AN EVANSTON LITERARY FESTIVAL EVENT
At first glance, Generation Z (youth born after 1997) seems to be made up of anxious overachievers, hounded by Tiger Moms and constantly tracked on social media. One would think that competitors in the National Spelling Bee — the most popular brain sport in America — would be prime examples. But in her new bookBeeline, using spelling bees as a lens to examine the unique and diverse traits of Generation Z, Northwestern anthropologist Shalini Shankar argues that, far from being simply overstressed and overscheduled, Gen Z spelling bee competitors are learning crucial twenty-first-century skills from their high-powered lives, displaying a sophisticated understanding of self-promotion, self-direction, and social mobility. Shalini Shankar will be in conversation this evening with fellow Northwestern professor, Michelle N. Huang.
Shalini Shankar is Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about Generation Z’s New Path to Success, as well as Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers, and Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class and Success in Silicon Valley. She is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist whose ethnographic research focuses on youth, media, language use, race and ethnicity, and Asian diasporas. A Guggenheim fellow and National Science Foundation grant recipient, she is the mother of two Gen Z children.
Michelle N. Huang is an Assistant Professor of English and Asian American Studies at Northwestern, and has research and teaching interests in contemporary Asian American literature, posthumanism, and feminist science studies. Her areas of specialization include Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies, Asian American Literature, American: 20th Century, Gender Studies, and Science and Literature.