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Prof to address criticisms of ‘Nanny State’ and impact on consumers

CONTACT: Joseph Schneider, 515-271-2158, joseph.schneider@drake.edu

Tory Olson, 515-271-1834, tory.olson@drake.edu

The fall season of the Humanities Center Colloquium series will continue with a presentation by Megan Brown, assistant professor of English, on “Somehow We All Survived: The Ideology of the U.S. Backlash Against Risk Management,” from 3:30-5 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 9. The colloquium series, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Medbury Honors Lounge, Medbury Hall, 2730 Forest Ave.

In her presentation, Brown will discuss shifts in attitude toward risk management, which she loosely defines as a collection of preventative measures attempting to shield people from the widespread consequences of industrial development.


“I argue that recent years have seen an increasing backlash against risk management and the enforcers — both official and unofficial — of the values of caution, preparedness and vigilance,” said Brown. “Right-wing pundits sneer at the so-called ‘nanny state,’ and grass-roots organizations spearhead protests against state and local laws that they feel to be oppressive.”

Brown will focus on three major examples: smoking regulations, bans on foods containing or cooked in trans fat and the recent recall of toys contaminated with lead paint.

“I am interested in this backlash because it often perpetuates problematic notions of personal freedom, champions self-defeating stoicism and absolves corporations from responsibility for the consequences of their actions,” Brown said.

The fall Humanities Center Colloquium series will conclude on Friday, Nov. 30, with a presentation on “Hannah Arendt’s Concept of Natality as Political Agency,” by Joan Faber McAlister, assistant professor of rhetoric.