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Dead PledgesDebt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture$
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Annie McClanahan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799058

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799058.001.0001

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Credit, Characterization, Personification

Credit, Characterization, Personification

(p.55) 2 Credit, Characterization, Personification
Dead Pledges

Annie McClanahan

Stanford University Press

Chapter 2 addresses the relationship between debt and personhood. Practices for evaluating economic credibility in the late eighteenth century relied on subjective, qualitative, narrative forms of evaluation and thus depended on a realist model of literary character. By the early twenty-first century, however, credit scoring had become objective, quantitative, and data driven. Yet contemporary creditors still import the fictions of personhood stripped from human subjects into the scores themselves. To understand the perduring presence of the person, this chapter considers both characterization and personification. Gary Shytengart’s 2010 novel Super Sad True Love Story attests to the persistence of racial discrimination in “objective” credit scoring, while conceptual art by Cassie Thornton, Occupy Wall Street debtor-portraits, and poetry by Mathew Timmons and Timothy Donnelley register debt as a material and historical force.

Keywords:   characterization, personification, conceptual poetry, conceptual art, portraiture, personhood, debt theory, realist novel, credit scoring

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