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Scholars@Hallwalls: Carrie Tirado Bramen, “‘The Journey-work of the Stars’: A Cultural History of Astrology in the Nineteenth-Century United States”

December 1, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Scholars@Hallwalls is a monthly series featuring talks by Humanities Institute Faculty Fellows. Please join us in the cinema space at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center!

Complimentary wine and light fare will be served for a brief, pre-talk mingling session at this free and open-to-the-public event.

“‘The Journey-work of the Stars’: A Cultural History of Astrology in the Nineteenth-Century United States”

In recent years, popular interest in astrology has skyrocketed. There is a flourishing publishing industry, a strong social media presence, lucrative apps such as Co-Star that give daily horoscopes, and an endless array of online classes, and podcasts. Bramen’s book project provides a history of this contemporary moment by going back to the nineteenth century, a period that historians have depicted as a fallow period in astrological practice before the Theosophy Movement entered the scene in the 1870s. She argues that the nineteenth century actually represents a rich array of astrological practices from “prophetic almanacs” that foretold with surprising boldness crises of sickness, war, and natural disasters to the rise of Wall Street seers who predicted with varying degrees of success the boom-and-bust cycle of financial speculation. Astrology helped to navigate the uncertainty of modern life by providing a language of decipherability that made misfortune explicable rather than arbitrary. It accounted for past events and predicted future ones by using the semiotic tools of astral interpretation. This interdisciplinary study is ultimately a story about reading signs.

This event will be simultaneously live-streamed via the Hallwalls website. The talk will begin at ~4:15pm.

About Carrie Tirado Bramen, Professor of English

Carrie Tirado Bramen is a literary and cultural historian of the U.S. nineteenth century. She is the author of two books, American Niceness: A Cultural History (Harvard 2017), and The Uses of Variety: Modern Americanism and the Quest for National Distinctiveness (Harvard 2000). She has written for the Washington Post, The Conversation, Black Agenda Report, Political Theology Network, and Times Higher Education. She is currently working on a book entitled, “’The Journey-work of the Stars’: A Cultural History of Astrology in the American Nineteenth-Century.”


December 1, 2023
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Humanities Institute


Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
341 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY United States
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