Ryan Ruby on Literary Criticism and the Internet

Ryan Ruby in Vinduet:

On December 1, 2021, I tweeted: «Earlier this year I argued that we are living in a golden age of popular criticism. To prove my point … here’s the tip of the iceberg: my list of 21 of the best essays, reviews, and criticism published in 2021.»

The thread of 21 essays that followed were warmly received, which came as something of a surprise since any optimism about contemporary cultural production tends to be regarded as suspect, even controversial. If you spend any time in the Anglophone public sphere, you’ll know that a deep pessimism is instead the prevailing mood. Whether the issue is the stagnation of fees for freelance writers at rates first offered by magazines a century ago, the decline of the average book advance, the conglomeration of publishing houses, the endangerment of the species of the midlist author, and the role of Amazon as a distributor and publisher; whether it’s the extremely precarious financial position of little magazines, the collapse of book reviews sections in newspapers, and the oceanic supply of free content (i.e. published writing that is not paid for by the consumer), some of which is no longer even being generated by humans; whether it’s the state of the PhD job market, the casualization of academic labor, the drying up of tenure lines, the downsizing or wholesale closure of humanities departments; or whether it’s the cost of living crises and the collapse of economic protections in the societies in which these workers are embedded, this pessimism is not entirely unjustified.

Yet against the vulgar logic that suggests the quality of economic arrangements determines the possibility of quality work, a great deal of evidence points the other way.

More here.