Literary ecocritic George Handley discusses how literature ranging from sacred texts like the Bible to Charles Dickens to Twilight shape our perceptions of environmental morality. He also discusses the influences of the Mormon faith on his environmental ethics, and why he feels “a Christian obligation to listen very carefully to science,” including climate change, evolution, and geologic time.
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After teaching for three years at Northern Arizona University, George Handley came to BYU in 1998. His training is in Comparative Literature, focusing on the literatures of the Americas. His publications include two books on inter-american themes: “Postslavery Literatures in the Americas” (Virginia 2000), which is a study of the representation of slavery and family history in novels from the U.S. and the Caribbean, and “New World Poetics: Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda and Walcott” (Georgia, 2007), which is a critique of the imagination of nature in inter-american poetry. He has also co-edited “Caribbean Literature and the Environment” (Virginia), “Stewardship and the Creation: LDS Perspectives on the Environment” (BYU), and “Postcolonial Ecologies” (Oxford). His book “Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River” (U of U Press) is a work of creative non-fiction that includes nature writing, personal and environmental history, and reflections on ecotheology. He is currently working on a book, “From Chaos to Cosmos: Literature as Ecotheology.”
Our interviewers for this episode were two producers for our show, Mike Osborne and Leslie Chang. For biographical information on both of them, please click here.