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Release: Aug. 31, 2001

Hunnicutt to discuss work-obsessed Americans' fear of leisure Sept. 8

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- In the early part of the 20th century, historians and others who had observed the shortening of the work day over time predicted that by the 1980s Americans would be working an average of two hours per day. Instead, at the end of the century, Americans were putting in some of the longest work hours in history. What happened?

Benjamin Hunnicutt, a University of Iowa professor of health, leisure, and sport studies, will attempt to answer that question during his presentation, "Work, More Work, Work Everlasting!" on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall. The discussion is the first in the Saturday Scholars series, presented by the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"Americans have seen no increase in leisure time since the Great Depression," Hunnicutt says. "I think many people are afraid of unstructured leisure time because they have allowed themselves to become defined by their work. Work is where people find meaning and identity now—it's like a new religion."

Hunnicutt will offer his theories on how this phenomenon developed and then invite questions and discussion about the possibilities for reversing the trend.

In a preview of his Sept. 8 presentation, Hunnicutt will be a guest on "Iowa Talks," WSUI AM- 910, on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 10 a.m.

Upcoming lectures in the Saturday Scholars series include:

Sept. 22 -- "Iowa Physicians in the Depression," Susan Lawrence, associate professor of history

Oct. 6 -- "Do Infant Rats Cry? And Why Should We Care?" Mark Blumberg, professor of psychology

Oct. 20 -- "The Civility Trap: America's Nostalgia for a More Civil Time," Melissa Deem, assistant professor of rhetoric and women's studies

Nov. 3 -- A reading from the novel "Carry Me Across the Water," Ethan Canin, professor of English

Nov. 17 -- "Lessons on Empowerment: Listening to the Voices of Entrepreneurial Women," Salome Raheim, director of the UI School of Social Work

All presentations will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest. Each session will last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session. Refreshments will be served.

Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2610.