The Zero-Sum Game of Corporate Personhood
  • Clare V. Eby
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Economics book series (PSLCE)


The legal fiction of corporate personhood has created a zero-sum game entailing a transfer of power toward the corporation and away from human beings. While spotlighted following Citizens United (2010) and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), the legal precedents of corporate personhood stretch back for centuries. The Progressive era is a particularly important juncture, marking what Martin Sklar terms the “corporate reconstruction of American capitalism.” The Squatter and the Don (1885) by María Amaparo Ruiz de Burton and The Octopus (1901) by Frank Norris insist on the difference between metaphorical personification and human embodiment, developing a critical analysis of corporations. A postmodern riff on the nineteenth-century novel, Richard Powers’s Gain (1998), also responds to the legal history of corporate personal unaccountability and to its own literary predecessors.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clare V. Eby
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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