A conversation with Dr. Jennifer MacLure, Assistant Professor of English at Kent State University, on the occasion of the publication of her book, The Feeling of Letting Die: Necroeconomics and Victorian Fiction (Ohio State University Press, 2023). (Our conversation is also occasioned by our Library’s Classics Book Discussion current tackling of Bleak House, Charles Dickens’ massive 1853 masterpiece!)
The Feeling of Letting Die looks at how the Victorian novel addresses a knotty problem at the heart of England’s rapidly industrializing society—how does a system that creates so much wealth also intentionally let certain people die in the service of the free market? Dr. MacLure explores the underpinnings of this “necroeconomic” system by looking at how fiction by Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and William Morris can be seen as a “literary laboratory,” as experiments in how the feelings that support and thwart this economic system circulate.
It’s both a delightful conversation and about the origins of some of our most pressing issues today—epidemics, workers rights, gender, racism, poverty, charity—and it all builds to an affirmation of the study of literature as an “epistemological tool” for understanding our world today. As Dr. MacLure puts it, the histories of political economy and literature are more intertwined—and weirder—than normally assumed. Whether you are already a fan or not of Victorian literature, this podcast offers an opportunity for thinking anew.
You can check out The Feeling of Letting Die: Necroeconomics and Victorian Fiction here at the library in our podcast collection.
We hope you enjoy our 61st interview episode! Each month (or so), we release an episode featuring a conversation with an author, artist, or other notable guests from Chicagoland or around the world. Learn more about the podcast (and our seven years of archives) on our podcast page. You can listen to all of our episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send to email@example.com.
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