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Passionate Times:
What Sociology Has to Say About Emotion, Ideology, Identity and Social Trends
Lynn Appleton

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: These lectures focus on sociological and social-psychological research on irrationality and emotion, asking what it can tell us about contemporary American society and politics. Attendees will learn how to apply fundamental principles of social science to current events – and, if they are willing, will practice keeping a sense of humor in times that seem grim. We will look at political and social theorists who anticipated this moment in history, using their work to understand how the values of The Enlightenment have run aground on the realities of being human – and, as well, have been frustrated by the economic and social consequences of neo-liberalism and globalization.

Because sociology links the micro-level of everyday life to the macro-level of social trends and change, this lecture series will also look at how individuals struggle to balance emotion and reason: how they respond to the smog of information swirling around them, the modern imperative of happiness, and the weight of choices and responsibility. Participants will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how the politics of everyday life translates into the formal politics of elections and legislation. They will develop a deeper understanding of how humans’ emotional lives translate into social change and trends. Finally, they will know more about how to investigate the often-hidden emotional forces that shape their lives and those of the people around them. Trigger warning: yes, there will be snarkiness – (and a fair degree of sarcasm, much of it directed at an assortment of political figures).

LECTURES:
1. We Didn't See it Coming: How social science research helps us to understand blind spots, the power of assumptions and the grip of groupthink.
2. On Education and Reason: The illusion that minds are changed, truth will triumph, and debates matter. From the Enlightenment to Entertainment Weekly.
3. "Fake News" and the New Media: What do we know and how do we know it? The internet, streaming, and smartphones. The Walking Dead and Donald Trump’s voters.
4. The End of Expertise, the Decline of Authority: Climate change, anti-vaccine activism, the press as “the enemy of the people,” and the rise of the “alternative fact.”
5. Personality and its Disorders: A world of narcissists, authoritarians, and the paranoid. What do we mean when we say “normal?"
6. The Necessity of Enemies and the Usefulness of Contempt: Social status and disdain. Finding someone to blame. Resentment and reaction. From the dinner party to the political party.
7. “Part of Something Larger than Myself”: Nationalism, the “alt right,” and the identity politics of the late 20th century. “Find your tribe.”
8. Art in Passionate Times: The aesthetic and the marketplace. A field guide to the art world (with an emphasis on Art Basel, Miami, December 7-10, 2017).
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION:  Dr. Lynn Appleton (PhD University of Chicago) is Professor Emerita in the Department of Sociology  at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Her research has been in a diverse range of fields but has always focused on questions of power. Currently, she is working on questions of medicalization and social control.

F482
Time: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Date: Thursdays, October 5, 12, 19, 26; November 2, 9, 16, 30
Location: Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium, Boca Raton Campus
Fees: Member - $100
Non-member - $130
Cash will no longer be accepted as payment for lectures.

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