How Lauren Berlant's Cultural Criticism Predicted the Trumping of Politics

Lauren Berlant photographed by Whitten Sabbatini for The New Yorker

The followin was first published in The New Yorker online on March 18, 2019.

In October, 2011, the literary scholar and cultural theorist Lauren Berlant published “Cruel Optimism,” a meditation on our attachment to dreams that we know are destined to be dashed. Berlant had taught in the English Department at the University of Chicago since 1984. She had established herself as a skilled interpreter of film and literature, starting out with a series of influential, interlinked books that she called her “national sentimentality trilogy.” A sense of national identity, these books argued, wasn’t so much a set of conscious decisions that we make as it was a set of compulsions—attachments and identifications—that we feel.

Author and Photographer Teju Cole to Deliver a Series of Talks at UChicago

Teju Cole by Stephanie Mitchell

Teju Cole feels a sense of responsibility in coming to the University of Chicago this spring for the 2019 Berlin Family Lectures. Not only does the acclaimed author, photographer, and critic appreciate the opportunity to speak, he relishes the sustained, serious engagement he’ll receive from the audience and UChicago community. Beginning on April 8 and continuing on April 15 and 22, Cole will explore what it means to be a sensing being through experience, epiphany and ethics. Registration for the series, which will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Logan Center Performance Hall, is free and open to the public. His first lecture centered on experience can be viewed now

How Jewish Refuges Found a Wartime Home in Shanghai

Karin Zacharias (right) and her brother Hans Peter Zacharias, pictured in 1941 on the day of his bar mitzvah in Shanghai.

Asst. Prof. Rachel DeWoskin has visited Shanghai every summer for nearly a decade, walking along streets that more than 18,000 Jewish refugees once called home. Her years of research culminated in the January publication of Someday We Will Fly, her fictionalized account of a young Jewish girl fleeing war-torn Poland. In writing her novel, DeWoskin also relied in part on the family possessions of UChicago staff psychiatrist Jacqueline Pardo, whose German mother Karin Pardo (née Zacharias) lived in Shanghai as a child. A selection of those objects and photographs are displayed on the third floor of Regenstein Library.

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