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A brilliant, savagely funny attack on the cult of positive thinking - Ehrenreich's most commercial book since Nickel and Dimed.
Not exercising as much as you should? Counting your caloriesin your sleep? Feeling ashamed for not being happier? You may be avictim of the wellness syndrome. In this ground-breaking new book, Carl Cederström andAndré Spicer argue that the ever-present pressure to maximizeour wellness has started to work against us, making us feel worseand provoking us to withdraw into ourselves. The Wellness Syndromefollows health freaks who go to extremes to find the perfect diet,corporate athletes who start the day with a dance party, and theself-trackers who monitor everything, including their own toilethabits. This is a world where feeling good has becomeindistinguishable from being good. Visions of social change havebeen reduced to dreams of individual transformation, politicaldebate has been replaced by insipid moralising, and scientificevidence has been traded for new-age delusions. A lively andhumorous diagnosis of the cult of wellness, this book is anindispensable guide for everyone suspicious of our relentless questto be happier and healthier.
Using a performance studies lens, this book is a study of performance in the post-9/11 context of the so-called war on terror. It analyzes conventional theatre, political protest, performance art and other sites of performance to unpack the ways in which meaning has been made in the contemporary global sociopolitical environment.
A sharp-witted knockdown of America's love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism Americans are a "positive" people—cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity. In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to "prosper" you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of "positive psychology" and the "science of happiness." Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes—like mortgage defaults—contributed directly to the current economic crisis. With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America's penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out "negative" thoughts. On a national level, it's brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best—poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.
The Literary Agenda is a series of short polemical monographs about the importance of literature and of reading in the wider world and about the state of literary education inside schools and universities. The category of 'the literary' has always been contentious. What is clear, however, is how increasingly it is dismissed or is unrecognised as a way of thinking or an arena for thought. It is sceptically challenged from within, for example, by the sometimes rival claims of cultural history, contextualized explanation, or media studies. It is shaken from without by even greater pressures: by economic exigency and the severe social attitudes that can follow from it; by technological change that may leave the traditional forms of serious human communication looking merely antiquated. For just these reasons this is the right time for renewal, to start reinvigorated work into the meaning and value of literary reading. Reading and the Reader offers a defence of reading serious literature, where reading offers a place for inner contemplation, emotion, imagination, and thought-experiment through the energising booster-rocket of literature. It is argued that literature creates a holding-ground in which a dense sense of experience is registered. Such a place is vital to human well-being in the following respects: in sustaining the ability to use and not just suffer one's experience; to be able to think one's thoughts, even those that are customarily unadmitted or felt as anomalous or unworthy; to find room for a realm of speculation in between religions and secularization, in between literature and life. Reading and the Reader, one of the first volumes in the Literary Agenda series, exists to defend the value of reading, to narrow the gaps between the way writers and readers think, to bring literary thinking into the ordinary thinking of the world - especially at a time when the arts and humanities are under some threat. Literature is useful in terms of deep human needs. It offers a form of time-travel - across ages, countries, different minds - that provides alternatives to any conventional worldview.

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