Center for Environmental Literacy Hosts Natural History Writer Terry Tempest Williams

Naturalist and author Terry Tempest Williams will speak April 8 at an event titled "The Spirit of Wildness."

Terry Tempest Williams, a renowned field biologist and author of Refuge, Desert Quartet, and other books, will speak on campus April 8. The event, titled "The Spirit of Wildness," is sponsored by the Center for Environmental Literacy.

Williams is celebrated for her natural history writing, especially about her home state of Utah. "I am a woman whose ideas have been shaped by the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin, [and] these ideas are then filtered through the prism of culture--and my culture is Mormon," she has said. "Those tenets of family and community that I see at the heart of that culture are then articulated through story." Her most recent book is New Genesis: A Mormon Reader of Land and Community.

Her best-known book, Refuge, melds the human and the natural worlds by describing the rising level of the Great Salt Lake and the destruction of bird habitats as a backdrop to coping with her mother's decline from breast cancer. Williams's six aunts, mother, and grandmother all had mastectomies, and their cancer is believed to have been the result of living downwind from a nuclear test site. In Refuge, as in other works, Williams captures the essence of environmental change, change in people as a result of the environment, and the need for humans to change their relationship with the earth. Williams believes we need to see ourselves as one among the planet's many species, rather than as the beings meant to dominate all other life forms.

Williams is the Thomas Visiting Professor of English at the University of Utah, and has been a naturalist at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the Utah Museum of Natural History.


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