Noted LecturerGAMBIER, Ohio (January 30, 2006) Outspoken environmentalist and noted author Terry Tempest Williams, whose interests range from land use and wildlife in the American West to wartime suffering in Rwanda, comes to campus this week to give two talks.
Williams will lead "A Conversation about Creative Writing" during Common Hour on Thursday, February 2, in Peirce Hall Lounge. That evening, she will lecture on "Circles of Community: From Castle Valley to Rwanda" at 7:30 p.m. in Higley Hall Auditorium.
A Utah native and sixth-generation Mormon, Williams is a fierce advocate for the wilderness, speaking out to Congress about potential threats to the environment, from proposals to exploit public lands in Utah in 1995, to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge today.
The former naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History is the author of thirteen books, including The Open Space of Democracy: New Patriotism; Red: Patience and Passion in the Desert; and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Her sense of stewardship and connection to the land are especially evident in Refuge, in which she explores both the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in 1983 (from the unprecedented rise of the Great Salt Lake) and her mother's ovarian cancer, attributed to fallout from nuclear testing in the desert decades before.
Williams is "not only a brilliant writer but a brilliant intellect," says Assistant Professor of American Studies Kevin Britz. "I think that history will locate her among environmental thinkers like John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, and Aldo Leopold." Britz uses Refuge in two of his courses, "because it works at so many levels: environmental science, social criticism, memoir, women's issues, and the importance of place."
He adds that Williams has provocative ideas on Mormonism (she still practices the religion), the West, the need for place and stewardship, and the current political climate.
Associate Professor of English Adele Davidson says, "Williams is a committed activist who has recently been speaking about her experiences of travel to Rwanda to see what artists and art can do to help heal some of the ravages of that war-torn land.
"Her book, The Open Space of Democracy, combines a concern for free speech and open lands--spaces that encourage citizens to share and grow," says Davidson. "Her writing style is incisive and sharp; she does not shy away from controversy, but she remains grounded in the things that unite us as inhabitants of a common land."
Both the Common Hour conversation and the evening lecture are free and open to the public. Williams will be available to sign her books, which are available at the bookstore, after each of the events.
Williams's visit is sponsored by Faculty Lectureships and cohosted by the American studies program and the English department. Though the author has not visited Kenyon before, her nephew, Nathan Thomas, was an English major in the Class of 1999.