Is it possible to organize departments of literature, culture, or humanistic study without norms, or around “the general norm that there are no norms,” as Meredith Ramirez Talusan suggests in a provocative Arcade comment?


Some recent conversations on Arcade have gotten me thinking about midcentury America, or rather our idea of the midcentury as a privileged moment of literary production, consumption, and promise.


Continuing my progressive descent into vulgar materialism (I use the words "progressive" and "vulgar" in positive senses!), I’d like to develop the line of thinking of my previous post, "Reading under Neoliberalism." I will use the questions Joel Burges asks in a comment to guide my reflections here.


This post is a response to a comment made by Andrew Goldstone in a comments thread on Joshua Landy's fascinating Arcade blog post, "Human Minds, Literary Texts, and CD Players."


I've been rereading Amanda Anderson's fascinating and cogent collection of essays, The Way We Argue Now.


I remember hearing once that FBI agents who had wiretaps on various mafia operations noted a change in the speaking style of the gangsters they were monitoring after Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather was released in 1972.  The real gangsters began imitating the patois of their film counterparts, thoroughly identifying with their brutal ethos. 


Amir Eshel has been composing a series of fascinating posts on his Arcade blog, which I presume are related to his current book project, on life after the End of History, the return of liberalism as an object of scholarly interest, and recent trends in contemporary literature.


It's a great honor to have been invited to blog here at Arcade.

For my first posting, let me introduce myself.

My name is Lee Konstantinou.  I recently received my Ph.D. from the English department at Stanford, and I'm currently a postdoctoral fellow with Stanford's Program in Writing and Rhetoric. 


Lee Konstantinou's picture
Lee Konstantinou
Associate Professor of English, University of Maryland, College Park
Lee Konstantinou studies twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, and has current research interests in contemporary fiction, the legacy of postmodernism, comics, science fiction, popular culture, as well as cultural sociology. He wrote the novel Pop Apocalypse (Ecoo/HarperCollins, 2009) and the literary history Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction (Harvard University Press, 2016). With Samuel Cohen, he co-edited The Legacy of David Foster Wallace (University of Iowa Press, 2012). He is working on various projects, including "The Cartoon Art: Comics in the Age of Mass High Culture," which argues that the elevation of comics since the 1980s is an important case study that can help us revisit -- and reconfigure -- the mass culture debate after the end of postmodernism. He is Senior Humanities editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.