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The Charles Bernheimer Prize Citations 2006 HM

2006 Honorable Mention:

Irene Perciali, "Personifying Capitalism: Economic Imagination, the Novel, and the Entrepreneur." (University of California, Berkeley)

Perciali's dissertation offers a compelling account of the status of the entrepreneur in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century novel. She investigates complex theoretical issues in the relationship between literature and economics and subtly relates her theoretical concerns to individual texts. Perciali argues that both Honoré de Balzac and William Faulkner use the figure of the rapacious and brilliant entrepreneur as a personification of the economic structure of emergent capitalism. She shows how the novelists use narrative techniques--especially the manipulation of point of view--to figure economic and historical problems and to offer the novel as an alternative form of social science. Perciali places materials from economic theory, particularly the works of Jean-Baptiste Say and Joseph Schumpeter, into productive dialogue with literary texts. She shows the extent to which capitalism shapes the novel while the novel at the same time brings into existence the categories with which capitalism gradually comes to conceive of itself. Her readings of particular novels--notably Balzac's La Maison Nucingen, Père Goriot, and Splendeurs et Misères des Courtisanes and Faulkner's Snopes Trilogy (The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion)--are consistently sophisticated, and the sequence of novels helps develop her argument in a graceful and unforced manner. Perciali's dissertation stands out for its intellectual maturity, daring, and innovation, and earns an honorable mention for the Bernheimer Prize.

2006 Bernheimer Prize Committee:
Perciles Lewis, Yale University
Steven Yao, Hamilton College
Ron Bogue, University of Georgia