The central role of rhetorically shaped language in the determination of events has always been a central concern of the humanities. A major strand in literature has always concerned itself with the agency--and its emancipative capacities--associated with access to, and mastery of, literary tradition and its present trajectory. Experimental writers and publishers attempt to extend and re-make old forms and to create new ones as needed in order to bring "news" of the present to themselves and to readers in contemporary language adequate to the history we are living. Increasingly, in the age of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Goldman Sachs, language seems to be "pasted on" retrospectively to determinations of wealth creation whose violent, for-profit extraction is engineered with algorithms based on market monetizations, globally coordinated and maximized as returns on invested capital, without accountability to a general welfare. With the increasing pre-emption of the determinative role of non-monetized deliberative and imaginative language, what role does the poet, novelist, essayist, and memoirist, and their not-for-profit publishers have on influencing events, including political ones?
A poet and three novelists, all of whom work in book publishing, will discuss how they understand and pursue political agency through both their creative and work lives in the midst of the relentless monetization of all value--including within independent literary presses--that underpins today's financialized global political economy.