Rachel Greeenwald Smith
Literary critic and scholar - she teaches at Saint Louis University - Rachel Greenwald Smith virtually joins us to discuss her new book, On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal (Graywolf Press). This book cogently follows her earlier Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism in parsing the ways cultural literary politics dovetail with political politics and vice versa.
“Literary critic Smith explores the intersection of compromise, politics, and aesthetic movements in this insightful collection. Most of the essays are grounded in personal experience ... Smith writes of attending the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration and feeling as though she had ‘compromised on [her] distrust of mainstream white feminism’ while still appreciating the solidarity she felt. This evolves into a critique of experimental ‘hybrid’ works of contemporary literature, which she views as ‘compromise aesthetics’ that maintains the status quo. In ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ she considers MFA programs as an exercise in compromise between the individualism inherent in art and the uniformity of an institution ... Greenwald Smith takes a commendably expansive view of the idea and practice of compromise, creating a nuanced look at a thorny subject. The result is a work of criticism as thoughtful as it is relevant.” - Publishers Weekly.
“Teeming with the anarchic energies of the DIY underground, yet wryly unsentimental about the complexities of complicity, Rachel Greenwald Smith’s On Compromise is post-punk in all the best senses of the term.”—Sara Marcus.