Vocation/Profession: A Conversation with Dan Sinykin (Emory University)
November 20 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
A Discussion and Workshop with Dan Sinykin
Assistant Professor of English, Emory University
Editor, Contemporaries at Post45
Friday Nov. 20 – Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020
In the past decade or so, we have seen the rise to prominence of invigorating, public-facing academic-adjacent venues such as the LA Review of Books, Public Books, n+1, The Baffler, Jacobin, the short-lived but influential Commune, and plenty more besides. This flourishing of public venues presents us with opportunities to rethink our roles as public intellectuals.
As academics, we have faced profound hurdles to our profession for a long time now: the expulsion of new generations of scholars from academia by universities’ sustained allegiance to austerity and anti-labor; the gatekeeping of traditional academic publishing; the academic “job market” and its destructive impacts on solidarity among intellectual laborers; the retreat of the professoriate to an exclusive space of contemplative distance from politics; and the competitive impulse in scholarship to speak first and loudest, to write the take of takes. Writing against calls “against theory,” Fredric Jameson once wrote, “We feel very strongly that we are being told to stop doing something, that new taboos whose motivation we cannot grasp are being erected with passionate energy and conviction.” For many of us, we feel very strongly that we are being prevented from even beginning doing something. SCT@UF thus seeks new ways of maintaining a fidelity to our scholarly “vocations” while acknowledging the constraints, limitations, and prohibitions of “our profession.” Recognizing the possibilities and causes for hope opened up by these newer public venues and conversations, we seek to envision new intellectually, professionally, and personally and socially fulfilling ways of pursuing the vocation of critical theory in whatever “professional” form that might take in our contemporary moment.
Dan Sinykin (Emory) will join the SCT@UF for two events. On Friday, Nov. 20, Dr. Sinykin will discuss his forthcoming book, The Conglomerate Era (Columbia UP). Beginning in the late 1970s, authors worried that conglomerate pressure to prioritize the bottom line would end good books. What if, like other arts, books could be subsidized by grants and private philanthropy? Over the next twenty-five years, nonprofit publishing transformed the US literary landscape and made space for ethnic literatures, translations, and literary experimentation. Sinykin shows how these two ways of structuring publishers’ finances created a split within literature, yielding two distinct modes of American writing after 1980, which moreover would have profound significance for the rise of multiculturalism.
On Saturday, Nov. 21, Dr. Sinykin will host a workshop for those interested in public facing writing. How do we translate academic work into public conversations? How do we adapt academic writing to the very different audiences and timescales of public writing? How can such venues make the work of critical theory more inclusive?
This conversation is open to all graduate students, faculty, and other members of our communities. An RSVP will be required to join the meeting: [link]
Participants are invited to read beforehand Sinykin and Edwin Roland’s “Against Conglomeration: Nonprofits and American Literature after 1980” and Sinykin’s “How Capitalism Changed American Literature” at Public Books.
For more information, please contact Mitch R. Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Sinykin is assistant professor of English at Emory University. His first book, American Literature and the Long Downturn: Neoliberal Apocalypse, was published in 2020 by Oxford University Press. The Conglomerate Era is under contract at Columbia University Press. In addition to editing Contemporaries at Post45, Sinykin is also a prolific public writer. His work appears in Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, Dissent, Avidly, Guernica, and Salon, among others.