Mon 3.19.12 | Fleecing the Poor

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If you don't have the time or inclination to do your taxes, many national tax-preparation outlets are waiting to help. Or maybe "help" isn't the appropriate word. According to Gary Rivlin, instant tax-prep chains, payday lenders, check-cashing operations, and a host of other outfits are preying on -- and making billions of dollars off of -- the desperately poor. (Encore presentation.)

Wed 3.14.12 | Fear, Risk, and Breast Cancer

Robert A. Aronowitz, Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society Cambridge U. Press, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breast cancer may be the most feared disease that women face: one out of every eight women is expected to get the illness in her lifetime. But how much of that fear is produced not by biology but society? Historian and medical doctor Robert Aronowitz has written a social history of breast cancer from the 19th century to the present. He argues that overzealous screening -- detecting cells that would never advance into full-blown cancer -- has fueled a sense of risk that serves neither patients nor the medical understanding of the disease.

Tues 3.13.12 | Alternate Futures

Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times Verso, 2011

Loren Goldner's website

 

 

 

 

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Scientists and entrepreneurs are working on technologies that would transform -- and are already transforming -- our bodies and human life in ways we might barely recognize. What are the implications of such ideas and practices, ethically and otherwise? Philosopher Slavoj Žižek discusses the perils of transhumanism and biogenetics. Taking a different approach to the future, radical writer Loren Goldner speaks about the lineages of left communism.

Mon 3.12.12 | Imagined Community?

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The term "community" is everywhere. It is used by those in power -- witness the "business community" -- and those with no power. But what does it actually mean? Should people on the left continue to claim it? Or is it too flawed a concept, with real political dangers attached? Anthropologist Gerald Creed talks about the history of "the community," the explosion of the term since the early 1990s, and why it remains so ubiquitous. (Encore presentation.)

Wed 3.07.12 | Money, Finance, and the Power of Symbols

David Hawkes, "Faust Among the Witches: Towards An Ethics of Representation" Early Modern Culture

David Hawkes, Ideology Routledge, 2003 (revised 2d ed.)

David Hawkes, The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

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At the heart of the global economy, a regime dominated by lending and finance, is a symbol we call money. What does this say about who we are and how we work, and what ethical judgments can and should be made about money, wage labor, and capital investment? David Hawkes draws connections among money, human labor-time, usury, and other cultures' beliefs in magic.

Tues 3.06.12 | Youth Violence, Violence Against Youth

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If you were to go off the mainstream media, you would think youth violence is on the rise. But is it? East Asian scholar Adrienne Carey Hurley has taken a careful look at the demonization of young people in both the United States and Japan. She discusses the less noted but widespread abuse that children and youth are subjected to. Hurley also talks about mass protests by students in Québec, as well as the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

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