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The Division of Social Sciences Presents this semester’s Luncheon Seminar Series.

This talk features: David Newman, Visiting Professor in Sociology and Anthropology

Title: A sociology of second chances: The promise, practice, and price of starting over in everyday life.

Description: In this talk, I will examine the iconic presence of “second chances” in everyday life.  I will explore its role in religion, education, criminal justice, popular culture, intimacy, and health. I’ll inspect how and why this concept—both as a cultural aspiration and as a lived personal experience—has become part and parcel of individuals’ sense of self as well as our collective national identity.

In a nutshell, this talk is an intellectual investigation of an idea. But it’s not just any idea.  It’s one that has plopped itself down at the intersection of two powerful, yet seemingly incongruous cultural storylines: one that emphasizes the power and promise of redemption and another that emphasizes the durability of shame.  The second chance is the quintessential cultural paradox—a concept that is simultaneously ubiquitous and ambiguous; over-used and under-examined; simple in its rhetoric and complicated in its implementation.  It represents the pinnacle of our shared and individual hopes for redemption, while at the same time it reminds us of our harshest proscriptions and darkest suspicions about the intransigence of human nature.

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