Gras Lecture in the Environmental Humanities: Literature for a Changing Planet

Which stories should we tell about climate change?

Wednesday, April 10, 2024 7:30 PM EDT
Fenwick Library, Reading Room #2001

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Gras Lecture in the Environmental Humanities: Literature for a Changing Planet

Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He is a prize-winning and bestselling author whose books include The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization (Random House 2017) and Culture: The Story of Us, From Cave Art to K-Pop (Norton 2023). He is the general editor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature.

In his Gras lecture, Puchner will be discussing the ideas in his book, Literature for a Changing Planet (Princeton 2022) which argues for why we must learn to tell new stories about our relationship with the earth if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. At this turning point for the planet, scientists, policymakers, and activists have woken up to the power of stories in the fight against global warming. In Literature for a Changing Planet, Puchner ranges across four thousand years of world literature to draw vital lessons about how we put ourselves on the path of climate change—and how we might change paths before it’s too late. This is an important talk on the role of the Humanities in the fight against climate change and how our discipline might change as a result. 

Martin Puchner's talk is part of the Vernon and Marguerite Gras Lecture in the Humanities Series, which has previously hosted writers and thinkers including Dr. Joshua Bennett, David Orr, T. Collin Campbell, Fritjob Capra, Jorie Graham, Wendy Wheeler, Robert E. Singleton, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

Vernon Gras is a professor emeritus of English and Literature at George Mason University and the founder of the George Mason University Press. Marguerite Gras was a legislative research staffer at the U.S. House of Representatives, 1974–1991.

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