Interview with Jeffrey Di Leo


Jeffrey R. Di Leo is the editor and publisher of the American Book Review and is a professor of English and philosophy as well as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Houston – Victoria. Di Leo is also the Executive Director of the Society for Critical Exchange and is a member of the Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly.

Howl: When you came up with the style of journalism, symplokē, what did you have in mind for the reader?

Di Leo: A style that balances accessibility with rigor. Theory and philosophy often tends to be written in a style that is very difficult for the general reader to master; our goal in symplokē was to publish theory and philosophy with a higher degree of public access; a more accessible style. While not every article is in this style, there are more per issue in our journal than in most theory and philosophy journals.

Howl: What inspired the style of journalism symplokē?

Di Leo: The movement to increase the range of audience of the journal. The more “journalistic” style has increased our audience and the use of material from our journal in the classroom. Inspired by the non-accessible style of many other theory journals twenty-years ago.

Howl: As an editor what do you find to a be common style of writing among authors?

Di Leo: There are two: those who write in a very dry academic style (lots of footnotes, references, subheadings, subsections, foreign languages quoted, etc.) with arguments that are difficult to discern; and those who do the opposite.

Howl: Did you always know that this is what you wanted to be when you were in high school?

Di Leo: Did not even think about editing until I became a graduate student–and admired the editors on the faculty and the students who worked with them. This led me to found the journal symplokē as a graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington. I read a lot in high school but it never crossed my mind that I would or could become an editor and writer.

Howl: What advice would you give to young authors aspiring to follow in your foot steps?

Di Leo: Read and write a little bit every day; be eclectic in your reading; think of libraries and other sources of the word as heaven on earth.

Howl: What is your writing/editing style like?

Di Leo: For editing, I aim for “must read” issues of the journal; focuses that capture the attention of readers and are useful to them; also like to publish a range of material, not just arguments and styles of writing that I favor; for writing style, I am increasing writing in a clearer and more polemical style. Locate a strong and interesting topic, and then work out a clear and interesting thesis about it. My most recent book, CORPORATE HUMANITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION, uses this style. It is a polemic written in a clear accessible style. You may not agree with what I say, but you surely know what I have to say!

Great questions! Thanks for asking!!


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