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That ’70s Talk: Stayin’ Alive with Jefferson Cowie

You’ve heard the old phrase, “If you remember the ’70s you weren’t there.” Or was that the ’60s? I can’t remember.

No matter: Cornell History Professor Jefferson Cowie is heading to Buffalo to help you remember that decade of wide ties, lapels, platform shoes, Nixon, and John Travolta (wait, he’s still around).  Most folks who experienced (and remember) the ’70s have done their best to put it out of their minds.  But on Wednesday (May 11), at the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center, Cowie will help you get in touch with — and even embrace — that woebegone, misbegotten decade.

The Cornell Club of Greater Buffalo, in cooperation with the Buffalo ILR Center, Talking Leaves Books, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and Cornell University, would like to cordially invite you, Buffalo Rising reader, to join them next Wednesday for Cowie’s free public lecture.  It will be on:

A Nation Without Class: The 1970s and the Origins of Our Own Time
featuring a multimedia presentation of music and film from 70s culture

    * When: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
    * Time: 7:00 PM
    * Where: Burchfield Penney Art Center Auditorium
      1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY

ROFL_MAO.jpgThose ’70s talks — translation, please?

Jefferson Cowie, Associate Professor of history at Cornell University, has been called “one of our most commanding interpreters of recent American experience” by The Nation magazine.

His first book, Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy Year Quest for Cheap Labor, won the Taft Prize for the best book in labor history in 2000. More recently, Cowie is the author of Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, which won the Organization of American Historians’ 2011 Merle Curti Award for best book in social and intellectual history, and the United Association for Labor Education’s 2011 Best Book Award. Stayin’ Alive was also one of four finalists for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize for the best book in all of nonfiction, sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.

Cowiebookaward_1.jpgNoted Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote that:

Jefferson Cowie’s Stayin’ Alive will long stand as the finest and most sophisticated portrait of politics and culture in the American 1970s, and also as a model for how to talk about both political and cultural transformations without shortchanging either. Ranging from Brooklyn to Lordstown, Ohio and from “Saturday Night Fever” to “Born to Run,” Cowie traces how “a republic of anxiety overtook a republic of security” in the United States. Combining empathy with passion, Cowie makes understanding his goal and condescension his enemy. Americans living in 2011 will understand themselves far better because of Cowie’s brilliant excavation of the 1970s.

A passionate and dedicated educator, Cowie is the recipient of several teaching awards. He is also the House Professor and Dean of Cornell’s William Keeton House, a campus residential complex dedicated to uniting living and learning, where he resides with his family and over three hundred undergraduates.

Following the lecture, Cowie will be signing copies of his award winning Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, courtesy of Talking Leaves Books.

The mission of the Cornell Club of Greater Buffalo is, “engaging area alumni, students, parents, and friends of Cornell with each other, the University, and Buffalo civic life.”  After the book signing at Talking Leaves, all Cornellians are invited to a post-talk reception at Coles.

CowieFlyer.pngSo Wednesday evening — hop in the Datsun, top off the tank with < $1.00 gas, pop in a Bee Gees 8-track, and cruise on over to the Burchfield Penney Arts Center — for Cowie’s channelling of pre-Reagan America.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( www.blurb.com ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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