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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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Insurance and the Problem of Sentimental Representation

Insurance and the Problem of Sentimental Representation

(p.106) Chapter Three Insurance and the Problem of Sentimental Representation
Literature Incorporated

John O’brien

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 explores what François Ewald has called the “insurantial imaginary,” the ways in which the technology of insurance shaped imaginative writing in the eighteenth century. Though the examples here are primarily from fiction, the chapter also looks at serial fictions that were published in the newspapers that were issued by London insurance companies, serials that thematize the issues of risk and the aleatory that insurance technology was designed to mitigate. The chapter also discusses the mid-century novels of Tobias Smollett as theorizing the comparative riskiness of people and things, a comparison that was becoming particularly urgent as the slave trade made the distinction between the human person and an article of property a matter that insurance law had to determine.

Keywords:   insurance, sentimentality, fiction, seriality, Tobias Smollett, Daniel Defoe

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