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Mediating Value

Mediating Value

(p.57) Chapter One Mediating Value
Genres of the Credit Economy
Mary Poovey
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the naturalization of money by examining two features of late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century monetary writing, the first of which is an effect of the historiography through which this writing was made available to a later reading public. The first section shows how many of the late seventeenth- and the eighteenth-century pamphlets that addressed monetary issues were packaged a century later into two volumes that implicitly celebrated Great Britain's rise to the international dominance it had attained by 1850. A second feature of monetary writing in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is even more consequential for the narrative developed in this book. The campaign to distinguish between valid monetary forms and their invalid counterparts, a campaign conducted partly through the pamphlets examined in the first section, intersected in complex ways with another eighteenth-century development: the gradual breakup of a continuum that once linked (what we call) fact to (what we call) fiction. The second section argues that the breakup of the fact/fiction continuum was modeled on the distinction between valid and invalid monetary tokens; this distinction, in turn, was the necessary precondition for making representative money seem to be, rather than simply to represent, value.

Keywords:   naturalization, money, monetary writing, pamphlets, fact/fiction continuum, monetary tokens

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