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Christian Klöckner: "Financialization and Nostalgia in US Culture"

In my Habilitation research project, I will explore the nexus between an expanding credit culture changing with increasing speed since the nineteenth century and attendant phenomena of nostalgia, both of which involve complex issues of temporality, aesthetics, materiality, and affect. Rampant since the financial and debt crises since 2007, jeremiads about declining economic mores, unfettered commodity fetishism, and increasingly predatory credit practices have indeed accompanied every innovation in American credit culture ever since Massachusetts successfully issued its first paper money in 1690. Informed by economic criticism and the study of material culture, my project brings together economic, sociological and cultural studies perspectives on U.S. financial history as well as a new critical appreciation of the modes, cultural work, and effects of nostalgia. I will focus on the temporality, aesthetics and materiality of credit instruments (e.g, bills of exchange, promissory notes, IOUs, checks, bonds, and credit cards) whose nostalgic affect prompts the subject to negotiate the rapid changes and increasing immateriality of credit culture. I will also pay close attention to credit companies’ marketing strategies and the rhetoric on credit and debt in North American culture.