Dear Prudence: Anxiety, Influence, and Advice-Giving with Daniel M. Lavery

BISR Central
68 Jay Street, #425
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Originating in the mass media of the late 17th century, the first advice columns satisfied the intellectual curiosity of a burgeoning reading public, providing answers to queries concerning state-of-the-art science and political affairs—earnestly, informatively, and not without humor. As the middle classes grew more confident, and self-conscious, the columns were soon filled with queries and conundrums more intimate than intellectual—sex and romance, family and work life. What sort of pleasure—from the prurient to the speculative—does the public take in the anxieties and desires, the ethical conflicts and (funny, touching, outrageous) situational details that compel a person to seek anonymous advice? What sort of power does the pseudonymous advice-giver actually have—progressive, regressive—to shape the common ground of what is advisable, reasonable, and prudent?

Join us, Tuesday, June 27th, as we welcome Daniel M. Lavery, formerly of Slate’s “Dear Prudence” advice column, on the occasion of a newly published collection of “greatest hits” from his tenure there. BISR’s Abby Kluchin, Rebecca Ariel Porte, and Kali Handelman will sit down with Daniel to explore the uses and affordances of the advice column, the role and persona of the advice-giver, and the varieties of human experience, from the sacred to the profane, that the advice column offers up to view. With roots in capitalist modernity and the private family, what’s the relation of the advice column to middle-class mores, their congealment or expansion? We’ll cap the evening off with a round of advice givingplease feel free to email any thorny questions to, or enter them into our Google form, for the judicious consideration of our esteemed panel. All advice-seekers shall remain anonymous. 

The event is free with a suggested $5 donation. Doors open at 6:45; the event begins at 7pm. The event will also livestream to the BISR Facebook page. Whether you’ll attend virtually or in-person, please RSVP below. Dear Prudence: Liberating Lessons from’s Beloved Advice Column is available for purchase here

Event Schedule

Tuesday, 7:00pm ET
June 27, 2023


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