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What You Don’t Know About ‘Cruel Optimism’ Author: Lauren Berlant Biography, Wiki, Age, Net Worth, Family, Facebook, Instagram and More

Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant

Who was Lauren Berlant?

Lauren Berlant was an American writer who was widely known as the author of ‘Cruel Optimism’. AFS Journal and Duke University Press announced the news of the author’s demise at the age of 64 on Twitter on June 28. Berlant preferred to use the pronouns ‘they/them’.

Prof. Berlant was a world-renowned scholar who examined what sentimentality means in American culture for gender, sexuality and politics.

How old was Lauren Berlant?

Lauren Berlant was 64 years old at the time of death.

Lauren Berlant New Yorker

Berlant was born on Oct. 31, 1957, in Philadelphia and grew up in suburban Penn Valley. They earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in 1979, before moving to Cornell University, where they earned a master’s in English in 1983 and a Ph.D. in English in 1985.

Berlant arrived at UChicago in 1984, just before completing their dissertation.

Berlant’s many awards included the Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Modern Language Association and the René Wallek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association for Cruel Optimism. UChicago honored them with the Norman Maclean Faculty Award from the University of Chicago, a Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring and a Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Berlant also was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lauren Berlant Husband, Family

Berlant is survived by partner Ian Horswill, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Northwestern University.

She is also survived by a brother, Jeffrey Berlant; sister, Valerie (née Berlant) Davis, and spouse, Richard Davis; by five nephews and nieces: Zachary Davis, Mara Davis, Cynthia (née Berlant) Grell, Alison Berlant and Michael Berlant; and their friends beyond counting.

Lauren Berlant Dead At 64

Remembered by colleagues for their immense pedagogical curiosity, their perceptive interpretations of American literature, politics and culture and their collaborative prowess, Berlant gave readers the tools for understanding the complicated interactions between self and society.

Lauren Berlant Cause of Death

Lauren died on June 28 of a rare form of cancer.

A beloved mentor and esteemed colleague who spent nearly four decades at the University of Chicago, Berlant was 63 years old at the time of death.

Lauren Berlant Obituary

The George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, Berlant was a leading theorist whose impact stretched across disciplinary lines. They sought to define the emotions that compel people to create forms of life that support a sense of belonging.

Lauren Berlant Cruel Optimism

Berlant’s award-winning book, Cruel Optimism (2011), analyzed the devices that affect everyday human connections, and how the culturally conditioned material regard for the perfect life compels human beings to act against their own best interests.

Beloved as a mentor, Berlant championed generations of students and colleagues.

One was Laurie Shannon, PhD’96, who was a student in Berlant’s first-class at UChicago and remained friends with Berlant for more than 37 years. Berlant took special satisfaction in working with others. In a 2019 interview, Berlant described the collaboration as a “super-intensified version of teaching.”

Lauren Berlant Books

Berlant’s career-defining entry to national sentimentality and affect theory began through the study of historical novels during their doctoral studies at Cornell University. At that time, their scholarship focused on how a historical novel produces a story that moves between history and subjectivity.

Berlant recognized how structural, functional, and political norms synergize and shape subjectivity.

Other notable books Berlant wrote include The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2004); The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life (1991); and The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997). Their forthcoming book from Duke University Press is titled On the Inconvenience of Other People.

Lauren Berlant Quotes

Berlant’s enthusiasm for nurturing young minds at UChicago extended to the support of junior faculty and a commitment to “creating intellectual spaces,” said UChicago colleague Elaine Hadley. “Lauren wanted to know what young people were thinking and learn from them, which empowered them.

“Lauren Berlant had always confounded the supposed dichotomy between the academy and activism by demonstrating the degree to which ideas matter to activists and artists.”

—Prof. Deborah Nelson
“Lauren wanted to know what young people were thinking and learn from them, which empowered them.”
—Prof. Elaine Hadley

Literary enthusiasts swarmed Twitter with condoning messages for Lauren Berlant, remembering their theories and paying ode to them.

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