American Literature and the Free Market

The years after World War Two have seen a widespread fascination with the free market. In this book, Michael W. Clune considers this fascination in postwar literature. In the fictional worlds created by works ranging from Frank O'Hara's poetry to nineties gangster rap, the market is transformed, offering an alternative form of life, distinct from both the social visions of the left and the individualist ethos of the right. These ideas also provide an unsettling example of how art takes on social power by offering an escape from society. 

Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press

“Stunning…Clune makes a powerful case for downplaying—whether strategically or as a matter of principle—our by-now reflexive assertion of the social as the inevitable horizon of aesthetic works.” Andrew Hoberek, Contemporary Literature

Clune’s argument is original and insightful, and is different from the thinking on both the Left and the Right.” Daniel Grausam, American Literature

“His thesis is as bold as it is compelling, and Clune sweeps aside everything from the labor theory of value to neoclassical economic theory in building a case for literature's role in eliciting our free market fascination.” Justin St. Clair, Modern Fiction Studies 

“Stunningly original…anyone with an interest in rap will find chapter 5 indispensable.” Judie Newman, Journal of American Studies

“Michael W. Clune’s fascinating book attempts to cut the knot into which critics have folded themselves over recent decades about what literature is and why it matters… The surprising pairings that Clune makes throughout his study demonstrate the robust possibilities of his interdisciplinary reach.” Rekha Rosha, Twentieth Century Literature