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Neilson Prof to Discuss Women, Relationships and Now, Voyager

Lauren Berlant, this year’s William Allan Neilson Professor in the Women’s Studies Program, has established an international reputation during the past ten years for her in-depth cultural analyses of the social and historical construction of emotions and attachments, from their intimate relations to their national identity, particularly for women.

Through her numerous writings and presentations, Berlant has become renowned as one of the leading scholars of cultural studies and feminist theory. Her most recent books are The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997) and Our Monica, Our Selves: Clinton, Scandal, and Affairs of State (2001).

Berlant will give three lectures this fall as part of her Neilson Professorship, under the title “Public Feelings: Love, Compassion, and Indifference in the U.S.” All three lectures will take place in the Leo Weinstein Auditorium in Wright Hall at 4:30 p.m. and each will be followed by a reception in Neilson Browsing Room.

On Thursday, September 18, Berlant will present her first lecture, “Remembering Love, Forgetting Everything Else: Now, Voyager,” in which she will explore some of the compromises women and-less often-men make in order to secure or remain in love relationships. The lecture culls from the 1942 film Now, Voyager, which starred Bette Davis as a painfully introverted woman who undergoes a dramatic transformation and begins a relationship with a married man.

Berlant’s second lecture, “Capitalism and Compassion,” will take place on Monday, October 20; and her final talk, “Why Be Normal? Globalization, Psychoanalysis, and Intimacy,” will be delivered on Monday, November 17.

Berlant, a professor of English at the University of Chicago, has garnered numerous awards for her scholarly contributions to gender studies and the humanities. She received the 1999 Society of American Publishers award for Best Special Issue of a magazine or journal, which became her book Intimacy (2001). And in 1993, she won the Norman Foerster Award for the year’s best essay in American literature for “The Queen of America Goes to Washington City (Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, Anita Hill),” on which she later based a book of the same title.

The Neilson Professorship, which commemorates President William Allan Neilson, was established in 1927. Berlant joins past Neilson professors such as Alfred Kazin (English, 1954–55), Eudora Welty (English, 1961–62), Charles Hamilton (government, 1988–89) and Romila Thapar (religion and biblical literature, 1998–99).

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