ENG32500 Fiction and Financial Crises

Academic Year 2023/2024

The financial market has long provided a rich source of inspiration to novelists and poets, with writers across the centuries exploring themes of stock-market crashes, gambling and risk taking, debts and bankruptcy, fraudulent currencies, bank failures and the consequences of post-crash austerity. This module will introduce students to the field of economic humanities by examining the relationship between fiction and financial crises, both real and imagined, from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century. It will analyse literary representations of various historical bubbles, crises and crashes such as the South Sea Bubble, the ‘panics’ of nineteenth-century Britain, and the crashes that dominated the 20th and 21st century: 1929 Wall Street Crash, the Celtic Tiger and the Global Financial and Eurozone Crises. The module will also explore literary responses to instances of disaster capitalism (such as post-Hurricane Katrina) and cyberpunk dystopian futures of corporate crises. It will consider how literature uses, adapts and critiques economic theories of rationality and self-interest, economic figures, and financial constructs and institutions, while also exploring the way economic systems rely on myths, stories and fantasies to function.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the conclusion of this module students should be able to demonstrate:
• A familiarity with the field of economic humanities, and literary and economic criticism
• A knowledge of the impact financial ‘booms and busts’ have had on literary writings from the eighteenth to the twenty-first
• An increased understanding of the way literature uses, adapts and critiques economic themes and theories and how economic
systems and theories also depend on literary devices
• An increased understanding of how literature can instruct readers to assess value and make judgments
• An ability to write critically about a range of texts from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century

Indicative Module Content:

Students will study short stories, novels, and spoken-word poetry from the 18th century to contemporary writing. Authors studied may include: Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Don DeLillo, Lauren Beukes, Donal Ryan, Jesmyn Ward, and Kae Tempest.

Topics may include: eighteenth-century speculative bubbles, nineteenth-century crashes, the 'Roaring Twenties', the virtual market, the Celtic Tiger, the Global Financial Crisis, disaster capitalism, post-crash austerity, cyberpunk dystopias, currencies and literary representation.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Interactive classroom-based learning.
Lecturer and student presentations.
Peer and group work.
Seminar discussions.
Close textual reading.

Please note that this information is subject to change in the event of online learning. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Currency assignment which includes a presentation and written response Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Essay Plan Varies over the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Continuous Assessment: Class participation and contribution; includes discussion questions Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: End of term essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Assigned Texts (To Buy)
- Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis (2003)
- Lauren Beukes, Moxyland (2008)
- Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011)
- Kae (Kate) Tempest, Let them eat Chaos (2016)

Please note: Links will be provided on Brightspace for Jane Austen’s Sanditon and Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, but I do recommend buying the following editions:

- Jane Austen: Penguin Classics edition of Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon with an introduction by Margaret Drabble (2010)
- Wilkie Collins: Oxford World Classics edition of The Moonstone edited by Francis O'Gorman (2019)