Salto Mortale: Narrative, Speculation, and the Chance of the Future


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




As both an economic process and a cognitive act, speculation requires imagining an uncertain future. This project begins by analyzing the speculative financial instruments that dominate our economy, arguing that the future they produce is immediate, preemptable, and ahistorical. It claims that this future, which appears to promise both limitless profit and extraordinary risk, is reflected in and refracted by a variety of fiction and film genres distinct to the American twenty-first century—the 9/11 novel, the apocalyptic narrative, the counterfactual, the financial thriller, and the terrorist novel. These literary forms index the consequences of financialization and provide a set of narrative alternatives for imagining the future and reflecting on the present.