Thursday, April 03, 2008

Who is afraid of Ayn Rand?

I have been teaching out of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged since my graduate student days. I usually contrast the book with other literary treatments of economic conditions. This semester the students are required to do a literary analysis of Atlas Shrugged and The Grapes of Wrath. Next term the students in my Honors Course will be reading Defoe, Dickens and Rand. And the literary assessment is to be grounded in economics.

Atlas Shrugged is a very sophisticated treatment of economic issues. It is hard-hitting on both points of the moral foundations of capitalism and the logic of economic analysis. But the teacher need not be a preacher in using the book, he/she can use the book as a teaching tool. Heck, I have used Nickel and Dimed as a teaching tool. That book is hard-hitting in its moral indictment, but unfortunately as unimformed on the basics of economic teaching as one could find. It is actually a GREAT teaching tool for undergraduates because the book is so bad on economics, but so colorful on other aspects. More...

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