Here are a few interesting articles and pieces we found around the web this week. If you come across something that other intellectual historians might enjoy, please let us know in the comments section.
“Europe Slams Its Gates” (Foreign Policy).
Carmen Maria Machado, “Inventory” (LitHub)
Corey Robin, “Triumph of the Shill” (n+1)
Max O’Connell, “Man on the Outside” (rogerebert.com)
Nell Irvin Painter, “Long Divisions” (TNR)
Hilary Davies, “Things Hidden” (TLS)
A while back, I posted a selection of links that revolved around the question of creative practice, and the binary of “amateur” vs. “professional.” Now that we’re officially in the heart of award season, it seems an opportune moment to continue thinking about the institutions and structures that scaffold these practices.
First, a pair of essays by Alexis Clements (in the LARB), truthful and brutal: “What are the Chances? Success in the Arts in the 21st Century” (2016) and “The Secret Recipe for Success in the Arts” (2017).
Next, Viet Thanh Nguyen on the writer’s workshop (NY Times). Nguyen’s piece reminds me of the collection edited by Chad Harbach (of n+1), MFA vs. NYC. The collection generated a lot of commentary. Loren Glass’s review, “The Creative Precariat,” is another critical perspective on the role of the MFA in adjudicating between those who get to be writers, and those who remain outside of this charmed circle. In his 2016 Artnews essay, Daniel S. Palmer looked at the economic forces and structures driving “the hyper-professionalization of the emerging artist.”
There is push-back against this world, against this particular vision of what it means to be a professional artist/writer/”cultural producer.” Some champion the concept of the amateur (e.g. Miya Tokumitsu, in Frieze, “Completely Unprofessional”; Andrew Berardini, in Momus, “How to be an Unprofessional Artist”) for why should only certified professionals claim access to art making or creativity? Others, weary from waiting at the gate, have chosen to make their own opportunities. In this 2010 interview with Bomb, Danielle Dutton discusses why she founded Dorothy, A Publishing Project. Nick Kokonas presents a different perspective on publishing in his post for Medium, “Why We are Self-Publishing the Aviary Cookbook–Lessons from the Alinea book.”
And there is also the world of the Instagram poet. Here is a NYT profile of Rupi Kaur, and a New Yorker profile of Reuben Holmes.
I leave you with a quote from one who knew all about the perils and pleasures of trying to make it in the “art world”–Carol Rama: “If I really am so good, then I don’t get why I had to starve for so long.”
Rebecca Brenner, “How American Racism Shaped Nazism,” (Black Perspectives)
Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Fate of the Earth,” (New Yorker)
Keenan Norris, “To Be Continued, or Who Lost the Civil War?” (LARB)
Sophie Robinson, “Not The Marrying Type,” (Vida)
Jenny Turner, “Literary Friction,” (LRB)
James C. Scott “Take your pick” (LRB)
Lisa Appignanesi “Freud’s Clay Feet” (NYRB)
Sarah Sentilles “Colonial Postcards and Women as Props for War-Making” (New Yorker)
Timothy Aubry, “The Paradoxical Politics of Literary Criticism” (New Republic)
Andrew Bacevich, “Schlesinger and the Decline of Liberalism” (Boston Review)
Jonathan Zimmerman, “What’s so bad about Ken Burns?” (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Eric C. Miller, “India in the American Imagination: An Interview with Michael J. Altman” (Religion and Politics)