Cognitive Labor, Buried Treasure, and Fictive Capital

In 1843, the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper published the winning entry in its writing competition, awarding Edgar Allan Poe the sum of $100 for his short story “The Gold-Bug.”

goldbugWritten in the wake of the financial collapse of 1836 and the amplification of long-standing debates about paper money and gold, sharpening antebellum conflicts and the spread of evangelical revivalism, the once-wealthy protagonist of Poe’s tale – “subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy” and attempting to decipher the signs on what he takes as a treasure map – goes looking, as he puts it, for “the text for my context.” […]



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