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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities

Research project: The History of Financial Advice

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The History of Financial Advice is a collaborative research and education project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), involving literary critics and economic historians. It examines the cultural work that financial advice achieves and traces the development of the genre from the eighteenth to the twenty first century. It is the latest stage of a longer collaborative project exploring the meanings and representations of finance and money.

The project charts the history of personal financial advice literature as it has developed in Britain and the United States, ranging from the private letters and domestic advice manuals of the eighteenth century to the emergence of financial journalism and investment advice in the nineteenth century to the proliferation of popular financial novels, lifestyle guides and blogs in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Drawing on approaches to the study of rhetoric and narrative central to literary and cultural studies, the project investigates how works of financial advice have succeeded in appealing to the desires and fantasies of their readers, despite a lack of evidence for the efficacy of the investment strategies such works propound. Making use of the strand of social science known as 'Cultural Economy', the project also considers how financial advice has shaped public perceptions of, and activities in, financial markets, such that the genre has actively made and remade the very markets about which it advises.

The project included collaborations with partners in economics, finance and education to deliver a series of impact initiatives. The first of these was a Teacher Scholar Programme which developed resources and lesson plans for school teachers, in conjunction with Young Money, the UK’s leading independent authority on financial education. The second was a free online course (a FutureLearn MOOC), Understanding Money: The History of Finance, Speculation and the Stock Market. The third component is a Finder’s Guide for a new historical collection of financial advice guides in the Library of Mistakes in Edinburgh.

For more information on the project and its impact please click here.

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