The Golden Age of The Working Critic (Criticism LTD, Episode #1)

Apple Podcasts


Resonate Recordings

The premiere of a new series, “Criticism LTD,” on the contemporary state of criticism. This episode covers proclamations of crisis from legacy media earlier this year, demands for a cosmopolitan turn in literary studies (11:15), the alleged golden age of popular criticism (28:00), and the role of para-academic publications like the Los Angeles Review of Books (54:30).

Starting this season, episode transcripts will be available to all who subscribe to The American Vandal newsletter.

Episode Cast:

Michelle Chihara is Editor-In-Chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as Associate Professor & Director of the Whittier Scholars Program at Whittier College.

John Guillory is the Julius Silver Professor of English Emeritus at New York University and the author of Professing Criticism (U. Chicago, 2022)

Ryan Ruby is a freelance writer and member of the Berlin Writers’ Workshop, as well as winner of the 2023 Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism and author of “A Golden Age?”, a lecture hosted by Vinduet magazine in Oslo on March 7, 2023.

Ignacio M. Sanchez Prado is the Jarvis Thurston & Mona Van Duyn Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of “The Humanities Are Worth Fighting For.”

Justin Smith-Ruiu is Professor of History & Philosophy of Science at Université Paris Cité and host of the What is X? podcast for The Point Magazine.

Matt Seybold is Associate Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, resident scholar at the Center For Mark Twain Studies, and executive producer of The American Vandal Podcast.


The American Vandal Podcast is delighted that Joe Locke and Circle 9 Records have given us permission to use Locke’s new album, Makram, as the soundtrack to the “Criticism LTD” series. Locke’s quartet features Lorin Cohen on bass, Jim Ridl on keys, and Samvel Sarkisyan on drums, as well as Locke on vibes.

Tracks featured in this episode include Locke’s original compositions “Song For Vic Juris,” “Makram,” “Tushkin,” and “Shifting Moon.”

And his arrangement of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life.”

Episode Bibliography:

Eric Bennett, “Can Literary Scholars Transcend Their Training?” The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 3, 2023)

Sarah Blackwood, “Letter From An English Department on the Brink” The New York Review (April 2, 2023)

Michelle Chihara & Jenny Liou, “Jenny Liou’s Muscle Memory LARB Radio Hour (April 7, 2023)

Nicholas Dames, “Is This The End of Literary Studies?” The Nation (February 21, 2023)

Mike Davis & Jon Wiener, Set The Night On Fire: L.A. in the Sixties (Verso, 2020)

Merve Emre, “Has Academia Ruined Literary Criticism?” The New Yorker (January 16, 2023)

Chelsea Fitzgerald, “Self-Help & The Miseries of Capitalism” Los Angeles Review of Books (May 13, 2023)

John Guillory, Professing Criticism: Essays On The Organization of Literary Study (U. Chicago, 2022)

John Guilory, “We Cannot All Be Edward Said” The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 13, 2023)

Nathan Heller, “The End of The English Major” The New Yorker (February 27, 2023)

Anna Kornbluh, Christopher Newfield, & Matt Seybold, “Working Conditions” The American Vandal Podcast (January 4, 2023)

Jenny Liou, Muscle Memory (Kaya Press, 2022)

Christian Lorentzen, “Like This or Die” Harper’s (April, 2019)

Phillip Maciak, Avidly Reads Screen Time (NYU Press, 2023)

Rani Neutill, “BTS: Permission to Desire” Los Angeles Review of Books (February 17, 2023)

Ignacio M. Sanchez Prado, “The Humanities Are Worth Fighting For” Los Angeles Review of Books (July 14, 2023)

Bruce Robbins, “John Guillory’s Nonalignment Pact” The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 3, 2023)

Ryan Ruby, “A Golden Age?” Vinduet (April 25, 2023)

Ryan Ruby & Justin E. H. Smith, “What is Criticism?” What is X? (January 1, 2022)

Jennifer Schuessler, “What is Literary Criticism For?” New York Times (February 3, 2023)

Caleb Smith, Thoreau’s Axe: Distraction & Discipline in American Culture (Princeton UP, 2023)

Mark Twain, Is Shakespeare Dead? (Harper & Bros, 1909)

Mark Twain, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” North American Review (July, 1895)

Mark Twain, “Enchantments & Enchanters” in Life On The Mississippi (J. Osgood, 1883)

Mark Twain, “The Fable of The Yellow Terror” in Fables of Man, Ed. John S. Tuckey (U. California, 1972)

Mark Twain, “3,000 Years Among the Microbes” in Which Was The Dream?, Ed. John S. Tuckey (U. California, 1968)

Mark Twain, “The Lowest Animal” in Letters From The Earth, Ed. Bernard De Voto (Harper & Row, 1962)

Jon Wiener, “Writing About L.A. in the Sixties with Mike Davis” Los Angeles Review of Books (November 11, 2022)

Oscar Wilde, “The Critic As Artist” in Intentions (J. Osgood, 1891)

Cat Zhang, “Finally, Some Freaky K-Pop Writing” Vulture (March 23, 2023)