Decommodified Labor, Selling Out, & Other Compromises of The Great Resignation with Leigh Claire La Berge & Rachel Greenwald Smith

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Resonate Recordings

How do we explain the so-called “Great Resignation”? Or, for that matter, other mysteries of our contemporary economy, like the high prices charged for culture work, but the low wages paid to culture workers?

On a new episode of The American Vandal Podcast, two scholars of Post45 literature and culture join Matt Seybold to discuss the work of art.

Leigh Claire La Berge is currently on fellowship with the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. She is also an Associate Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her books include Scandals & Abstractions: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s (Oxford UP, 2014) and Wages Against Artwork: Decommodified Labor & the Claims of Socially Engaged Art (Duke UP, 2019). She is also co-editor of Reading Capitalist Realism (U. Iowa P, 2014). Her current, much-anticipated project is a history of capitalism from a feline perspective, “Marx For Cats: A Radical Bestiary.” [Twitter: @marxforcats]

For a taste of this project, check out the series of explainer videos for and about cats created by Dr. La Berge and Caroline Wollard at, including the following:

Rachel Greenwald Smith is Associate Professor of English at St. Louis University. She is the author of On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal (Graywolf Press, 2021) and Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism (Cambridge UP, 2015). She is also editor of American Literature in Transition, 2000-2010 (Cambridge UP, 2017) and co-editor of Neoliberalism & Contemporary Literary Culture (Johns Hopkins UP, 2017) [Twitter: @rgreenwaldsmith]

This season also includes special theme music, “Work Song” by Dan Reeder, courtesy of the artist and Oh Boy Records. Please check out Dan Reeder’s extraordinary catalog of music on Apple & Spotify. [Twitter: @DanReeder]

“The World’s Work” is hosted by Matt Seybold, who is executive producer of The American Vandal Podcast and resident scholar at the Center For Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. [Twitter: @MEASeybold]

Episode Bibliography:

Paul Beatty, The Sellout (FSR, 2015)

Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Duke UP, 2011)

Wendy Brown, Undoing The Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015)

Francis Fukuyama, The End of History & The Last Man (Free Press, 1992)

Matthew Futterman, Players: How Sports Became A Business (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

Thomas Hirschhorn, Gramsci Monument (2013)

Jason Kaufman, “Rise & Fall of a Nation of Joiners: The Knights of Labor Revisited” (Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Spring 2001)

Leigh Claire La Berge, “A Political Economy of Envy” (Texte Zur Kunst, September 2021)

Leigh Claire La Berge, “Decommodified Labor: Conceptualizing Work After The Wage” (Journal of the Cultural Studies Association, Spring 2018)

Leigh Claire La Berge, “Time Stands Still At The Super Bowl: Trump, Rules, & The Banality of American Liberalism” (LA Review of Books Blog, 2.9.2018)

Leigh Claire La Berge, Wages Against Artwork: Decommodified Labor & the Claims of Socially Engaged Art (Duke UP, 2019)

Leigh Claire La Berge & Quinn Slobodian, “Reading For Neoliberalism, Reading Like Neoliberals” (American Literary History, Fall 2017)

James Livingston, “Fuck Work” (Aeon, 11.25.2016)

Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This (Riverhead, 2021)

Karl Marx, A Contribution To The Critique of Political Economy (1859)

Mark McGurl, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction & The Rise of Creative Writing (Harvard UP, 2009)

Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest & Relaxation (Penguin, 2018)

Robert Reich, “Is America Experiencing An Unofficial General Strike?” (The Guardian, 10.13.2021)

Joan Robinson, Economic Philosophy (C.A. Watts, 1962)

Matt Seybold, “Alec Baldwin, James Baldwin, & Apocalyptic Exceptionalism” (LA Review of Books Blog, 2.9.2017)

Matt Seybold, “Neoliberal Rationality in The Old Gilded Age” (CMTS, 10.5.2018)

Harriet Sherwood, “Unesco Warns of Crisis in Creative Sector with 10M Jobs Lost Due To Pandemic” (Guardian, 2.7.2022)

Jason E. Smith, “‘Striketober’ & Labor’s Long Downturn” (Brooklyn Rail, December 2021)

Rachel Greenwald Smith, Affect & American Literature in The Age of Neoliberalism (Cambridge UP, 2015)

Rachel Greenwald Smith, “In The Riot Grrrl Archive: Punk & The Limits of Individualism” (Yale Review, 7.19.2021)

Rachel Greenwald Smith, On Compromise: Art, Faith, & The Fate of an American Ideal (Graywolf, 2021)

Rachel Greenwald Smith, “1980 to The Present: Formalism & the New Authoritarianism” in Timelines of American Literature (John Hopkins UP, 2019)

Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism (Polity, 2016)

Students For A Democratic Society, “Port Huron Statement” (1962)

Monica Torres, “People Are Sharing The Moment They Quit Their Toxic Jobs On TikTok, And It’s A Journey” (HuffPost, 7.15.2021)

Mark Twain, “The New Dynasty” (March 22, 1886)

Phil Wegner, Life Between Two Deaths, 1989-2001: US Culture In The Long Nineties (Duke UP, 2009)

Joy Williams, “The Last Generation” (Esquire, April 1989)