The Chronicle Review introduced their recent via via Zoom
Zoom collection “Endgame: Can literary studies
survive?” with the bold statement, “The academic
study of literature is no longer on the verge of field
collapse. It’s in the midst of it.” The sentiments here
expressed seem far less bold and more obvious
in the midst of the unfolding effects COVID-19 is
having on employment and funding in academia
generally and American literary studies in particular.
Various interrelated forces could be and have been
identified as having contributed to this moment,
such as changes in university funding sources,
privatization of research, externalization of revenue,
the increasing debt burden for students, threats
to academic freedom, the shifting demands of
professionalization, and the decreasing public
valuation of humanistic study. This webinar
approaches the demise of the profession by
considering again what it means to continue in this
work now, as well as the whys and hows of studying
American literature and culture at this moment.
What shape might American literary and cultural
studies take in order to contest developments that
have left the discipline on the brink of collapse?