"In Money, Language, and Thought, Marc Shell explores the interactions between linguistic and economic production as they inform discourse from Chretien de Troyes to Heidegger. Close readings of works such as the medieval grail legends, The Merchant of Venice, Goethe's Faust, and Poe's "The Gold Bug" reveal how discourse has responded to the dissociation of symbol from thing characteristic of money, and how the development of increasingly symbolic currencies has involved changes in the meaning of meaning.
Pursuing his investigations into the modern era, Shell points out significant internalization of economic form in Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger. He demonstrates how literature and philosophy have been driven to account self-critically for a "money of the mind" that pervades all discourse, and concludes the book with a discomforting thesis about the cultural and political limits of literature and philosophy in the modern world."
"America was the historical birthplace of the widespread use of paper money in the Western world, and a debate about coined and paper money dominated American political discourse from 1825 to 1875. The “paper money men” (as the advocates of paper money were called) were set against the “gold bugs” (as the advocates of gold, in opposition to paper money, were called). "
Marc Shell is the Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English. He is also a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow. His research covers a broad spectrum of places and languages ranging from ancient to post-modern times. Particular theoretical and thematic interests include: Money, Language, & Thought, Nationhood & Language Difference, Kinship Studies, Non-English Languages & Literatures of America, Disability & Medical Studies.
Professor Shell's books in the area of economics and esthetics include: Art & Money (Chicago UP 1994); Money, Language, and Thought: Literary and Philosophical Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era(California UP 1982); and The Economy of Literature (Johns Hopkins UP 1978). The Painting in the Trash Bin: Otis Kaye and the Perplexities of Art is forthcoming (Chicago UP January 2008).