We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Material, literary narrative and cultural economy.

Gregson, N. (2009) 'Material, literary narrative and cultural economy.', Journal of cultural economy., 2 (3). pp. 285-300.


In this paper I argue that thinking about the material in cultural economy has much to gain from culture itself. Specifically, I explore the potential of literary narrative for conceptualizing and writing material within a performative cultural economy. Drawing on the industrial short stories of Primo Levi (The Periodic Table, The Wrench, A Tranquil Star), I provide a literal reading of these works, highlighting their foregrounding of material encounters, the importance of process (and not just product), and materials’ instability in process, and their connections to theorizations of economies as assemblage. The paper also explores how Levi writes material to presence using the techniques of narrative discourse, particularly mimesis. The paper concludes by arguing that narrative is a means to writing a performative cultural economy and that cultural economy needs to rekindle the arts of story-telling. Paying attention to literary narrative shows how this might be achieved.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Material, Literary narrative, Materiality, Primo Levi.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is an electronic version of an article published in Gregson, N. (2009) 'Material, literary narrative and cultural economy.', Journal of cultural economy., 2 (3). pp. 285-300. Journal of cultural economy is available online at:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:26 March 2013
Date of first online publication:2009
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar