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February 13, 2008

PROFESSOR TAKES STAND ‘AGAINST HAPPINESS’ Eric G. Wilson, professor of English at Wake Forest, is available to discuss his new book, “Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy,” which has generated strong interest nationwide and abroad since its publication last month by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.  Book reviews and/or author interviews have appeared in Newsweek, Publishers Weekly, The Economist, on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” in the New York Post, the Raleigh News & Observer, the Winnipeg Free Press and the Vancouver Sun.  “We are eradicating a major cultural force, the muse behind much art and poetry and music.  We are annihilating melancholia,” Wilson wrote in an essay based on his book that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 18.  Wilson looks back nearly 100 years to the 1819 “Ode to Melancholy” by John Keats and finds literary precedent for his concern that American culture’s overemphasis on happiness and the increasing tendency to “cure” mild depression or even “the blues” through pharmaceutical means will breed a blandness and complacency with the status quo that is antithetical to creativity and ultimately to true joy.

Contact:  Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.


The ninth annual Chinese New Year Festival at Wake Forest will celebrate the “Year of the Rat” from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 16 in Reynolds Gym, Room 201.  The event is free and open to the public.   The festival celebrates the most important holiday for the Chinese and is a popular family event that has drawn more than 2,000 attendees.  It features demonstrations, performances and hands-on activities that highlight various aspects of Chinese culture.  Among the activities this year, participants can create clay or paper rats, have their names translated into Chinese, have their pictures taken while wearing a traditional Chinese costume (for a small fee), play with traditional Chinese toys and learn to use chopsticks.  From 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., special performances will be held, including folk dances, martial arts, musical performances, a mock traditional Chinese wedding, and the traditional Lion Dance, which the Chinese believe brings good luck.  Wake Forest’s festival was initiated in 2000 by Cristina Yu, a Wake Forest librarian.  The 2008 Chinese New Year officially starts with the first new moon of the New Year Feb. 7 and ends on the full moon 15 days later on Feb. 22.

Contact:  Pam Barrett at or (336) 758-5237.

HELMS SCHOLAR TO GIVE LECTURE AT WAKE FOREST William A. Link, Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida, will present a lecture titled “Jesse Helms and Modern Conservatism” at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 in Room 102 at Wake Forest’s Scales Fine Arts Center.  The event, sponsored by the department of history, is free and open to the public.  Link will discuss how the controversial former U.S. senator from North Carolina amassed power, influenced the rise of the political New Right and exported his conservative southern values into U.S. foreign policy.  From 4 to 5 p.m. prior to his talk, Link will sign copies of his new book, “Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism,” at the College Bookstore on the ground floor of Taylor Residence Hall.  Link is the author of numerous books and articles on American history, including “The Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880 to 1930” and “Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia.”  He holds a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a doctorate from the University of Virginia.

Contact:  Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.

COLLEGE STUDENTS AND POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT —Concerned about the lack of political participation by young voters, Katy Harriger, professor and chair of political science, and professor emerita of communication Jill McMillan, began studying ways to improve young people’s engagement in democratic citizenship.   The result is a new book, “Speaking of Politics.”   They found that having a chance to talk in depth about issues empowers young people to become active in the political process.  “Speaking of Politics” is based on a four-year study on the role deliberative dialogue has on preparing college students for democratic citizenship.  At the beginning of the study, Harriger and McMillan found that freshmen were turned off by politics and felt more attuned to community service.  As Harriger stated, “they feel they can't change federal policy to help end world hunger, but they can help feed the family down the street.”  Harriger and McMillan found that participation in the study helped students realize their own power to influence issues and the democratic process.  After four years, students involved in the study were more involved in traditional political venues, more attuned to the responsibilities of citizenship, more analytical and critical of political processes, more confident in their ability to make a difference, more inclined to speak and think communally, and more imaginative in recognizing possibilities for deliberation and its broader applications.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393.

NYSE CHIEF ECONOMIST TO DISCUSS 'TOMORROW'S STOCK MARKET' — As chief economist of the New York Stock Exchange, Paul Bennett is responsible for analytical support for the exchange’s various business and public-policy activities.  He is speaking as part of the Babcock Leadership Series at 2 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Law Auditorium (Room 1312) of the Worrell Professional Center.

Contact:  Lisa Snedeker, or (336) 758-3615.

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