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The Mass Media

Noam Chomsky to Talk on Campus

Prominent intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky is scheduled to speak at an event on April 14 in the Campus Center ballroom. 

Prominent intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky is scheduled to speak at an event on April 14 in the Campus Center ballroom. 

Intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky is scheduled to talk at the University of Massachusetts Boston on Tuesday, April 14, in an event sponsored by numerous university groups and integrated with a student essay contest.

The event, which is titled “The Common Good: Assaults and Resistance,” will begin at 3 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. The format will consist of a reception, lecture, and time set aside for audience questions. 

“Professor Chomsky wanted a flexible title to discuss current issues, even unanticipated ones,” says chief organizer Professor Joseph Ramsey. 

“Knowing the world, it’s likely issues could flare up.”

Chomsky is a prominent intellectual, initially recognized in the 50s for linguistics scholarship and overlapping work in the cognitive sciences. His influence is seen in fields as disparate as computer science, political science, and music theory. He currently holds the title of Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has worked and taught for 60 years. 

Chomsky is similarly well known for his political activism and his criticisms of U.S. foreign relations and neoliberal capitalism. “Manufacturing Consent,” co-written with Edward Herman in 1988, argues that the U.S. news media acts as a propaganda system furthering capitalist ideology. 

The political views of Chomsky are in line with anarcho-syndicalism, which champions a democracy led by the working class and lacking the government of state. He is seen as a cultural hero of “the left,” supporting the Occupy and other similar social movements.  

Integrated with the event on April 14 is an essay contest open to students. The prompt will require contestants to engage the guest speaker’s lecture. Top writers will receive gift card prizes and the opportunity to have their essay published, says Ramsey. 

“The reception is to maximize the amount of discussion. That is also the rationale for the essay contest, to make this more than simply a one-off, more than [just] a celebrity visit.”

The event has been jointly sponsored by the English, Political Science, Applied Linguistics, and American Studies departments, as well as the MFA Creative Writing Program, Applied Linguistics Student Association, and William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences.  

“Chomksy is a very busy and much in-demand speaker. I was fortunate enough to get him to return my email,” laughs Ramsey, who first met the scholar in a work context.

He contacted Chomsky last summer in hopes that a sustained space for critical engagement at the UMass Boston could be created out of a guest lecture.