Spring 2018  -  Get temporary access to course materials (Amherst College and Five-college students only)

A Price for Everything: Making of a Market Society

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-329  |  History, as HIST-339

Moodle site: Course


Jun Hee Cho (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 339 [EU/p] and EUST 329)  This seminar reviews the various socio-cultural configurations of economic relations from the high medieval to the early modern era. Drawing on works from a range of disciplines, we focus on the intersection of market and culture, on how people have struggled to arrange and institutionalize market exchange, and how they have sought to make sense of those changing relations. The course is built around a basic question that is also a current debate: What can we and what can we not buy and sell? And why? To answer these questions, we first consider the foundational works that still govern our basic notions about the market society we live in. We then review several fields of our social lives that have been transformed through market exchange: What makes one good a gift and another a commodity? How can we set a price on the work we do? How did money make the world go around? Why am I often the sum of what I own? And what do these questions tell us about our relationship with each other and our things? We will consider both critical essays and historical case-studies. The goal of the course is to gain a historical and critical perspective on the making of a market society, provide approaches for applied research, and allow us to be conscious participants in the contemporary transformation of our own society.  Two class meetings per week.  Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Cho.

If Overenrolled: Preference to upper level history and economics majors.


2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017