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January 27, 2005

Lecture: Americans’ Guilt Over Consumer Spending Not Shared Abroad

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Cultural historian Daniel Horowitz will discuss the range of thinking about consumerism, “From Immorality of Spending to Symbolic Exchange,” at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, in Seeyle Hall, Room 106.

Horowitz, the Mary Huggins Gamble Professor of American Studies, will compare U.S. writings about the immorality of consumerism with international works that consider commercial culture a source of pleasure and a system of symbolic exchange. The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of Smith’s chaired professor lecture series.

Within his lecture, Horowitz will draw upon ideas from two of his books about domestic consumerism, “Morality of Spending” and “The Anxieties of Affluence: Critiques of American Consumer Culture, 1939–1979,” as well as works by a group of international writers, including Marshall McLuhan’s “Mechanical Bride,” the writing of London critics who were members of the Independent Group, Roland Barthes’ “Mythologies” and Richard Hoggart’s “Uses of Literacy.”

Horowitz’ books have garnered numerous awards. “Anxieties of Affluence” was recently selected among Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice, a publication of the American Library Association that reviews higher education books and media. Published last year by the University of Massachusetts Press, “Anxieties of Affluence” examines the evolution of American attitudes toward consumerism and materialism in the decades following World War II.

Additionally, Horowitz’ work on Betty Friedan, Smith Class of 1942, earned him the Constance Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association and the annual book prize from the North East Popular Culture Association.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Yale University, Horowitz earned his doctorate in history from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard and a number of other colleges and universities before coming to Smith in 1989. A former director of Smith’s American Studies Program, Horowitz has won fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.

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