City Tech’s Interdisciplinary Peer-Reviewed Journal NANO: New American Notes Online Explores the Gift in an Age of Austerity

How do gifts move and also stay put? The new issue of NANO: New American Notes Online, an open access City Tech humanities journal, explores this and related questions by considering how gift exchange functions in contemporary consumer culture, the Burning Man festival, Amish domestic life, and literary works from Marianne Moore to Dave Eggers.

Issue 11, “Economies of the Gift in an Age of Austerity,” is the result of a collaboration between guest editors J.P. Craig (Alabama State University) and Jennie Stearns (Georgia Gwinnett College), the article authors, and NANO’s editorial team: Sean Scanlan and Rebecca Devers.

Guest editors J.P. Craig and Jennie Stearns describe the direction of this special issue:

In our culture, all material gifts are generally first commodities and all commodities potential gifts. But is it really that simple? The thread that we have tried to weave throughout this introduction is that any time one mixes social codes with offerings, social feelings will emerge. If an object can be either a gift or a commodity at different times, then a transaction is defined not by the objects exchanged but, at least in part, by the social relations it represents. The boundary between gift and commodity exchange demarcates transactions between those who recognize an ongoing relationship with each other as distinct from transactions between those who do not.

Gift exchange thus plays a critical role not only in the maintaining of relationships between friends and family, but also in the defining and even the formation of larger communities. For this reason, they must also be viewed critically: the gift that binds might also be a gift that simultaneously excludes or one that carries with it the risk of subordination. The contributors to this issue of NANO rely upon these and other understandings of the gift to explore how generosity functions in the face of scarcity—scarcity of time, resources, mutual tolerance—to strengthen, or weaken, communal bonds.

Pandora, by Rossetti

Table of Contents:

Issue 11: Economies of the Gift in an Age of Austerity
Guested Edited by: J.P. Craig and Jennie Stearns

Editors’ Introduction for NANO Special Issue 11: Economies of the Gift in an Age of Austerity
J.P. Craig and Jennie Stearns

Woolf’s Weighty Gifts: The Measure of Modernist Autonomy
Rebecca Colesworthy, SUNY Albany

Gift Exchange as Communal Resistance in Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying
Scott Thomas Gibson, La Universidad San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador

“To fulfill a private obligation”: Marianne Moore, Her Patrons, and the Social Economy of the Gift
Síofra McSherry, Freie Universität Berlin

Are Women Full Citizens? The Abortion Debate, and the “Gifts” of Life and Poverty
Elizabeth Gregory, University of Houston

Consumption in Practice: Gift-Giving as Mutual Aid in Amish Home Sales
Nao Nomura, Saitama University, Japan

Blazing Grace: The Gifted Culture of Burning Man
Graham St. John, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

The Gift Network: Dave Eggers and the Circulation of Second Editions
Jacquelin O’Dell, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

In Looking “We” Become: Neoliberal Giving and Whole Planet Foundation’s Faces of Poverty
Anushka Peres, University of Arizona

NANO Gets a New Look:
In addition, the founder and editor of the journal, Sean Scanlan, has overhauled the look of the journal. The reason for this design, explained at length in the new blog section of the journal, is due to the need to update the CMS so that NANO gets indexed quickly and efficiently. The updated design not only loads faster, it also is responsive on mobile devices. NANO is now https instead of http, which is essential for security and stability. The journal has always been at the forefront of giving authors rights over their material. Now, NANO has a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License. This designation more clearly spells out NANO’s and the author’s desire to share and to receive attribution. NANO has an Instagram account, so if readers have a NANO theme-related photo, or an academic-related image, please send it the editor: or

On the Horizon:
Issue 12 on The Force Awakens is ramping up this summer and will be published in the late fall of 2017. And Issue 13 on The Anthropocene is slated for spring 2018.