2012 Beckman Lecture

Author and urban planning expert James Howard Kunstler will discuss the way our society addresses the future, the subject of his new book.




4:30 pm


Phipps Auditorium of Macmillan Hall

General Info

The 2012 Wells College Beckman Lecture will be delivered by James Howard Kunstler. Kunstler’s talk, titled for his new book "Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation," will be given on the Wells College campus, followed by a book signing and reception. The public is cordially invited to attend this entertaining, thought-provoking event.

Kunstler’s spirited and multifarious talk will address the topics of his book, comparing perceptions and realities of the problems facing our society, such as the “lust for ever more comfort, pleasure and distraction,” “fidelity to the cults of technology and limitless growth,” exceptionalism, disengagement, the misapplied efforts of political parties, the financial sector, fossil fuel addiction and environmental tragedies. Paired with a thorough critique of greater culture, he offers “well-earned and reasoned hope” to the individual: “Demonstrate to yourself that you are a competent person who can understand the signals that reality is sending to you... and act intelligently in response.”

Kunstler has written eight novels and contributed numerous articles and essays to publications including Rolling Stone, the New York Times and Atlantic Monthly. His 1993 work “The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Manmade Landscape” details his focus on urban planning and the ways that a landscape of structures built for short-term consumer purposes—from parking lots and mega-malls to housing tracts and decaying cities—are affecting the perceptions and hopes of the vast amount of Americans who spend each day living and working in these environments.

Kunstler has lectured extensively about urban design, energy issues and new economies, speaking to the TED Conference, the American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the International Council of Shopping Centers, the National Association of Science and Technology as well as at numerous colleges and universities including Yale, MIT, Harvard, Cornell, University of Illinois, DePaul, Texas A & M, West Point and Rutgers University. He has received positive reviews from a variety of sources including the Christian Science Monitor, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times and the Boston Globe.  

More information about James Howard Kunstler and his work can be found at www.kunstler.com and www.lyceumagency.com.

Wells College’s Beckman Lecture Fund was established in 1952 by three Wells alumnae.  The Beckman sisters endowed the fund “with sincere appreciation of the enduring character of a Wells education.” They desired that Beckman lecturers “be distinguished for creative work and the ability to teach. The lecturer should be an original thinker, an artist in his or her field who can communicate easily and with enthusiasm.”