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>  News Releases >   2003 >   February

Naturalist to speak

Posted 02/18/03, by Amanda Weatherman

Terry Tempest Williams
Utah writer and activist Williams is 2003's Link lecturer

The annual George Link Jr. Environmental Awareness Lecture will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Speaking is Terry Tempest Williams, a naturalist, author and activist from Utah. Her lecture is titled "Memoirs of an Environmentalist."

Williams' lecture will include personal reflections about the environment and environmental awareness and politics. She visited Dartmouth in 1996 as a Link lecturer, and the campus received her so enthusiastically that she is the only one so far to be invited back for a second appearance. Andy Friedland, Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies, recalled her 1996 visit.

"Terry had such an impact on the faculty, the staff, the undergraduates, the graduate students, that they were telling me for weeks afterward that they were so glad we brought Terry Tempest Williams to campus," Friedland said. "People lined up to get a book signed or just to talk to her for more than an hour, and Terry patiently talked to everyone. It was just wonderful."

Williams combines environmentalism, natural history, spirituality and sensual passion in her work, which has included traveling, testifying before congress, advocating for environmental issues, and most notably, writing or contributing to more than 30 books. She published an opinion piece in The New York Times on Groundhog Day, Feb. 3, arguing for the preservation of several species of western prairie dogs to stave off a spiritual winter.

The books she has written include:

  • Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert (2002), a tribute to the canyon and desert landscape of southern Utah, an exploration of a movement Williams calls the Coyote Clan, whose people are "quietly subversive on behalf of the land," and a debate, sometimes within the clan, surrounding federal control of public land.
  • Leap (2001), an exploration, partly academic, partly artistic, of the tryptic painting El Jardin de las Delicias (The Garden of Delights) by 15th century Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch. The two outer panels of the painting hung over Williams' bed as she grew up in a Mormon household: the section depicting the creation of earth and the section depicting hell, but not the center section, depicting a garden of sensual activity and situations, as well as dozens of species of birds. Williams traveled several times to a Madrid museum to see the painting in person, sometimes examining it with binoculars, as she wrote the book.
  • Coyote's Canyon (1999), a book of photographs, poetry and prose about the beauty, myths and history of the desert in southern Utah.
  • Desert Quartet (1995), a series of reflections Williams had while hiking through the desert, meditating on the beauty and vastness of the landscape, and her own spiritual place in it.
  • An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field (1995), a series of Williams' essays about the landscape of Utah, Montana, Mexico, the Serengeti Plain in Africa, Pelham Bay in New York City, and profiles of Georgia O'Keefe, Rachel Carson and Mardy Murie, among other essays.
  • Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991), a book that includes two stories, one of Williams' family (particularly her mother), many of the women of which developed cancer, believed to have been caused by living downwind of a nuclear test site in Nevada; and the habitat, sometimes threatened, of the shorebirds at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, where Williams went for solace during a time of suffering as her mother's health declined.
  • Pieces of White Shell (1987), a chronicle of a time spent teaching in the land of the Navajo, with accounts of Navajo mythology, ritual and culture.

Williams's lecture will take place in Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall, at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public, and sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program. For information call Anne French at 646-2838.

-Amanda Weatherman


Speaker: Terry Tempest Williams
When: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Filene Auditorium
Admission: Free, public
Information: 646-2838

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