The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Jefferson Book Club Meeting: Harrison Bergeron

Thu, April 22, 2010 | Batts 5.108

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

"It was 2081 and everyone was finally equal." These words begin Kurt Vonnegut's classic short story Harrison Bergeron.  


A question faced by much of the West's nations has long been where to draw the line between the protection of every citizen's right to equal opportunity under the law, and the government's role in proactively enforcing equality by direct action, or what some would call "social engineering."
 
In the dystopic future presented in Vonnegut's story, the government operates without any restraint in its efforts to physically enforce equality on all citizens. The intelligent are made to wear devices that distract their thinking, the strong must wear contraptions to weigh them down, and the beautiful must wear masks to hide their appearances. No person is allowed to take an "unfair advantage" of his faculties. But as the enforcers of this policy learn, the human spirit is not something that can be subjugated or destroyed.  
 
Join us for a discussion of this short story, in addition to a viewing of a 2009 short film adaptation, "2081."

The story can be found here: http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

And a trailer of the film can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi6TTNKdgSk

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