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Dan SinykinAssisant Professor

Biography

Dan Sinykin is an assistant professor of English at Emory University. His first book, American Literature and the Long Downturn, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Apocalypse shapes the experience of millions of Americans. Not because they face imminent cataclysm, however true this is, but because apocalypse is a story they tell themselves. It offers a way out of an otherwise irredeemably unjust world. And it is old. Since its origins among Jewish writers in the first centuries BCE, apocalypse has recurred as a tempting and available form through which to express a sense of hopelessness. Why has it appeared with such force in the US now?

To find the meaning of our apocalyptic times we need to look at the economics of the last five decades, from the end of the postwar boom. After historian Robert Brenner, Sinykin calls this the long downturn. The economics of the long downturn worked interfered with the most intimate experiences of everyday life, and inspired the fear that there would be no tomorrow. This fear takes the form of what Sinykin calls neoliberal apocalypse.

The varieties neoliberal apocalypse—horror at the nation’s commitment to a racist, exclusionary economic system; resentment about threats to white supremacy; apprehension that the nation has unleashed a violence that will consume it; claustrophobia within the limited scripts of neoliberalism; suffocation under the weight of debt—together form the discordant chord that hums under American life in the twenty-first century.

Sinykin's second book, The Conglomerate Era, is under contract with Columbia University Press. How has the conglomeration of publishing changed literature? The scope of conglomeration poses a methodological challenge, and to answer it Sinykin enlists computational analysis alongside more traditional literary critical techniques of attending to form and historical context, including archival research. Sinykin has built corpora on publishers, prizewinning and bestselling American literature, and reviews of tens of thousands of American novels toward writing large scale analyses of the field and revealing how money and power in publishing have shaped the state of contemporary literature.