How did Lauren Berlant die? Readers mourn 'Cruel Optimism' author's death at 64

How did Lauren Berlant die? Readers mourn 'Cruel Optimism' author's death at 64
Lauren Berlant (Twitter @AFSJournal)

Lauren Berlant, the author of 'Cruel Optimism' has died at the age of 64. AFS Journal and Duke University Press announced the news of the author's demise on Twitter on June 28. Berlant preferred to use the pronouns 'they/them'.

Lauren Berlant taught in the English department at the University of Chicago from 1984. They received their PhD from Cornel University. Six months into 2021 and we have witnessed the demise of quite a few literary greats like journalist Dick Stolley, author Janet Malcolm and 'Dawson's Creek' writer Heidi Ferrer. The reason of Berlant's death is not yet known.


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Berlant is the author of a national sentimentality trilogy beginning with 'The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life' (1991), which looks at the relation between modes of belonging mediated by the state and the law, modes of belonging mediated by the aesthetic, and modes that grow from within the everyday life of social relations. Berlant wrote and taught issues of intimacy and belonging in popular culture, in relation to the history and fantasy of citizenship. Their most famous work was 'Cruel Optimism' which tries to show, as described by the author themselves, 'a relation which exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing'. It was published in 2011 by Duke University Press.

'Could not be more heartbroken'

Literary enthusiasts swarmed Twitter with condoning messages for Lauren Berlant, remembering their theories and paying ode to them. One fan wrote, "RIP Lauren Berlant. A thinker I cited in an essay yesterday, a writer I re-read last week and one whom I’m preparing to teach next week. And whom I plan to teach the week after that and every week until I can’t." Another tweeted, "Could not be more heartbroken to learn that Lauren Berlant, inimitable critical theorist & luminary, has died. I don't know any details as I didn't know her well. But I will miss her terribly and will look to her work in the effort to fill that hole in my heart and mind." One user commented, "Lauren Berlant treated everyone and every conversation with such interest and care. Lauren had a wonderful sense of humor and I loved making Lauren laugh. We die as we lived -- and Lauren did both fully and with great affect. Fitting you should close out this month dear one."

One tweet read, "Yesterday, I added Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism to the booklist for my comp exam on queer worldmaking. Today, I opened Twitter to learn they passed away. What an enormous loss. Wishing peace to those grieving them." Another user wrote, "RIP Lauren Berlant. Honored to have had the opportunity to take a short seminar with them nine years ago. They were brilliant, *hilarious,* and brought a sense of playfulness and care that really tempered the anxiety of grad school. Plus, my first intro to affect theory." One fan commented, "Cruel Optimism was probably the most formative book I read in my first year of grad school and I still recommend it all the time. Very sad to hear Lauren Berlant has passed, a truly impressive and genuinely original theorist."







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