Annie McClanahan

Position title: UW System Fellow (2015-2016)

English, UW-Milwaukee

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The Cultural History of Microeconomics

This project begins by proposing a “microeconomic century” that begins in 1873 and continues through the present. In the wake of the “marginalist revolution” of the late-nineteenth century, economic thought shifted decisively from the generally “macroeconomic” modes of thought common to classical economics to the “microeconomic” principles of an emerging neoclassical school. The microeconomic turn marked the systematization of the field of economics and its effort to establish itself as a mathematical discipline. With that systematization came resistance to the interdisciplinarity that had once characterized political economy as a form of thought. Against economics’ own emphatic narrowing of scope, I want to think about the relationship between the microeconomic turn and twentieth-century culture and critical theory. This book thus explores the parallel destinies—and periodic collisions—of social theory, narrative form, and microeconomics in the long twentieth century.

Annie McClanahan is an Assistant Professor of English at UW Milwaukee. Her book Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and 21st Century Culture will appear from Stanford University Press in fall 2016. Her new project, “A Cultural History of Microeconomics,” will explore the ways in which microeconomics has both drawn on and shaped critical theory and cultural production. Her work has appeared in RepresentationsThe Journal of Cultural EconomyJournal of American StudiesPost45South Atlantic Quarterlysymploke, and qui parle.