Ponzi Austerity In The Age of Cultural Abundance (Criticism LTD, Episode #3)

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Resonate Recordings

How has the systemic defunding and deprofessionalizing of humanities academia impacted literary criticism? Why is there such a flourishing culture industry if demand for cultural education is supposedly declining? We look to megatrends like U.S. hegemony, organizations like the MLA (6:30), analogues like the Eurozone Debt Crisis (19:30), mechanisms of funding and distribution (28:00), and potential futures of disruption and declinism (1:01.30).

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

Episode Cast:

Jed Esty is the Vartan Gregorian Professor of English at University of Pennsylvania and the author of The Future of Decline (Stanford UP, 2022).

Anna Kornbluh is Professor of English at University of Illinois, Chicago and the author of The Order of Forms (U. Chicago, 2019) and Immediacy, or The Style of Too Late Capitalism, forthcoming from Verso. She is also the author of “Academe’s Coronavirus Shock Doctrine.”

Christopher Newfield is Director of Research at the Independent Social Research Foundation in London. He was formerly Distinguished Professor of English at UC-Santa Barbara and President of the Modern Language Association. He’s the author (or co-author) of numerous books in Critical University Studies, most recently The Great Mistake (Johns Hopkins UP, 2018) and Metrics That Matter (Johns Hopkins UP, 2023).

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). And the author of “Gordon Gee’s Draw Check Scheme” and “The End of Economics.”


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 “Elegy For Us All,” “Makram,” and “Song For Vic Juris.”

And his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale.”

Episode Bibliography:

Herman Beavers, Inés Vañó García, Matt Seybold, & Lauren Tilton, “Advocating For The Public Humanities” MLA Webinar In The Public Humanities (October 4, 2022)

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

Sarah Blackwood, Len Gutkin, & Joe Rezek, “The End of The English Major – Or is it?” The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 17, 2023)

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

Alicia Eler, “President Obama Pens Personal Apology To An Art Historian” Hyperallergic (February 18, 2014)

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

Merve Emre, Anna Kornbluh, & Matt Seybold, “Bootstrapping Across Dystopia: Autofiction, Autotheory, Autoeverything” The American Vandal Podcast (February 14, 2022)

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

Jed Esty, A Shrinking Island: Modernism & National Culture In England (Princeton UP, 2003)

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

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)

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

N. Katherine Hayles, Postprint: Books & Becoming Computational (Columbia UP, 2021)

Eric Hayot, Humanist Reason: A History, A Discipline, A Plan (Columbia UP, 2021)

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

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

Michal Kalecki, “An Essay On The Theory Of The Business Cycle” (1933)

John Maynard Keynes, General Theory of Employment, Interest, & Money (1935)

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

Anna Kornbluh, The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, & Social Space (U. Chicago, 2019)

Anna Kornbluh, “Academe’s Coronavirus Shock Doctrine” Chronicle of Higher Education (March 12, 2020)

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

Phil Mirowski, Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived The Financial Meltdown (Verso, 2013)

Christopher Newfield, et al. Metrics That Matter: Counting What’s Really Important To College Students (Johns Hopkins UP, 2023)

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

Christopher Newfield, “Research For All” MLA Newsletter (Spring 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)

John Quiggan, Zombie Economics (Princeton UP, 2012)

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

Joanna Robinson & Mallory Rubin, House of R Podcast (The Ringer Podcast Network)

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

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

Matt Seybold, “The End of Economics” Los Angeles Review of Books (July 3, 2017)

Matt Seybold, “Keynes & Keynesianism” The Routledge Companion To Literature & Economics (2018)

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

David Shunway, “The Star System in Literary Studies” PMLA 112.1 (January 1997)

Asheesh Kapur Siddique, “Does Humanities Research Still Matter?” Inside Higher Ed (August 15, 2023)

Adam Tooze, Crashed: How A Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (Penguin, 2019)

Yanis Varoufakis, Adults In The Room (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2017)

Yanis Varoufakis, “The Future of Capitalism” Robert Heilbroner Lecture at The New School (April 27, 2016)

Yanis Varoufakis, And The Weak Suffer What They Must: Europe’s Crisis & America’s Economic Future (Bold Typer, 2016)

Yanis Varoufakis, The Global Minotaur: America, The True Origins of the Financial Crisis, & The Future of The World Economy (Zed Books, 2011)