Lauren Berlant, Critic of the American Dream, Is Dead at 63

Professor Berlant’s book “Cruel Optimism” provided a popular term to describe false hopes in an increasingly unequal nation.

By Alex Traub

Lauren Berlant, an influential scholar best known for exploring the effects on people of declining economic prospects and fraying social bonds in the 2011 book “Cruel Optimism,” which spoke to the frustrations of Americans reeling from the financial crisis of the late 2000s, died on Monday at 63 in a hospice facility in Chicago.

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