Politics & The Paracademy (Criticism LTD, Episode #8)

Apple Podcasts


Resonate Recordings

An attempt to triangulate politicization, professionalization, and publication by examining several periods in the history of criticism. The episode begins with Joe Locke describing an overt turn towards social justice in his music following police murder of George Floyd, followed by a discussion of the misperception of “Professing Criticism” as a call to depoliticize [7:00]. An epilogue to “The Chicago Fight” [17:00] and humanist criticism [24:00]. Discussion of the implicit politics of the paracademy [51:00], its emergence in response to conglomeration [56:00], and the reemergence of patronage [68:00] precede profile of Las Vegas Review of Books [81:00] and epilogue at University of Puerto Rico [100:30].

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


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

John Hay is Associate Professor of English at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and founding editor of Las Vegas Review of Books.

Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera is Professor of the Humanities at University of Puerto Rico, as well as author of Decolonizing American Spanish (U Pittsburgh P, 2022), After American Studies (Routledge, 2018), and “Where The Humanities Are Not In Crisis”

Katie Kadue is Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Binghamton and the author of “The End of The Star System.”

Joe Locke is a professional vibraphonist, composer, and bandleader with hundreds of recording credits and commissions across a range of musical styles. His 2023 album, Makram (Circle 9 Records), is the soundtrack to “Criticism LTD.”

Tom Lutz is a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Riverside, as well as the publisher and founding editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Review of Books. He launched The LARB Publishing Workshop.

Edward Nik-Khah is Professor of Economics at Roanoke College and the co-author (with Philip Mirowski) of The Knowledge We Have Lost In Information (Oxford UP, 2017).

Bruce Robbins is Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, and the author of Politics & Criticism (Stanford UP, 2022), The Beneficiary (Duke UP, 2017), Upward Mobility & The Common Good (Princeton UP, 2007), and Secular Vocations (Verso, 1993)

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 PodcastHe’s also co-editor (with Michelle Chihara) of The Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics (2018).


The American Vandal Podcast is delighted that Joe Locke and Circle 9 Records have given us permission to use Locke’s new album, Makramas 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 “Interwoven Hues,” “Makram,” & “Raise Heaven (For Roy).”

And his arrangements of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” & Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale.”

Episode Bibliography:

American Student Union et al, “Banquet in Honor of Robert Morss Lovett on The Occasion of The Completion of his 45th Year at The University of Chicago” (Auspices, 1938)

Matthew Arnold, Civilization In The United States: First & Last Impressions of America (1888)

Matthew Arnold, Culture & Anarchy: An Essay in Political & Social Criticism (1869)

Michael Bérubé, The Employment of English: Theory, Jobs, & The Future of Literary Studies (NYU, 1997)

Sara Blair, Henry James & The Writing of Race & Nation (Cambridge UP, 1996)

Ian Bogost & Matt Seybold, “The Plausible End of Social Media, Downscaling, & The Latent Celebrity Mindset” The American Vandal Podcast (November 23, 2022)

Jim Casey & Sara Salter, “With, Without, & Even Still: Frederick Douglass, L’Union, and Editorship Studies” American Literature (Summer 2022)

Jim Casey, “We Need A Press – A Press of Our Own: The Black Press Beyond Abolition” Civil War History (Summer 2022)

Noam Chomsky, Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact & Propaganda (Warner, 1973)

Noam Chomsky, “U.S. To The World: Get Out of The Way” (1999) in Propaganda & The Public Mind (Haymarket, 2001)

Andrea Long Chu, Females (Verso, 2019)

Elizabeth Dilling, The Red Network: A ‘Who’s Who’ & Handbooks of Radicalism for Patriots (1934)

Jed Esty, The Future of Decline: Anglo-American Culture & Its Limits(Stanford UP, 2022)

Merve Emre, “The Illusion of The First Person” New York Review of Books (November 2022)

Merve Emre, Anna Kornbluh, & Matt Seybold, “Bootstrapping Across Dystopia: Autofiction, Autotheory, Autoeverything” The American Vandal Podcast (2.14.2022)

Benjamin Fagan, “Journalism” in Frederick Douglass in Context (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Michel Foucault, Madness: The Invention of An Idea (1954)

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexualty, Vol. 1 (1976)

Michel Foucault, “The Order of Discourse” (1970) in Untying the Text (Routledge, 1981)

Roland Greene, Post-Petrarchism: Origins & Innovations of The Western Lyric Sequence (Princeton UP, 1991)

