The Henry Sheldon Museum presents “Adulthood: Trick or Treat?: How Young Adults Stole Halloween Just as Adulthood was Stolen from Them,” a talk by Linus Owens, professor of sociology, Middlebury College.

Holidays are when societies celebrate and reaffirm their central values and structures. Traditionally a night for children, Halloween has recently become a major holiday for young adults. It’s no coincidence that this is happening alongside a broader crisis and transformation of adulthood.  Young people aren’t growing up like they used to, both because they refuse to follow traditional paths and because they are denied access to those same paths. Caught in between childhood and adulthood, between choice and constraint, emerging adults are social monsters. And if you want to understand monsters, you look at their natural habitat, Halloween. More than a night of candy and costumes, Halloween provides a powerful lens for studying how emerging adults are responding to the shifting economic and cultural constraints and opportunities facing young people these days. This talk is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by: Table 21.

Linus Owens teaches sociology at Middlebury College. He dropped out of college before realizing that being in school is better than going to work, so he dropped back in and never left.  He wrote a cookbook, featuring recipes from punk rock bands and avant-garde musicians. He tried to turn it into a TV show but failed. He wrote a book about the Amsterdam squatters’ movement and was a founding member of the Squatting Europe Kollective, an international group of activists and academics engaged in urban housing struggles to secure housing for all. Before it ultimately imploded, as such things inevitably do, the group published multiple academic books, another book for activists, organized events across Europe and the US, and provided support to radical housing struggles in countless cities.  His media appearances include debating student protest and free speech on Vermont Public Radio, explaining Black Lives Matter tactics on local Burlington TV news, discussing Halloween during the pandemic on Canadian Public Radio, condemning lawnmowers in an article on  his overgrown front lawn in the Vermont Alt-Weekly, and portraying a spy in a very tiny role in a Belgian TV comedy. Linus  is currently interested in the changing meaning of adulthood, using Halloween as a case study. He dreams of some day becoming the go-to Halloween expert and work only a few weeks a year.