Sharon O’Dair


Neoliberalism and the Slighting of the Literary


The OED records four different but related uses of “slighting” as a noun:  the acts of leveling; of razing or demolishing; of treating with disdain, disregard, or indifference; and of glossing over.  All originate in the first half of the 17th century—happily for me as a Shakespearean—and all, save the third, the OED describes as obsolete.  Yet all, it seems to me, accurately describe what is happening to the literary and its requirements of craft and judgment under the regime of neoliberalism and its handmaiden the computer algorithm.  Such developments, I will urge, suggest deleterious consequences for people, communities, and societies.