'Nickel and Dimed' Author Barbara Ehrenreich to Speak at Common Hour Jan. 27: Free Tickets Required

Story posted January 08, 2012

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the New York Times best seller Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001), will speak at the first Common Hour of the 2012 spring semester at 12:30 p.m., Friday, January 27, in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall.

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This special Common Hour, presented in conjunction with the Brunswick-Bowdoin Community Read, is open to the public free of charge.

Advance tickets are no longer available, but a limited number of tickets will be available at the door beginning at noon Friday, January 27, first come, first served. In addition, the adjacent Wish Theater will accommodate patrons who wish to view the lecture projected on screen. No tickets are required for Wish Theater seating.

Call the Office of Events and Summer Programs at 725-3433 for more information.

The Town of Brunswick and Bowdoin College have cosponsored the Community Read on the subject of class and economic differences. In addition to Ehrenreich's talk, the Community Read includes moderated discussion groups.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of 21 books, including another New York Times best seller, Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America (2010). She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Harpers, the Progressive and Time magazine, and has appeared on Oprah, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and The Joy Behar Show, to name a few.

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Before becoming an activist, Ehrenreich studied cell biology and physics, graduating with a degree in physics from Reed College in 1963 and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1968.

However, after completing her studies, Ehrenreich became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement and began to question whether she wanted to spend her life at the laboratory bench.

Ultimately, she chose to turn her attention to political and anti-war activism. She joined a tiny non-profit in New York City that advocated for better health care for the city's poor, where part of the job was to put out a monthly bulletin. Before she knew it, she found herself thoroughly enjoying doing investigative journalism.

With the birth of her first child in 1970, Ehrenreich underwent a political, as well as a personal, transformation. The prenatal care she received at a hospital clinic showed how even Ph.D.s were not immune from the vilest forms of sexism. Bit by bit, she became involved with the "women's health movement," advocating for better health care for women and greater access to health information than existed at that time.

Just a few years later, she quit her teaching job at the State University of New York–Old Westbury to become a full-time writer. Her work life settled into three tracks, which continue to this day: journalism, book-length projects, and activism on such issues as health care, peace, women's rights, and economic justice.

Each of Ehrenreich books changed her life in important and unexpected ways. Nickel and Dimed plunged her into the nascent living wage movement, traveling to union rallies, picket lines and organizing meetings around the country. She became comfortable addressing crowds through a bull horn, with no notes at all, got arrested at a protest with Yale workers, joined picket lines with hotel workers in Santa Monica and janitors in Miami, leafleted for a living wage in Charlottesville and marched with ACORN in Michigan.

Curiosity continues to pull Ehrenreich in different directions. She recently published Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, a scholarly book about festivities and ecstatic rituals.

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