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This article juxtaposes debates about the transferrable skill in nineteenth-century periodicals and twenty-first-century pedagogy. In the 1840s, William Harrison Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard, originally serialized in Bentley’s Miscellany, threatened to turn lower-class readers into criminals who could apply skills learned in the novel to real-life thefts and murders (according to the scandalized upper classes). In post-recession American universities in the 2010s, humanities pedagogy often relies upon the rhetoric of the transferable skill (like critical thinking or writing) in order to make courses appear financially viable to students and administrators. I argue that transfers rarely come singly: the transfer of skills can mask a transfer of socioeconomic responsibility as well. I end, unconventionally, with a lesson plan.