The Problem with Work

The Problem with Work

Actions and Detail Panel

$5 – $10

Date and time



3092 16th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

View map

Refund policy

From constant cubicles to remote work, working has changed. Join us as Professor Kevin Smith explains to us the problem with work.

About this event

What is work?

What does it mean to be able to rest and who is afforded this luxury?

How can we make a difference and make a living?

Join us as Professor Kevin Smith from UC Berkeley tackles these big questions about the problems and future of work.

About this event:

In his recent era-defining publication, Work, Work, Work, long-time labor activist and scholar Michael Yates begins by acknowledging that "workplaces are not happy places, and the bosses and the workers do not have much in common. Whether it be in auto plants, banks, fast-food joints, hospitals, post offices, or public schools, work is something to be endured, for the money, period. Surveys sometimes tell us that people are satisfied with their jobs. But satisfied compared to what? The lack of a job? An unknown alternative?"

This session will tackle the problem of work in our increasingly unequal society, in which wealth and free time are routinely squandered by those with plenty of both while the vast majority of us are forced to waste most of our waking lives working toward someone else’s dream just to get by, either too tired or too pressed for time to pursue a meaningful existence off the clock. Through respectful and inclusive group discussion, we will aim to arrive at tentative responses to the following questions: Is it still possible to imagine an alternative arrangement for society, in which we won’t have to choose between making a living and making a difference? Can the self-fulfillment of individuals be compatible with collective goals? Could our skills and creative talents be put to better use improving ourselves and our society than making someone else rich? What will it take to change work from daily drudgery into a lifelong labor of love? Is the everyday problem of work connected to other social issues, from climate change to racist violence to global warfare?

Are you a current student? Email the word "caffeine" and the title of this event to for a complementary ticket

Manny's never turns away anyone for lack of funds. To receive a complementary ticket just email the word "grapefruit" and the title of this event to

About Kevin Smith:

Kevin Michael Smith is an assistant professor in East Asian Languages & Culture. His research and teaching focuses on modern Korean literature and culture with emphasis on poetry and poetics. His scholarly practice is concerned broadly with aesthetics and politics in colonial Korea and its aftermath, pursuing questions of uneven development, literary form, and periodization comparatively across East Asia and Euro-America. His theoretical influences include Western Marxism, posthumanism, and psychoanalysis.

He has published articles on Korean and Japanese modernist poetry, painting, and photography as well as translations of various works by modern and contemporary Korean and Japanese poets, including Im Hwa, O Chang-hwan, Yi Won, and Kitasono Katsue. He is currently completing his first book manuscript, Shuddering Century: Modernist Poetry in Colonial Korea and the Poetics of Historical Difference which examines the uneven and accelerated reception of the avant-gardes by Korean poets in the 1920s and ‘30s. His second book project aims to situate chronologically the resurgence of Romanticism in late colonial Korean poetry and explore how the rehabilitation of the lyric subject functioned as a defense mechanism against the totalitarian subsumption of the individual by the imperial Japanese body politic.

The Problem with Work image

Share with friends