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American Nerd

American Nerd

The Story of My People

  • freshman reading
“One of the season’s most talked about cultural studies” (Los Angeles Times)—an incisive and irreverent appreciation of nerds that combines history, sociology, psychology, and memoir from noted journalist and self-proclaimed nerd Ben Nugent.

Most people know a nerd when they see one, but yet can’t define just what a nerd is exactly. American Nerd: The Story of My People gives readers the history of the concept of nerdiness and its related subcultures. What makes Dr. Frankenstein the archetypal nerd? Where did the modern jock come from? When and how did being a self-described nerd become trendy? As the nerd emerged in the nineteenth century, and popped up again and again in college humor journals and sketch comedy, our culture obsessed over the phenomenon.

“Part history, part memoir, and all funny” (GQ), American Nerd is critically acclaimed writer Benjamin Nugent’s entertaining fact-finding mission. He seeks the best definition of nerd and illuminates the common ground between nerd subcultures that might seem unrelated: high-school debate team kids and ham radio enthusiasts, medieval reenactors and pro-circuit videogame players. Why do the same people who like to work with computers also enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons? How are those activities similar? This clever, enlightening book will appeal to the nerd (and anti-nerd) that lives inside everyone.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743288026 | 
  • June 2009
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About the Author

Benjamin Nugent
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Benjamin Nugent

Benjamin Nugent's nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and n+1, and his fiction has appeared in Tin House. He holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts fellow. Director of Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, he teaches fiction and nonfiction in its MFA and undergraduate programs. He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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