Capitalist Realism, Disappointment, and the History of Sensibilities: A Case for Fiction as Historical Source


Blending a reflection on the historiography of sensibilities in the study of the recent past with a discussion on the relationship between literary criticism and the field of history proper, this paper makes a case for a further engagement with fiction as a historical source by cultural historians. Briefly engaging with the evolution of Raymond Williams' concept of a "structure of feeling" and tracing it to Daniel Wickberg's call for a new history of sensibilities, the article then engages with the field of what Mark Fisher called "capitalist realism" as an object of study that can serve as an example on how to apply the study of fiction in recent history.

Author Biography

Dennis Koelling, European University Institute
Dennis Koelling is currently a PhD-Researcher at the Department of History and Civilization at the European University Institute. His dissertation focusses on the representations of the character of Homo Oeconomicus in popular culture in the twentieth and twenty-first century. He holds a Master of Arts in Global History from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in North American Studies from the John-F.-Kennedy-Institute at Freie Universität Berlin. His main research interests include the history of capitalism with a focus on neoliberal subjectivity, the recent history of popular culture(s), and the relationship between fiction and history proper.