ENGL 111 Mini-Collaboration

Myah Dombroski

Annie Urig

Mackenzie Gillen

Giovanni Cicoria-Timm

Ava McCann

Andre Bianchi

Throughout The Big Short by Michael Lewis, the book focuses primarily on those who are going to be potentially benefiting from the infamous 2008 Housing Crisis and not those who were negatively impacted by it. The Big Short provides an insider perspective on the financial crisis and the creation of the credit default swap market. Unlike most portrayals of the crisis, The Big Short introduces those who gained from it, providing a story that had never before been told. The book takes place in mainly corporate settings and involves characters who are mostly employees in the finance sector. The Big Short shows the business side of the crash and does not involve the personal aspect of the effects the event has had on everyday Americans. The book goes in-depth about how the crash came to occur, discussing how risky the subprime mortgage bonds could potentially be and the eventual result it had on the economy and millions of people all across the country.

Although The Big Short provides a detailed depiction of the 2008 Housing Crisis, the depiction is not relatable to the average reader, which is a huge thing that is missing. The Big Short is a story written by an economist about the economy, using terminology and phrasings that, unless the reader is an economist themselves, is generally unfamiliar. On the other hand, The Turner House by Angela Flournoy provides a story about the same Housing Crisis, but through the lens of a middle-class family, something to which every reader can in some way relate. This makes it so that not only is it more impactful, but also more easily understood. Without relatable values, emotions, and moments, The Big Short makes the situation seem more distant, and less terrible, while the 2008 Housing Crisis was one of the most devastating things to hit the American economy in the last few decades. 

The Turner House sheds light on a more personal perspective on how people were affected by the 2008 financial crisis. The Big Short shows an economical standpoint on houses and loans, and how they only affect and benefit the brokers and the company. The Turner House shows the emotional values of the homes and the effects on a family. It also depicts how each sibling is affected in different ways and individually shows their thoughts and feelings. 

There are several examples of the emotional connection that The Turner House provides. While The Big Short provides an economical perspective, The Turner House shows the reader how the issues presented are applicable in real-world scenarios. Because there is an abundance of siblings within The Turner House, many of them hold different views on what should be done with their childhood home while living through the 2008 recession. While Cha Cha, the oldest Turner child, is conversing with Marlene, the fifth Turner child, she states, “If you sell the house I will never forgive you… do this and you break my heart” (198). This quote provides an example of the emotions that come along with the idea of selling the house caused by the recession. The main factor in this conflict of decision is the mother, Viola. Viola is in favor of keeping the house and although she does not currently live there due to illness, she has aspirations of being back in her home. She states, “‘And I don’t want to lose it,’ Viola continued. ‘I plan on movin’ back just as soon as I get strong again. Just a couple more months” (40). This issue also causes emotional conflict for her children and makes the decision much more difficult. 

When it comes to comparing The Big Short to The Turner House, the first thing that caught our attention was the different perspectives provided in each of these texts. The Turner House was a more understandable and relatable story, which made the book itself more effective. In The Big Short, most of the terminology was lost on us as readers, which made it harder to comprehend what was happening and relate to it. For this reason, The Turner House provided a clearer understanding of the situation for readers who didn’t have a firsthand experience with the crisis. As a group, we discussed being too young to remember the Housing Crisis, but The Turner House provides us with a better understanding of the struggles that our families may have experienced. Many families, such as ours, experienced one or more family members losing their jobs, which led to a decrease in financial stability and a need, in some cases, to sell their house to make up for it. The use of pathos within The Turner House makes it an overall more effective text than The Big Short and provides us with more insight into the challenges of the crisis. The use of many siblings allows us to see the different situations people were facing throughout the crisis and makes some characters relatable to what our families face as a result.

Group Collaboration ENGL 111

Giovanni Cicoria-Timm

Annie Urig

Isabelle Hoff

Ryan Trebing

Myah Dombroski

Throughout the course of King Lear by William Shakespeare, we see the terms liquid, liquidity, and swapping interact with the concept of expulsion. According to the Oxford dictionary, liquid refers to a “substance that flows freely but is of constant volume, having a consistency like that of water or oil”, while liquidity is, “the ease of how quickly an asset can be converted into another asset.” The term swapping also plays a huge role in the topic around expulsion and this is defined by Investopedia as, “ a derivative contract through which two parties exchange the cash flows or liabilities from two different financial instruments, normally involving cash flow such as a loan or bond.” 

One way we see the term “liquid” being present within King Lear is when Goneril and Regan were expressing the love they had for their father. Despite their true feelings, they conformed to what they knew their father would like to hear in order to get what they wanted, which seemed very liquid. They went on about how much they loved their father to ensure they would receive their share of their father’s land and power, despite their true feelings they had for their father. King Lear’s youngest daughter, Cordelia, however, was not liquid in her response to his request of unconditional love. Once she announced her love would not be as great as her sisters, we witnessed the liquidity of King Lear himself. As he was hoping for flattery and love, he was offended to receive the truth from his favorite daughter. The liquidity of King Lear’s power is present when he says, “With my two daughters’ dowers digest the third. Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her”(page 15, 144-145). This quote says a lot about Lear and both the liquidity of the love and power he has for each of his daughters, that if they betray him then they will no longer receive any dowry. The love Lear has for his daughters appears to be conditional. If anyone contradicts his beliefs, he will no longer love or accept them. The expulsion of both his daughter, Cordelia, and his servant, the Earl of Kent, can be seen as a result of them bruising Lear’s ego. Being “liquid”, as Goneril and Regan were, this allowed them to avoid being expelled by their father’s liquidity of power. 

Swapping is evident in King Lear in how Lear passes his land between different people based on who he’s decided at that moment his favorite is. He swaps back and forth between who is getting his assets, the kingdom, and never stays with a solid decision. This interacts with expulsion because Cordelia is banished, or expelled, from the kingdom while Lear keeps making different decisions. As Lear says, “Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, for we have no such daughter, nor shall ever see that face of hers again. Therefore begone without our grace, our love, our benison” (page 25, lines 304-308). Because Lear is swapping his assets, those around him are having their lives changed as they wait for him to make a final decision. By giving his daughter to the King of France, he also swapped his love from Cordelia to his other daughters. King Lear says Cordelia is no longer his daughter and that she betrayed him, which results in him expelling her from both his family and his kingdom. King Lear at its core is a piece about loyalty, fraud, and trust. By studying these themes through the lens of liquid/liquidity, swapping, and expulsion, we as readers are able to more deeply understand not only the practice of analyzing a text, but also lessons which apply to real life. In regards to what question this exercise brings up, there’s the question of, “How will these themes present themselves in other works?” Going forward it will be interesting to see what contributes to someone’s loyalty and how the terms liquid, liquidity, and swapping are affected by how loyal someone is. This is important because there will always be themes or morals to look for in reading; practicing on King Lear gives us a look into how and why we do this exercise, so that we have the context for when we try it in the future.