©Deirdre Nansen McCloskey | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL


Talks by Deirdre McCloskey,
Public Relations Material, Photos

Deirdre McCloskey welcomes major speaking engagements on the topics described here. The more directly the assignment fits her current writing — the history of the bourgeois era, statistical significance, humanomics, gender crossing, the state of economic science — the better for all concerned.
        Near Chicago she is flexible. Beyond Chicago she is limited to exceptional assignments: honorary degrees, keynoting, endowed lecture series bearing on her current research. "Distant conferences are a delight," she says, "but to compensate for the opportunity cost they need to entail honor or learning proportional to the distance traveled!" Business class is required.
        She is interested in people-seeing and conversation, not sight-seeing and leisure. Although her specialty is speaking to academic audiences, she is willing to give more popular lectures to general, non-academic audiences - preferably large and interested audiences. (She requests a lapel microphone; taping and recording is permitted.) Her fees are moderate, especially for cash-strapped organizations such as graduate-student associations and state universities. On visits to campuses she prefers to be kept busy in as many departments as can be arranged, and especially in faculty seminars: economics, history, English, communications, statistics, philosophy, gender studies, political science, philosophy, business. About the more usual pattern of a single lecture with most of the day spent "resting," she says, "I can 'rest' in the grave!" Her idea of the Resurrection is chatting over meals with faculty or graduate students or well-prepared undergraduates about ideas.

The main academic talks Professor McCloskey gives these days are four (she likes to talk on matters she's currently working on, or intends shortly to get back to):

1.) "The Bankruptcy of Statistical Significance"

…criticizing the gross misuse of statistical as against substantive "significance" (much of the writing has been with Stephen Ziliak, such as our book of 2008, The Cult of Statistical Significance). The talk is aimed at applied econometricians and other users of statistical methods.


2.) "Why Economics Can't Explain the Coming of the Modern World"

…which introduces people to the trilogy with the University of Chicago Press about capitalism, its history, its functioning, its ethics: The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006); Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (2010); and forthcoming The Treasured Bourgeoisie: How Markets and Improvements Became Ethical, 1600-1848, and then Suspect (2015). For economists, historians, and the general public.


3.) "Virtue Ethics in a Bourgeois World"

…a summary of The Bourgeois Virtues (2006), directed at ethicists in schools of business, but relevant to philosophers and economists.


4.) "The Prudent and Faithful Peasant"

…looking forward to the next book project, which will gather up and heavily revise research (dating from the 1970s) on medieval open-field agriculture. The "heavily revising" consists of exploring in detail the "Faithful" part of the title, something a conventional economist did not grasp in those former days.


Other Talks:

"Crossing: Notes of a Novice Woman"

Deirdre McCloskey, internationally known economist, historian, and rhetorician, was until 1995 "Donald." She describes her adventures---sad, funny, terrifying, illuminating of gender roles---in crossing genders, from her 1999 memoir, Crossing (1999), a New York Times Notable Book.
[Audience: general public; and academics in women's studies, sociology, psychology, education; women's groups especially, but it also works with general audiences and with college GLBT clubs]

"A Novice Woman in Academic Life"

Deirdre McCloskey starts from her unusual perspective a discussion about being a woman and being a professor. McCloskey, twelve years a professor at the University of Chicago and nineteen at Iowa, now teaches economics, history, English, communication at three universities. She was until 1995 "Donald." What changed? How can academic life become more open to women?
[Audience: Women faculty groups; women grad students]

"Free Market Feminism: A Contradiction?"

Deirdre McCloskey, a well-known "Good Old Chicago School" economist, thinks it is not a contradiction. The market, she argues, has been the chief liberator of women; and the government has been most often a men's club.
[Audience: women's studies, including undergrads but especially graduate students and faculty]

"A Conversation with Deirdre McCloskey"

Deirdre McCloskey describes herself as a "postmodern, free-market, quantitative, rhetorical, Anglican, transsexual, Midwestern, European, female economist -- that's why I haven't got any friends!" Is such a mixture possible? McCloskey is ocular proof that it is. She says, "It's like believing in infant baptism. Not only do I believe in it, I've seen it."
[Audience: undergraduate and faculty audiences]

"Learning to Love Globalization"

Deirdre McCloskey, a well-known economist and economic historian, argues in favor of capitalism, globalization, and modern economic growth. She views them as the hope for the world's poor and the promise of the century before us.
[Audience: popular; and broad, non-technical academic]

"The Rhetoric of Some Mathematical Sciences"

Deirdre McCloskey is well known as one of the originators of the "rhetoric of inquiry," a broad-based use since the early 1980s of an ancient tradition to understand scholarship and public affairs. She here discusses her latest thoughts on how literary and communications theory can illuminate-and improve-science and scholarship.
[Audience: academic, especially communication studies or mathematical economics]

"Theology and Capitalism"

