The History of a Cultural Movement That Aspired to Transform America
This event includes a book signing
December 1, 2017
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes writer, historian, and Smith College professor DANIEL HOROWITZ for a discussion of his latest book, Happier?: The History of a Cultural Movement That Aspired to Transform America. This event is co-sponsored by Mass Humanities.
When a cultural movement that began to take shape in the mid-twentieth century erupted into mainstream American culture in the late 1990s, it brought to the fore the idea that it is as important to improve one's own sense of pleasure as it is to manage depression and anxiety. Cultural historian Daniel Horowitz's research reveals that this change happened in the context of key events. World War II, the Holocaust, post-war prosperity, the rise of counter-culture, the crises of the 1970s, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and the prime ministerships of Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron provided the important context for the development of the field today known as positive psychology.
Happier? provides the first history of the origins, development, and impact of the way Americans -- and now many around the world -- shifted from mental illness to well-being as they pondered the human condition. This change, which came about from the fusing of knowledge drawn from Eastern spiritual traditions, behavioral economics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and cognitive psychology, has been led by scholars and academic entrepreneurs, as they wrestled with the implications of political events and forces such as neoliberalism and cultural conservatism, and a public eager for self-improvement.
Linking the development of happiness studies and positive psychology with a broad series of social changes, including the emergence of new media and technologies like TED talks, blogs, websites, and neuroscience, as well as the role of evangelical ministers, Oprah Winfrey's enterprises, and funding from government agencies and private foundations, Horowitz highlights the transfer of specialized knowledge into popular arenas. Along the way he shows how marketing triumphed, transforming academic disciplines and spirituality into saleable products. Ultimately, Happier? illuminates how positive psychology, one of the most influential academic fields of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, infused American culture with captivating promises for a happier society.
"Daniel Horowitz has accomplished an impressive feat. Happier? is a thorough and judicious history of positive psychology—a movement both influential and controversial." —Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"Kudos to cultural historian Daniel Horowitz for comprehensively chronicling the emergence of positive psychology—'a cultural movement of tremendous reach and power.' Thanks to its impressive scholarship and lucid story-telling, Happier? is the go-to book for anyone seeking to understand the roots and fruits of modern happiness research." —David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College; author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Who is Happy—and Why
"Daniel Horowitz has done a Herculean job of compiling an exhaustive history of the conceptualization and study of happiness, from the early 1940s through the present day. His work will gently lead the casual reader interested in happiness into the issues raised by our assumptions about its role in a life well-lived, while experts are sure to discover new sources and ideas to enrich their own thinking." —Julie K. Norem, Margaret Hamm Professor of Psychology, Wellesley College; author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
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