Paul Crosthwaite

Paul Crosthwaite

I'm a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, with a particular interest in the intersections of literature, culture and economics.

Location United Kingdom


  • Great, thanks Richard!

  • Thanks Ian. Yes, Crabapple's work definitely taps into a tradition of satirical depiction that goes back to eighteenth-century artists like Hogarth - a sense of the mysterious/supernatural is very much part of that.

  • Thanks Alyson - these are all brilliant books!

  • Thanks Stephen. Yes, it's very much this now-iconic image of the trading floor that the current BBC series Industry - set in a City investment bank - makes use of: Worth a look if you haven't seen it

  • Good point Mike, thanks. Alex Preda's book Framing Finance is a great study of how markets became increasingly defined as divided between "insiders" and "outsiders."

  • Thanks Claire. The author Benjamin Myers recently published an interesting novel about this group, The Gallows Pole:

  • Thanks Alyson - yes, definitely a particularly ignominious episode, in a history replete with them!

  • Thanks Mike. That sense of these financial phenonema as remote or cosmic is nicely captured in this art project:

  • Thanks Philip. Yes, the stones are a helpful indication of how a collective agreement to treat something as money and hence as possessing value can avoid the need for the substance itself actually to be present.

  • Thanks Leny. Yes, in crises we often see the phenomenon of a "flight to safety" or "quality" on the part of investors - and gold is often top of their lists. This seems to suggest that the idea of gold as having a fundamental or essential value still carries a lot of weight (in every sense!).

  • Thanks Ian - that's a very valid point, though one of the issues with the international gold standard around the turn of the twentieth century was that expansionary economic conditions were heavily dependent on whether or not prospectors happened to find sufficient gold deposits in the earth. Some saw this as an arbitrary and contingent basis for the global...

  • This is very much what we're aiming to identify and explore in this course!

  • Thanks - this is a great example of how money isn't simply a neutral phenomenon, but is suffused with cultural meanings and values.

  • Thanks Trev - I'm certainly familiar with how notes withdrawn north of the border can be looked at askance further south!

  • Welcome to the course - hope you enjoy it.

  • Great - I hope the course will deliver on that. Welcome!

  • Glad you enjoyed!

  • Thanks - pleased to hear that you enjoyed those segments.

  • Ah, the old "just throw darts at the stock listings page of the newspaper - chances are you'll do as well as the average fund manager" approach!

  • Great to hear, thanks.

  • Pleased to hear that it gave you a broadened perspective Nadine.

  • Glad you found it worthwhile!

  • Hi Leslie, by way of a (non?) answer, here's something Nicky, Peter, and I wrote in a forthcoming piece on "Theologies of Money" (quoting a great LRB article by John Lanchester):

    “Why on earth” do Bitcoin and other crytopcurrencies, have “any value at all” (Lanchester 2016) – why are people willing to accept these (self-proclaimed) forms of money in...

  • Good to hear Cynthia, thanks!

  • This is an interesting point Mary, thanks. There's a school of thought that e.g. the railway boom, the dot-com boom of the late 1990s - while they might have been at least in part bubbles, and caused some heavy losses and failures - were also necessary or worthwhile because they left us with genuinely useful infrastructure (rail networks, key aspects of the...

  • Yes, that sense of "ureality" (noted by commentators in 1929, as above) seems very resonant now.

  • On this point, I like this observation from a journalist of the time, Garet Garrett:

    The basic delusion was that we had entered a fourth-dimensional economic world. The wonderful feature of this new world was that all possibilities of increase were infinite. There was no longer any limit upon the rise of common stocks. Since this was obvious to everyone, it...

  • Thanks Mary. The relationship between the Great Crash and the Great Depression is notoriously disputed, but I find Maury Klein's argument in Rainbow’s End: The Crash of 1929 (OUP, 2001) persuasive: that the one didn't cause the other in some straightforward or mechanistic way, but that the crash altered the public mood, generating a shift from confidence to...

  • Thanks Sam - I think the comparison with contemporary Silicon Valley-style tech start-ups is very apposite!

  • Yes, the language we use - and the emotions attached to that language - can definitely have very real financial and economic effects.

  • Yes, 2020 will definitely go down as another of those years that's synonymous with crisis (of more than one kind in this case).

  • Well, that's about double the length of the hypothetical Kondratiev Wave, so there might be something in it!

  • Great to hear, thanks Silvia.

  • Thanks. Yes, we often see a hierarchy - from most to least respectable - of investment/speculation/gambling. But then the closer you look, the blurrier the dividing lines appear...

  • Glad you enjoyed it - and found it realistic!

  • Good, thanks!

  • Thanks John. Yes, the old jibe aimed at authors of investment advice: "if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"!

  • Thanks. Yes, there's the idea that modern democracy itself was born over (probably pretty terrible!) coffee in these kinds of establishments

  • Great, thanks.

  • Thanks John. Yes, it's difficult to see Dorothy et al in the same light after learning about the allegorical interpretation!