Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, and Blood Rites, among others. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. She is the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Current Interest and ALA Notable Books for Nonfiction. Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a bustling mining town. She studied physics at Reed College, and earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. Rather than going into laboratory work, she got involved in activism, and soon devoted herself to writing her innovative journalism. She lives and works in Florida.
It is a truism that everyone seeks happiness, but public manifestations of it have not always been free of recrimination. Colonial regimes have defined spectacles as an inherently "primitive" act and elders harrumph at youthful exultation. Social critic and bestselling author Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) teases out the many incarnations of sanctioned public revelry, starting with the protofeminist oreibasia, or Dionysian winter dance, in antiquity, and from there covering trance, ancient mystery cults and carnival, right up to the rock and roll and sports-related mass celebrations of our own day. "Why is so little left" of such rituals, she asks, bemoaning the "loss of ecstatic pleasure." Ehrenreich necessarily delineates the repressive reactions to such ecstasy by the forces of so-called "civilization," reasonably positing that rituals of joy are nearly as innate as the quest for food and shelter. Complicating Ehrenreich's schema is her own politicized judgment, dismissing what she sees as the debased celebrations of sporting events while writing approvingly of the 1960s "happenings" of her own youth and the inevitable street theater that accompanies any modern mass protest, yet all but ignoring the Burning Man festival in Nevada and tut-tutting ravers' reliance on artificial ecstasy. That aside, Ehrenreich writes with grace and clarity in a fascinating, wide-ranging and generous account. (Jan. 10) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From Dionysian festivities to danced religion in the Middle Ages to sports, carnivals, and rock'n'roll, humans like to get together and party, claims the author of Blood Rites-which tracked our tendency to get together and fight. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A fabulous book on carnival and ecstasy, skillfully arranged and brilliantly explained." --Robert Farris Thompson, author of Tango: The Art History of Love "Barbara Ehrenreich shows how and why people celebrate together, and equally what causes us to fear celebration. Here is the other side of ritual, whose dark side she explored in Blood Rites. She ranges in time from the earliest festivals drawn on cave walls to modern football crowds; she finds that festivities and ecstatic rituals have been a way to address personal ills like melancholy and shame, social ills as extreme as those faced by American slaves. Dancing in the Streets is itself a celebration of language -- clear, funny, unpredictable. This is a truly original book." --Richard Sennett, author of The Culture of the New Capitalism