Critical Futures 1: Criticism after Social Media, with Caleb Crain, Naomi Fry, Ben Ratliff, and Eric Banks (SEAPORT)

Critical Futures is a series of panels cosponsored with the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, focusing on the critical landscape today across a range of media, particularly the contemporary challenges changing the face of reviewing.

Likes, dislikes; tricking the algorithm; 140/280 characters: social media has long whittled away at how books, music, film, and other media are consumed and appreciated. This is no less true for criticism and the critical essay. How, and how dramatically, has social media transformed what critics do and how their work is received in the world—both in expected an unexpected ways?


Caleb Crain has written for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, n+1, and The New York Times Book Review. He is the author of two novels, including, most recently, Overthrow (Viking, 2019), which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His critical work American Sympathy: Men, Friendship, and Literature in the New Nation (Yale University Press), appeared in 2001. He was born in Texas, raised in Massachusetts, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Naomi Fry became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 2018. Her writing on popular culture, books, and art has appeared in the Times Book Review, the Times Magazine, Artforum, and n+1, among other publications. She attended Tel Aviv University, holds a master’s degree in English from Johns Hopkins University, and has taught at New York University and the Rhode Island School of Design. She grew up in Israel, and now lives in Brooklyn.

Ben Ratliff has written about pop, jazz, traditional and experimental music for publications including Granta, Slate, Artforum, Wire, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, and The New York Times, where he worked as a music critic for twenty years. His subjects are popular music, listening, journalism, creative nonfiction, and the practice and history of cultural criticism. He is the author of four books: Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016); The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (St. Martin's/Griffin, 2009); Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (Picador, 2007, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in Criticism); and Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings (Times Books, 2002).

Eric Banks is the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. Banks is the past president of the National Book Critics Circle. He was formerly editor in chief of Bookforum, which he relaunched in 2003, and a former senior editor of Artforum. His essays and reviews have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers.