Public University, Public Values | The Politics of Truth: A Way Forward

Seminar | November 29 | 5-7 p.m. | 220 Stephens Hall

 Arlie R. Hochschild, Professor Emerita of Sociology, UC Berkeley; Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Professor of History Emeritus, UC Berkeley

 Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

Arlie R. Hochschild, Professor Emerita of Sociology, UC Berkeley, and Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Professor of History Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Public University, Public Values is a new series of talks and conversations co-organized by BCSR and the Townsend Center for the Humanities. The series is prompted by the recognition that the current moment of crisis in the liberal democracies of Europe and North America is, among other things, a crisis of value. The “political” focus that has shaped the humanities and much of the social sciences over the past several decades has made possible an extraordinary body of scholarship and teaching. Yet it has often left unexplored the moral terrain on which the current crisis has unfolded. The aim of the series is to open up new perspectives on how the humanities and the social sciences do, or don’t, help us develop our own moral and ethical vocabularies. Implicit in these conversations would be how we, as scholars and teachers, do or don’t include moral and ethical concerns in our teaching and—no less important—how these concerns might be placed in dialogue with the political emphases that have guided much of our work in the past few decades as a way of reaffirming the dynamism and importance of humanistic study for the larger social fabric.

Details of Professor Hochschild’s and Professor Laqueur’s discussion are forthcoming.

Arlie R. Hochschild is Professor Emerita of Sociology at UC Berkeley. Her most recent research focuses on the rise of the American right–the topic of her latest book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (The New Press, September 2016), a finalist for the National Book Award. Based on intensive interviews of Tea Party enthusiasts in Louisiana, conducted over the last five years and focusing on emotions, she tries to scale an “empathy wall” to learn how to see, think and feel as they do. What, she asks, do members of the Tea Party––or anyone else––want to feel about the nation and its leaders? Hochschild traces this desire to what she calls their “deep story:” a feels-as-if story of their difficult struggle for the American Dream. Hidden beneath the right-wing hostility to almost all government intervention, she argues, lies an anguishing loss of honor, alienation and engagement in a hidden social class war.

Thomas W. Laqueur is Helen Fawcett Professor of History Emeritus at UC Berkeley. His books include Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation, and Religion and Respectability: Sunday Schools and Working Class Culture, 1780–1850, and The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains. He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books.


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