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Literature IncorporatedThe Cultural Unconscious of the Business Corporation, 1650-1850$
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John O'Brien

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226291123

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226291260.001.0001

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The Corporation as Metaphor

(p.1) Introduction
Literature Incorporated

John O’brien

University of Chicago Press

This introductory chapter describes how the book will treat the business corporation as a figure of speech, more specifically as an example of catachresis or an abuse of language, since the business corporation does not actually have a body. As a concept, the corporation can be understood as the kind of abstraction that Karl Marx described in the Grundrisse, a concept that enables thought but that also obscures a complex web of historically-specific social relationships. This introduction argues for the importance of historical criticism as a way of unpacking the unconscious of the modern economic system. And it also argues for the use of literary texts as sites where that unconscious becomes intelligible.

Keywords:   metaphor, literature, economics, law, incorporation, sentiment, Karl Marx, new economic criticism

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