Headshot of author Jia TolentinoThe acclaimed author of the essay collection Trick Mirror and a staff writer at The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino uses the written word to bring to light various social and cultural issues that directly impact youth—including gender and feminism, politics, and self-identity. And on Feb. 22, Tolentino will visit the Lafayette campus to deliver this year’s John L. Hatfield ’67 Lecture, “Against Optimization,” in which she will discuss and challenge the concepts of worth, growth, and meaning.

Tolentino’s lecture, which is open to the public and presented by Lafayette College Libraries, will draw connections between the greater cultural landscape and issues of self-identity—and will challenge the audience to reflect on and question how we define and measure “value and meaning,” both collectively and as individuals. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Jia Tolentino to campus,” says Charlotte Nunes, interim dean of libraries and director of digital scholarship services. “It’s truly exciting to host a speaker who is so influential on topics of culture, technology, politics, and other realms.”

Tolentino grew up in Texas and currently resides in New York. A former deputy editor at Jezebel and contributing editor at The Hairpin, she earned her undergraduate degree at University of Virginia and her MFA at University of Michigan. In 2020, Tolentino received a Whiting Award as well as the Jeannette Haien Ballard Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Pitchfork, as well as other publications. 

Trick Mirror, an instant New York Times bestseller published in 2019, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for Best First Book and the PEN America Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. It was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, the Chicago Tribune, GQ, and The Paris Review. The book, which has been translated into 11 languages, is out in paperback and is available to check out from Skillman Library

The Hatfield Lecture series is sponsored by Lafayette College Libraries and endowed by a generous gift from alumnus John L. Hatfield ’67. The series brings a prominent author to campus for a public lecture and to visit with students. The Hatfield Lecture occurs once a year in the spring, usually in February or early March, and has become an annual highlight for the College. The libraries are proud to provide a home for the series, which has celebrated great writing, since 2008.

Attend the lecture

  • The 2023 Hatfield Lecture by Jia Tolentino will be free and open to the public. The talk will be delivered Feb. 22 at 4:15 p.m. in Room 103 of Hugel Science Center. Registration is not required. For those who cannot attend the event in person, a recording of the lecture will be available on the Lafayette College Library website. The libraries strive to make their events as accessible as possible. If you have any accessibility questions, please email lat.group@lafayette.edu.
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