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  • Author or Editor: Reingard Nethersole x
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The essay rehearses the often obscured entanglement of Literature and value by taking at its premise the historical emergence of the concept of literary value as tied to the realm of economics in the 18th century. A brief genealogical investigation of their confluence shows the privileged ontological status of Literature as a function of discourse implicated in classical economics’ labour theory of value that accompanies also the birth of aesthetic judgement. Once at the apex of the Humanities, where the knowledge of literary texts signified cultural achievement, ‘the worth of the value’ of Bildung (education), of capitalised Literature and of reading has diminished greatly in today’s world. Under threat by entrepreneurialism made possible by new advancing and exponentially expanding digital mnemotechnical devices that are overtaking print culture, the study of Literature, and with it the Humanities, are losing ground. Interest in questions of ‘literary value’, together with renewed reflection on the “singularity” of Literature, it is argued, are symptomatic of profound changes in cultural technology that require literary studies to rethink language as precisely a writer’s and a reader’s “capital”, and to revisit the oikonomia of language as the place of world-modelling and world-making.

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