Creating Realities

Business as a Motif in American Fiction, 1865–1929

Business is woven into the very fabric of American life, yet rarely surfaces in the nation's literary history. Even in novels about business, it proves an elusive motif that fails to mirror actual business organizations.

This book argues that literary representations of business remain ineffable because business serves potential aesthetic functions, subtly yet meaningfully impacting readers. Exploring the complex representation of business in realist, naturalist and modernist works, Erhan Simsek reveals these functions by analyzing how the motif intertwines with social developments, literary movements and author biographies. He thus illuminates the motif itself while highlighting the utility of a focus on the changing functions of literature.

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21. März 2019, 256 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-8376-4799-0

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Erhan Simsek

Erhan Simsek, Universität Bielefeld, Deutschland

1. Why did you choose this topic?

Business is a significant component of American culture. An analysis of its representation in American literature is a useful tool in understanding the American mind. Moreover, a motif-based approach helps us elaborate on broader questions such as ›What is literature?‹ I think I gave an intriguing answer in the book.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

First, there are not many scholarly books on the topic. »Creating Realities« offers a book-length analysis of the business motif in the first place. Second, it reveals how American literature evolved after the Civil War through a careful analysis of the social and mental changes in the period. Third, my book offers an innovative way of approaching literature at large – literature as a collection of aesthetic tools with various pragmatic functions.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

Over the last few decades, scholars have looked at American literature primarily from the perspective of identity and ideology. My study offers a contrasting vision, which is based on aesthetics. I argue that neither the business motif nor the literature of the period was free from aesthetic concerns. In fact, what literature was potentially capable of ›doing‹ to readers played a major role in the construction of literary works, as my study of the motif of business in the post-Civil War period reveals.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

Steve Jobs. He knew how to create realities through his business. His technological creations offer virtual worlds which help people redefine themselves. Interestingly, fiction – and specific literary motifs such as business – served a similar function between the Civil War and the Great Depression. However, this discussion is no longer possible because he passed away in 2011.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

The motif of business is a versatile tool in American literature, serving various aesthetic and pragmatic functions.

Besprochen in:
Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 259/1 (2022), Kurt Müller
Erhan Simsek
Creating Realities Business as a Motif in American Fiction, 1865–1929
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung
LIT004020 LIT000000 HIS036000
21. März 2019
Wirtschaft, Literatur, Amerika
American Studies, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Philosophy, History
Business, America, Literature, Businessmen, Aesthetics, Economy, American Studies, General Literature Studies, American History, Social History, Literary Studies

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