Visible Prices: Archiving the Intersection Between Literature and Economics
Visible Prices: Archiving the Intersection of Literature and Economics Paige Morgan The Permissive Archive Conference Centre for Editing Lives and Letters 9 November 2012
What is a price?A statement of value, usually expressed innumeric termsA statement of the cost of an interactionbetween two or more individuals
What is a price when found in adocument? A number A point of intertextuality between the document and the external world An item of information whose rate of recognition decays quickly An accurate or an inaccurate fact
How are prices in literature meant to be read and understood? What needs to be done to make them legible?
Visible Prices contains data from: Literary texts, i.e. novels, poetry, plays Private unpublished personal narratives, i.e. journals, letters, and commonplace books Printed pamphlets and tracts Accounting ledgers, receipt books, and private reports Newspapers, magazines, and trade journals Advertisements
Richardson’s Pamela(by the prices) 4 guineas: Amount given to Pamela by Mr. B as wage after his mother, Lady Bs death 5 guineas: Amount given by Mr. B to Mrs. Jervis as annual bonus on her salary as housekeeper 4 guineas: Amount which Mrs. Jervis says Pamela has earned by flowering a waistcoat for Mr.B. 50 pounds: The annual income given to Pamelas parents by Mr. B for caretaking his Kentishestate 5o pounds: The salary for a chaplaincy in Lincolnshire 20 guineas: The amount given by Mr. B to Pamela’s parents to buy themselves new clothesappropriate for celebrating Pamela’s marriage 200 pounds: Income paid annually to Pamela as Mr. B’s wife 500 pounds: Amount raised by Sally Godfrey from friends to fund her flight from England toJamaica 1000 pounds: the amount that Mr. B says he would give his sister if she would acknowledgePamela (possibly rhetorical rather than actual) 5 guineas: Amount given by Mr. B to the crew of a ship carrying Sally Godfrey and two femalecompanions, as inducement "to be good to the ladies."
5 guineas would also buy... A small paper edition of the Complete Works of Robert BoyleTwo years’ tuition at a boy’s school in Yorkshire on the track for universitystudy or business; and one year’s tuition on the track for an army or navycareerOne man’s large-sized suit in London, plus approximately twenty-five days ofdining out on meat and wine in London; or twelve days of dining out inLondon with twelve viewings of an automata show featuring Merlin themagicianOne year’s maintenance for a child at the Foundling Hospital, plus six dosesof a patent medicine guaranteed to cure deafness
What happens when we read for prices? Contextual clarity ... and risk of authorial credibility?• “...mid-[19th]-century novelists subjected economic matters ... the monetary value of gold -- to the alchemy of a moral lesson by emphasizing the connotative capacity of language -- that is, the elevation of figuration and suggestion over denotation and reference.” --Mary Poovey, Genres of the Credit Economy, p. 383• How widespread is the cavalier attitude that Poovey describes?
What happens when we read for prices? A network of intentional collisions and archival noise:• “While libraries that contain more than one million items are not unusual, print libraries never possessed a million books of use to any one reader.” --Gregory Crane, “What Do You Do With A Million Books?”• When you turn up the volume loud enough on a stereo speaker, sound becomes visible.
What happens when we build anarchive for prices? How do you record economic tension? Informal declarations of price value Different language used by men and women to discuss price Is the combination of text fragments an anthology, or a single text, or both? Is such an archive better suited as a starting point or an ending point?
Thank you http://www.paigemorgan.net/visibleprices/@paigecmorgan // firstname.lastname@example.org