The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions

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at Collins Street Baptist Church

Must happiness require effort? Meghan Daum and Sally Warhaft

Common wisdom asserts, with its casual air of fact, that something called happiness is both possible and truer when earned. What do we – not so much as psychologists or scientists, but as people who live – know about happiness? What drives our preoccupation with authentic emotions, and our attachment to labour as a virtue?

The texture, timbre and depth of our emotions and relationships are, as it turns out, the specialty of writer Meghan Daum. She’s an accomplished essayist whose work deals with many and varied features of contemporary life – including ageing, sentimentality, sexuality, illness and modern families (especially consciously childless ones). You’ll find her work in titles such as the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s and Vogue.

Why do we still think that marriage and children are the path to happiness when so many alternatives exist? Is it shameful to feel devastated by the loss of one person, when tsunamis and earthquakes can wipe out generations of families? Why do humans have such an affinity with dogs? Hear Daum’s view as she speaks with broadcaster, anthropologist and fellow people-watcher Sally Warhaft about emotional labour, loss, fulfilment, families and womanhood.

Tickets to this event are available at the door. Arrive at least twenty minutes prior to the event to purchase.

Note to early bookers: if you booked tickets to this event prior to Thursday 19 November, some details may have changed. Please check for details.





Portrait of Meghan Daum

Meghan Daum

Meghan Daum has been a columnist on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times since 2005. She is the author of four books, most recently The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, a collection of original essays about sentimentality and manufactured emotion in American life.

She is also the editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Choice Not to Have Children, featuring essays from celebrated writers including Lionel Shriver, Geoff Dyer, Pam Houston, Sigrid Nunez and Kate Christensen.

She has contributed to National Public Radio's Morning Edition and MarketplaceThis American Life, and has written for numerous publications including The New YorkerHarper'sGQElleVogueNew YorkTravel & LeisureBlackBookThe Village Voice, and the New York Times Book Review.

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions

The Interrobang – a new festival from the Wheeler Centre – is looking for the best questions in the world.

Ask your questions and vote on others, then join us on 27–28 November for a feast of frequently unanswered questions – as we present your most controversial, revealing, funny and insightful ideas to a 28-strong Brains Trust of the world’s most inquisitive thinkers.

Pose your question at The Interrobang festival website. We’re building this festival on your curiosity, so brace yourself – and wonder hard.

Presenting partners

• City of Melbourne
• The University of Melbourne


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