The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society

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University of Chicago Press, 2000 - 255 pages
What is the relationship between our conception of humans as producers or creators; as consumers of taste and pleasure; and as creators of value? Combining cultural history, economics, and literary criticism, Regenia Gagnier's new work traces the parallel development of economic and aesthetic theory, offering a shrewd reading of humans as workers and wanters, born of labor and desire.

The Insatiability of Human Wants begins during a key transitional moment in aesthetic and economic theory, 1871, when both disciplines underwent a turn from production to consumption models. In economics, an emphasis on the theory of value and the social relations between land, labor, and capital gave way to more individualistic models of consumerism. Similarly, in aesthetics, theories of artistic production or creativity soon bowed to models of taste, pleasure, and reception.

Using these developments as a point of departure, Gagnier deftly traces the shift in Western thought from models of production to consumption. From its exploration of early market logic and Kantian thought to its look at the aestheticization of homelessness and our own market boom, The Insatiability of Human Wants invites us to contemplate alternative interpretations of economics, aesthetics, and history itself.

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On the Insatiability of Human Wants Economic and Aesthetic Man
Is Market Society the Fin of History? Market Utopias and Dystopias from Babbage to Schreiner
Modernity and Progress toward Individualism in Economics and Aesthetics
Production Reproduction and Pleasure in Victorian Aesthetics
Practical Aesthetics Rolfe Wilde and New Women at the Fin de Siecle
Practical Aesthetics II On Heroes HeroWorship and the Heroic in the 1980s
Practical Aesthetics III Homelessness as an Aesthetic Issue
Taste or Sex and Class as Culture

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About the author (2000)

Regenia Gagnier is a Professor of English at the University of Exeter. She is the author of Idylls of the Marketplace: Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Public and Subjectivities: A History of Self-Representation in Britain, 1832-1920.

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