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)

John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (U. Chicago, 1993) [Enlarged Edition, 2023]

John Guillory & Nicholas Dames, By The Book Discussion (U. Chicago, 5.19.2023)

David Hadju, Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn (Macmillan, 1997)

Stuart Hall, The Hard Road To Renewal: Thatcherism & The Crisis of The Left (Verso, 2021)

Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, “Where The Humanities Are Not In Crisis” Los Angeles Review of Books (June 13, 2023)

Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, Decolonizing American Spanish: Eurocentrism & Foreignness in The Imperial Ecosystem (U. Pitt, 2022)

Henry James, Literary Criticism Vol. 1 & 2 (Library of America, 1984)

Lisa Jardine, Erasmas, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print (Princeton UP, 1993)

Katie Kadue, “The End of The Star System” Chronicle of Higher Education (January 3, 2023)

Anna Kornbluh, Immediacy, or The Style of Too Late Capitalism (Verso, 2024)

F. O. Matthiessen, The American Renaissance: Art & Expression In The Age of Emerson & Whitman (Oxford UP, 1941)

Robert Morss Lovett, “Literature & Animal Faith” (1932) in The Writer & His Craft (U. Michigan, 1960)

Robert Morss Lovett, All Our Years (Viking, 1948)

Robert Morss Lovett, “Observations On The Teaching of English in Puerto Rico” Junta Editora de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (1946)

Robert Morss Lovett & William Vaughn Moody, A History of English Literature (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902)

Milton Mayer, “Portrait of a Dangerous Man” Harper’s (July 1946)

Toni Morrison, The Song of Solomon (Knopf, 1977)

Toni Morrison, Beloved (Knopf, 1987)

Christopher Newfield, “Post-Automated Luxury Criticism” MLA Newsletter (Winter 2022)

Christopher Newfield, The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities & How We Can Fix Them (Johns Hopkins UP, 2018)

Christopher Newfield, Unmaking The Public University: The Forty Year Assault On The Middle Class (Harvard UP, 2008)

Christopher Newfield, Ivy & Industry: Business & The Making of The American University, 1880-1980 (Duke UP, 2003)

Edward Nik-Khah & Philip Mirowski, The Knowledge We Have Lost In Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics (Oxford UP, 2017)

Edward Nik-Khah, “George Stigler, The Graduate School of Business, & The Pillars of The Chicago School” in Building Chicago Economics (Cambridge UP, 2011)

Edward Nik-Khah, “On Skinning a Cat” in Nine Lives of Neoliberalism (Verso, 2020)

John Crowe Ransom, “Criticism Inc.” The Virginia Quarterly Review 13.4 (Autumn 1937)

Bruce Robbins, Politics & Criticism: A Polemical Introduction (Stanford UP, 2022)

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

Bruce Robbins, “Foregrounding The Background” The English Journal (March 1998)

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

Edward Said, Orientalism (Pantheon, 1978)

Matt Seybold et al, “The Golden Age of The Working Critic,” The American Vandal Podcast (August 7, 2023)

Matt Seybold et al, “Hungover From The Bad Old Days of High Theory,” The American Vandal Podcast (August 14, 2023)

Matt Seybold et al, “Ponzi Austerity in The Age of Cultural Abundance” The American Vandal Podcast (August 21, 2023)

Matt Seybold et al, “Ponzi Austerity & The Monolingual University” The American Vandal Podcast (August 24, 2023)

Matt Seybold et al, “The Racist Interpretation Complex” The American Vandal Podcast (August 28, 2023)

Matt Seybold et al, “The Chicago Fight & ‘Criticism Inc.'” The American Vandal Podcast (September 5, 2023)

Matt Seybold, “Put The Reader Through Hell: In Memory of Toni Morrison, Twain Scholar” Center For Mark Twain Studies (August 6, 2019)

Richard Jean So, Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality & Postwar Fiction (Columbia UP, 2020)

Valerie Solanos, S.C.U.M. Manifesto (1967)

Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

Michael Tratner, Love & Money: A Literary History of Desires (Routledge, 2021)

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

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

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

Victor Villanueva, “Colonial Memory & The Crime of Rhetoric: Pedro Albizu Campos” College English (Summer 2009)

Walt Whitman, Manly Health & Training, Ed. Zachary Turpin (Regan, 2017)

Walt Whitman, Life & Adventures of Jack Engle, Ed. Zachary Turpin (U. Iowa, 2017)