HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Lee Siegel

Acclaimed Social and Cultural Critic


  • Are You Serious? How to Be True and Get Real in the Age of Silly
  • Against the Machine: How the Web is Reshaping Culture and Commerce - and Why It Matters
  • Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Television
  • American Culture & Society
  • American Politics


New Jersey

Lee Siegel is the author of four books: Falling Upwards: Essays in the Defense of the Imagination; Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Television; Against the Machine: How the Web is Reshaping Culture and Commerce -- and Why it Matters; and Are You Serious: How to Be True and Get Real in the Age of Silly (Harper). Siegel has published over 500 essays, articles and reviews, which have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, New York, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among many other publications. A popular social and cultural critic, Siegel's keynote speeches resonate with audiences of all backgrounds, from colleges and community events to corporate conferences.

Siegel's newest book, Are You Serious: How to Be True and Get Real in the Age of Silly, defines and celebrates the quality of seriousness while examining the contemporary forces ranged against it. We used to live in a world run by serious people: many of our political and religious leaders, writers and artists, journalists and academics, lawyers and business executives were men and women who were plainly serious about their professional roles. Today it seems as if most of these figures have all but disappeared, leaving our country and our culture in the hands of amateurs, buffoons, and professional clowns.Yet according to Siegel, seriousness has been elusive in every age, and every age has its own particular obstacles to living seriously.

In his book and in his keynote speeches, Siegel illuminates the contemporary distractions of profit, popularity and instant pleasure that confront us as we search for ways to be serious in culture, politics, and in everyday life. He offers a thoughtful and enlightening exploration of seriousness in all its incarnations, from the heights of intellectual endeavor to the depths of political conflict to romance and business. Siegel lays bare the forces in modern life that create the silliness all around us, and he describes how seriousness may be attained through the qualities of attention, purpose, and continuity, in satisfying lives forged in bonds of love and work.

Siegel has been television critic for the New Republic, where he also served as a senior editor; book critic for The Nation; art critic for Slate; staff writer at Harper's, Talk magazine, and The Los Angeles Times Book Review; weekly columnist for The New York Observer; senior columnist for The Daily Beast, and associate editor of ARTnews.

In 2002, Siegel was awarded a National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. He has appeared as a guest on The Daily Show and as a commentator on MSNBC, CNBC, and BBC television, as well as on NPR and numerous national and international radio stations. He received his B.A., M.A., and a masters of philosophy at Columbia University, and lives in Montlclair, New Jersey with his wife and two children.

Praise for Lee Siegel's writing:

"One of the country's most eloquent and acid-tongued cultural critics."
-- The New York Times Magazine

"A fluent and culturally voracious critic, Siegel writes a mean and memorable sentence."
-- Financial Times

"A wizard of macho outrage."
-- The Economist

"The scourge of literary cant."
-- Ross Douthat, New York Times Book Review