Deirdre McCloskey describes herself as an "Anglican, statistical, literary, post-modern free-market economist who was once a Trotskyist, Keynesian, positivist agnostic." Can God and Mammon (Aramaic: "money") lie down together? Says McCloskey, Yes, as even Jesus of Nazareth affirmed.
[Audience: church audiences in the popular version; theologians and biblical scholars in the academic version]

Formal Biography

Deirdre N. McCloskey has been since 2000 UIC Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was Visiting Tinbergen Professor (2002-2006) of Philosophy, Economics, and Art and Cultural Studies at Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Trained at Harvard as an economist, she has written fourteen books and edited seven more, and has published some three hundred and sixty articles on economic theory, economic history, philosophy, rhetoric, feminism, ethics, and law. She taught for twelve years in Economics at the University of Chicago, and describes herself now as a "postmodern free-market quantitative Episcopalian feminist Aristotelian." Her latest books are How to be Human* *Though an Economist (University of Michigan Press 2001), Measurement and Meaning in Economics (S. Ziliak, ed.; Edward Elgar 2001), The Secret Sins of Economics (Prickly Paradigm Pamphlets, U. of Chicago Press, 2002), The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives [with Stephen Ziliak; University of Michigan Press, 2008], and The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Capitalism (U. of Chicago Press, 2006). Before The Bourgeois Virtues her best-known books were The Rhetoric of Economics (University of Wisconsin Press 1st ed. 1985; 2nd ed. 1998) and Crossing: A Memoir (Chicago 1999), which was a New York Times Notable Book.

Her scientific work has been on economic history, especially British. She is currently writing a book, second in a series of four initiated with The Bourgeois Virtues, on Dutch and British economic and social history, 1600-1800, Bourgeois Towns: How Capitalism Became Ethical, 1600-1800. She has written on British economic "failure" in the 19th century, trade and growth in the 19th century, open field agriculture in the middle ages, the Gold Standard, and the Industrial Revolution.

Her philosophical books include The Rhetoric of Economics (University of Wisconsin Press 1st ed. 1985; 2nd ed. 1998), If You're So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise (University of Chicago Press 1990), and Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics (Cambridge 1994). They concern the maladies of social scientific positivism, the epistemological limits of a future social science, and the promise of a rhetorically sophisticated philosophy of science. Recently she has turned to ethics and to a philosophical-historical apology for modern economies.




Informal Autobiographical Remarks

100-word version » | 200-word version » | 300-word version »


[300 words] Deirdre McCloskey teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A well-known economist and historian and rhetorician, she has written sixteen books and around 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistics to transgender advocacy and the ethics of the bourgeois virtues. She is known as a "conservative" economist, University-of-Chicago style (she taught for 12 years there), but protests that "I'm a literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not 'conservative'! I'm a Christian libertarian." Her latest book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2010), which argues that an ideological change rather than saving or exploitation is what made us rich, is the second in a series of four on The Bourgeois Era. The first was The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006), asking if a participant in a capitalist economy can have an ethical life (briefly, yes). "We fans of innovation and markets have done enough preaching to the choir," she says. "We need to speak to our beloved critics on the left and right who do not think that the Age of Innovation was the best thing to happen since the invention of language." Long known in economics as a critic of its least sensible techniques, she wrote in 2008 with Stephen Ziliak, The Cult of Statistical Significance, demolishing tests of "significance." It was in 2011 the basis of a Supreme Court decision. McCloskey lives in downtown Chicago in a big loft apartment converted from a factory with her Norwich terrier Will Shakespeare ("As soon as he really knows English maybe we can get some more plays. . . from the canine point of view!").



[200 words] Deirdre McCloskey teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A well-known economist and historian and rhetorician, she has written sixteen books and around 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistics to transgender advocacy and the ethics of the bourgeois virtues. She is known as a "conservative" economist, Chicago-School style (she taught for 12 years there), but protests that "I'm a literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not 'conservative'! I'm a Christian libertarian." Her latest book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2010), which argues that an ideological change rather than saving or exploitation is what made us rich, is the second in a series of four on The Bourgeois Era. The first was The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006), asking if a participant in a capitalist economy can still have an ethical life (briefly, yes). With Stephen Ziliak she wrote in 2008, The Cult of Statistical Significance (2008), which criticizes the proliferation of tests of "significance," and was in 2011 the basis of a Supreme Court decision.



[100 words] Deirdre McCloskey teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A well-known economist and historian and rhetorician, she has written sixteen books and around 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistics to transgender advocacy and the ethics of the bourgeois virtues. Her latest book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2010), is the second in a series of four on The Bourgeois Era. With Stephen Ziliak she wrote in 2008, The Cult of Statistical Significance (2008), which criticizes the proliferation of tests of "significance."

PR Bullet Points

McCloskey featured in the Boston Globe, Sunday, January 16, 2011

Click to enlarge »
Text version