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Genres of the Credit EconomyMediating Value in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain$
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Mary Poovey

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226675329

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226675213.001.0001

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Generic Differentiation and the Naturalization of Money

Generic Differentiation and the Naturalization of Money

(p.87) Chapter Two Generic Differentiation and the Naturalization of Money
Genres of the Credit Economy
Mary Poovey
University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that the general acceptance of Britain's credit economy was furthered by the two other kinds of writing with which this book is concerned. More specifically, it argues that one of the effects of the differentiation between economic and imaginative writing—along with the concomitant differentiation between fact and fiction—was to naturalize the peculiarities of the credit economy and the monetary instruments on which it depended so that ordinary people would take all this for granted. By so doing, naturalization helped manage the problematic of representation that periodically emerged into visibility. The gradual process of naturalization was made possible by two adaptations of the dichotomy that governed monetary instruments (valid/invalid): in the realm of fiction, the negative connotations associated with invalid money were neutralized by the claim that imaginative writing did not have to refer to anything in the actual world; in the realm of (economic) theory, the fictive elements intrinsic to credit instruments were neutralized by the introduction of abstractions, which could claim simultaneously to be true and not to be referential. The chapter is divided into three sections. The first two focus on the gradual breakup of the fact/fiction continuum through the interrelated processes called fictionalization and factualization, and the third focuses on the way that imaginative writing contributed to the general cultural drift that eventually made the writing on monetary instruments invisible as writing—that is, as mere artifice or representation.

Keywords:   credit economy, economic writing, imaginative writing, naturalization

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