Shirl Yang

Photo by John Zich

Shirl Yang is a Humanities Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D in English from the University of Chicago in 2021. Her book project uncovers a rich archive of withdrawal–shirking, avoiding, and withholding–in postwar American literature and film to argue for the centrality of non-participation to contemporary economic life. While notions of “engaged withdrawal” feature in feminist anti-work, autonomist, and anarchist traditions, there remains to be a sustained study of these forms of withdrawal from a literary and aesthetic perspective. Turning to marginalized economic subjects including slackers in the office novel, perpetual renters in public housing films, and counter-consumption rhetoric in “New Sincerity” writing, this project seeks to demonstrate how, far from being a terminal mode of disassociation in response to state and corporate disinvestment, withdrawal involves the ongoing management of disaffection and hope, reticence and resistance, disengagement and relationality.

Research Interests: Affect theory and psychoanalysis, critical finance studies, history of racial capitalism, history of economics as a discipline, history of neoliberalism, contemporary American literature, film and television, comedy

2022-23 Classes: Media Aesthetics; Unfinished Business: Revenge and Narrative Form;  Comedy From the Margins