Associate Professor. Storrs.
Specialties: Primary Field: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature. Secondary Interests: History of Economics, Economics and Religion, Disability Studies, History of the Novel, Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope, Frankenstein
My research and teaching interests are intensely historical. In particular, I study the intersection of religion and economics in the realm of eighteenth century British culture. My first book was a study of the history of usury, in which I argued that for writers of the early modern period usury encompassed a great deal more than taking interest on loans, and that in its name writers at the time of financial revolution (1690-1750) voiced concerns about financial mischief and malfeasance that still trouble us today.
The project on which I am currently at work – bearing the working title “Becoming Economic Being” – is a study of the notion that we are driven primarily by economic desires. The term that scholars use to describe such a model of the human being is “economic man” or homo œconomicus. Far from accepting the reality of this notion, I read homo œconomicus as material out which narratives of modernization are fashioned and as a kind of principle around which certain discourses of modernity are clarified and organized. Whereas scholars working in the tradition of Max Weber take the economization of the West (and its resultant disenchantment and rationalization) as preconditions for the later emergence of a richly economic modern subject, I resist the temptation to read economic man as the ineluctable byproduct of modernity. What “Becoming Economic” offers is a close reading of the narrative of modernity, in which what gets revealed is the toxic result of believing that “being economic” is the most or the only thing that we can or should aim to be. I argue that the modern subject, often doomed by such a limiting and limited sense of human value and worth, is thus divided from and against itself. This division leaves a deep sense of shame about productivity which in turn generates ever more anxious and desperate attempts to mimic the master figure.
View Dwight Codr’s Faculty Bookshelf