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Modernism and the Meaning of Corporate Persons

Modernism and the Meaning of Corporate Persons

Do collectivities intend to act and speak like individuals, like persons? Long before announcing that corporate persons freely “speak” with money in Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court elaborated the legal fiction of American corporate personhood in the 1880s. Yet the speaking corporation exposed a fundamental philosophical question about collective intention, extending beyond the law and essential to modern American literature. The possibility that collective entities might mean to act and speak like us animated a diverse set of American writers, artists, and theorists of the corporation in the first half of the twentieth century, stimulating a revolution of thought on intention. Prof. Siraganian’s Modernism and the Meaning of Corporate Persons tells that story, offering the first multidisciplinary account of corporate personhood. Ranging from the legal analysis of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Frederic Maitland, and Harold Laski to the creative writing of Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and George Schuyler, the book explores how disputes over corporate intention provoked conflicting theories of personhood, race, meaning, and interpretation still debated today.

Read more about it at Prof. Siraganian’s guest blog on Corporate Finance Lab.