their economic and literary pursuits in an international framework, recognizing that Britain’s commercial dominance was subject to historical and geopolitical forces. In the past thirty (or so) years, with the rise of the new economic criticism, scholars have considered the ways these writers were engaged with the expansion of global markets; the advent of limited liability; and the “rise” of economics as a specialized discipline, arguing for the way these economic developments affected every level of society and every kind of cultural production. This panel aims to further develop this conversation by exploring the various ways nineteenth through mid-twentieth century British literature represents the movement (or stasis) of wealth and property, and the relationships between value, portability, land, and representation in literature.                                                                                                   

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • Landed property and metropolitan forms of accumulation (the country estate and its tenants) versus finance capital and global trade, or the falseness of this binary
  • Ways scholars continue to consider and conceptualize the geography of wealth in Britain and its empire
  • Factors that constrain the movement of wealth and the factors that enable it
  • Representation and circulation of different kinds of currency
  • Transmission of value at home and abroad
  • Commodity culture and the value of ‘things’

Please send 350-500 word abstracts to Deirdre Mikolajcik at by March 1, 2016. Please note that this CFP is a session proposal for the MLA. Proposal acceptance is not a guarantee of acceptance to the convention. See the MLA web site for more details.

Contact Info: 

Deirdre Mikolajcik, University of Kentucky