Media @ McGill

Beaverbrook Annual Lecture: Barbara Ehrenreich


Update: A video recording of Ehrenreich's lecture is now available for viewing online.

Barbara Ehrenreich, the outspoken feminist, journalist, activist and writer, will give the Media@McGill Beaverbrook Annual Lecture on Thursday, 18 November at 6:30 p.m.

This free, public lecture will be held at the Stewart Biology Building, Room S 1/4, ave. du 1205 Dr. Penfield, Montreal.
(Please note that, due to road construction, automobile access is difficult and parking is limited). (map)

Title: Reinforcing the culture of optimism

Barbara Ehrenreich will be talking about the ideology of positive thinking, how the media has helped spread it, and how it has undermined America. "We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking," says Ehrenreich. In North America, people have often tended to be optimistic about solving major problems, but has this optimism helped or hurt them? Can positive thinking actually get in the way of finding solutions, preventing people from accurate and critical examination of a crisis? Barbara Ehrenreich will address that question of optimism: whether, somehow, that thinking frames unhappiness, and critical thought and speech, as pathological and counter-productive. Ehrenreich's most recent book is Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America (published by Metropolitan Books in October, 2009), a myth busting exploration of how America's irrational optimism and the refusal to consider negative outcomes contributed directly to the current economic crisis.

Biography: Journalist, historian, and social critic Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of fifteen books. In 2001, Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (Metropolitan Books) became a New York Times bestseller, and has since sold over one million copies. Nickel and Dimed, a trenchant examination of working-class poverty that chronicles Ehrenreich's own attempt to live on minimum wage, is now required reading at more than 600 American colleges and universities. In 2005, Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch, also a New York Times bestseller, exposed the ever more prevalent phenomenon of white-collar unemployment. In 2008, Metropolitan Books published This Land Is Their Land, a collection of her published columns. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, Ehrenreich has been a columnist at the New York Times and Time magazine. In 2004, she received the Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation Prize for Creative Citizenship, given annually to an American who challenges the status quo "through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, socially responsible work of significance."

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