Professor Rebecca Spang, Indiana University (Bloomington)
Thursday 11th October 2018
6.30pm – 8.00pm
Birkbeck, University of London, room to be announced.
Rebecca Spang will use her work on the birth of modern money, and modern politics, during the time of the French Revolution to talk about contemporary monetary innovations like cryptocurrencies and recent policy attempts at addressing inequality. Do low-income individuals benefit by being included in the dominant monetary system, or would they fare better creating their own means of exchange?
Rebecca Spang is a professor of history at Indiana University, where she directs the Liberal Arts and Management Program. She publishes primarily on the interaction of politics, culture, and consumption in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Most recently she’s been interested in money. Her latest, multi-award-winning, book, Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution, uses one of the most infamous examples of monetary innovation—the assignats (a currency initially defined by French revolutionaries as “circulating land”)—to write a new history of money and a new history of the French Revolution. It shows that revolutionary radicalization was driven by the ever-widening gap between political ideals and the experience of daily life. Spang restores economics, in the broadest sense, to its rightful place at the heart of the Revolution, and therefore also at the heart of modern politics. She’s a world leading historian both on the page and in the seminar room.
The event will be chaired by Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, from the editorial collective of the History Workshop Journal. It will be recorded as a podcast for History Workshop Online.