OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Speaker at OSU to Critique Starbucks and the Illusion of Public Space

10/12/2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Bryant Simon, a professor of history at Temple University, will deliver the first American Culture & Politics lecture at Oregon State University.

His talk, “Consuming Third Place: Starbucks and Illusion of Public Space,” begins at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Memorial Union lounge. It is free and open to the public.

Borrowing from the popular sociologist Ray Oldenburg, Starbucks bills itself as a “third space” – a place between work and home for respite, socializing, and community building. Based on a 1,000 hours of watching and listening at different Starbucks stores across the world, Simon’s talk will explore how people use the stores and how the company creates the appearance, without the substance,- of a public space and what this means for our attempts to create connections and community.

During the past three years, Simon has visited more than 400 Starbucks in eight countries and is working on a book to be published by Bloomsbury. This is not, however, just a study of Starbucks, but an exploration of American life in the 21st century.

Simon is the director of the American Studies Program at Temple. He is the author of “Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America (2004)” and co-editor of “Jumpin’ Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (2000).” His research on Atlantic City has earned awards from the Organization of American Historians, Urban History Association, and the New Jersey Historical Commission.

For information about the series go to http://oregonstate.edu/cla/history/lectures/.