In Memoriam: Lauren Berlant, 1957-2021

Lauren Berlant, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the department of English language and literature at the University of Chicago died on June 28. Dr. Berlant was 63 years old and had suffered from cancer.

Professor Berlant’s award-winning book, Cruel Optimism (Duke University Press, 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.

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

Professor Berlant was born on October 31, 1957, in Philadelphia and grew up in suburban Penn Valley. A graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, Dr. Berlant earned a master’s degree in English in 1983 and a Ph.D. in English in 1985 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Berlant joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1984.

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