This chapter considers two influential conceptions of contemporary labor, which emerge from and contribute to radically divergent interpretive traditions, but share surprising common ground. First is the largely celebratory idea of a “creative class” branded by Richard Florida, a management professor and globetrotting consultant to government and industry. Second is the account of “immaterial labor” assembled by a group of thinkers linked to the radical Leftist autonomia movement, including Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Maurizio Lazzarato, and Paolo Virno. What do these various thinkers have to do with literature? I suggest that knowledge of literature’s material history-in particular, of the emergence and then mainstreaming of a romance with the figure of the writer as original creator-prompts a critique of the assumptions about subjectivity that their work tends to circulate, legitimate, and naturalize.

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