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Grant number like: FA-56070-11

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Matthew Erlin
Washington University (St. Louis, MO 63130-4862)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Prizes]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 5/31/2012

Necessary Luxuries: German Literature and the World of Goods, 1770-1815

"Necessary Luxuries" argues that the trajectory of literary production and consumption in Germany between 1770 and 1815 can only be adequately understood against the backdrop of an emerging consumer culture and the debates about luxury that accompanied its rise. My project demonstrates that authors of imaginative fiction were deeply concerned with their status as luxury producers, and it shows how the strategies they developed to justify their activities emerged in dialogue with more general discussions regarding the legitimacy of new forms of discretionary consumption. I address broad eighteenth-century debates about the dangers of excessive reading and the legitimacy of luxury editions as well as elucidating the degree to which concerns about luxury shape the structural and rhetorical features of specific literary works. I hope to shed light on current debates about the value of literature by returning to a moment when such questions were being posed with particular urgency.