By Sianne Ngai


O Books
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover art by Janet Zweig
Design by Sianne Ngai
Edition, Year
First Edition, 1998
Out of Print

Drawing from mass media, critical theory, Western literature, and other sources, Sianne Ngai’s Criteria is a poetic-prosaic foray into the amusing and stymying knots of capitalism’s representational landscape.

Sianne Ngai
Sianne Ngai (1971) is an American cultural theorist, literary critic, and feminist scholar. Her work is most broadly concerned with the analysis of aesthetic forms and judgments specific to capitalism. She is Professor of English at University of ... Read More

Criteria contains all the excitement of a first utopian reading of critical theory and philosophy while maintaining a level of fun that gives it a youthful, almost pop edge. Despite walking a minefield of faux jargon and partial allusion, this debut remains remarkably poised in its restraint, its subtle tonal shifts and its devotion to a fairly extreme mode of poetry.

Publishers Weekly


Praise for Criteria

Sianne Ngai’s writings use, among others, devices of analogy and repetition to investigate philosophical questions about language. The pressures she puts on her conventional use of devices yields a third, and somewhat more enigmatic, trick of language, which I would call “migration.” Like birds of formal gestures, Ngai’s poetry and prose patterns, through distancing, questions about valued categories of knowledge. Relationships of science, language, and the body are part and parcel to the patterned movements of her texts, which please this reader above all because of their lucid sensibility, skepticism, and wit.

— Carla Harryman

In her first collection, Sianne Ngai deftly deploys the language of capital to phenomenalize the betrayals and failures of both words and commodities. As the lines in these poems repeat and fold back on themselves, a narrative of loss & groundlessness accrues. This heady yet plaintive verse alternately builds and demolishes its own rhetorical architectures to emerge with a new “criteria” for poetic entitlement.

— Peter Gizzi

Please rendezvous with Criteria. Its bodily captivation “of inside things” makes for unconcludable detective work, an enabling disautomatism of multiple borders and clues to scramble “the with” or “puncture the enough.” If we “say head must be the about,” we’re in for sympathetic debunking: —”or get to know your inner poodle.” Foolproof pronouns blur into affidavits of density, careful cavortings “solicited in between” by “microcosmic intercom,” rolodexing both protagonist and the space for our guilty presupposings—of “abashed’s luxe” with “night in arrears.”

— Bruce Andrews

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