Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Rei Magosaki, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lynda Hall, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Justine Van Meter, Ph.D.


Charles Yu’s short story “Standard Loneliness Package” from the speculative fiction collection Sorry Please Thank You features a worker who conforms to the cultural logic of Wall Street and late capitalism. However, the privilege of working in a tech company in an up-and-coming industry does not shield him from experiencing the oftentimes destructive logic of financial speculation and in-built structural inequalities. This paper makes a case that a tragedy could be read into this worker’s seemingly stable situation in a way that can uncover the character’s truly sorry state from his illusion of privilege and choice. But first, readers must read empathetically into the failures of this worker’s colleagues, demonstrating that to be aware of others is to be aware of oneself. Ultimately, reading this way will reveal that workers have value beyond the dominant logic of late capitalism and Wall Street. Tragedy becomes an organic narrative device for self-realization for the readers, suggesting in the power of literature and reading responsibly to humanize characters counter to their own consent to the uncritical logic and acceptance of late capitalism that shapes their reality. Literature then becomes a way to imagine and “speculate” alternatively on human value against the status quo in which financial speculation has been a capitalistic tool for instrumentalizing the future

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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