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Literary Analysis of World Bank Reports: Franco Moretti, Thursdays at Four, Oct. 2, 2014

The World According to the Bank:
an Analysis of World Bank Reports, 1946-2010

October 2, 2014, at 4:00pm
Northrop — Crosby Seminar Room

Franco Moretti, English, Stanford, gives a semantic, stylistic study of World Bank reports.


Download: audio, small video, or original.

Q&A

Download: audio, small video, or original.

Like the post-world-war-II capitalism which it contributed to reorganize and transform, the World Bank seems to have gone through two fundamental periods: the age of reconstruction and infrastructure – the “Trente Glorieuses” from the end of war to the mid-Seventies – and the phase of neo-liberal market-driven globalization, from 1980 to the present. This project assumes the Bank’s economic policies as a given background, but focuses on the discursive sections of the yearly reports, in order to highlight how this primum movens of contemporary globalisation communicates and legitimizes its actions: a “public discourse” that has increased its relevance over the years, as if the Bank’s strictly economic function needed to be complemented by the symbolic establishment of a sort of “atmosphere of economic liberalism”.

Through a study of selected keywords – “trade”, “private/public”, “poverty”, “environment” and more – this talk brings to light the semantic fields constitutive of the World Bank’s “rhetoric of globalization”: from the geography of the contemporary world-system to the “knowledge” whereby the Bank justifies its policies, to the ever-expanding semantic network associated to the notions of “loan” and of “debt”.

Canon/Archive: Large-Scale Dynamics in the Literary Field

October 3, 2014, at 12 noon
1210 Heller Hall


Download: audio, small video, or original.

See also: Near Stars: Analytic Scale and the Literary Object, by Eric Hayot, Penn State.

franco morettiMoretti is author of Signs Taken for Wonders (1983), The Way of the World (1987), Modern Epic (1995), Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1998), Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005), The Bourgeois (2013), and Distant Reading (2013), and chief editor of The Novel (2006). He is founder of Stanford’s Center for the Study of the Novel and Literary Lab, writes often for New Left Review, and has been translated into over twenty languages.

These talks were cosponsored by the Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World.

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