chapter  Two
6 Pages

The Years of High Theory

Joan Robinson's first publication was a pamphlet with a pedagogical twist, Economics is a Serious Subject, published by the Students' Bookstore at Cambridge. Economics is a Serious Subject reached the United States by a circuitous route. Joan Robinson never reprinted Economics is a Serious Subject, The reason she gave was that she had written it in the midst of those years of high theory when she had believed that economics was emerging from the long sleep of laisser-faire doctrines, 'marginal products' and equilibrium. Marjorie Tappan-Hollond, as Director of Studies, objected to Joan Robinson's subjects and her style. At Columbia, where German historicism and American institutionalism had influence, Tappan-Hollond had apparently been taught the "physiology point of view"—to insist that the factors are like those say with which the biologist deals and the technique must be appropriate. Joan Robinson was engaged in writing her Economics of Imperfect Competition, but her excitement seemed to center on the theory of employment.