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The iconic hero of the wilderness, John Muir, held an ecstatic relationship to trees. While Muir’s writings about trees helped lay the foundations for federal laws that aimed to protect wilderness forests as national treasures, they also index Muir’s deeply religious response to trees as living, sentient beings. This talk explores Muir’s nature spirituality that endowed trees with a kind of personhood—an attitude that was often mocked and satirized in Muir’s day—and how Muir’s "language of trees" anticipates current scientific insights into the ways that trees can communicate with one another.
Speaker: Dr. Devin Zuber is associate professor for American Studies, Religion, and Literature at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California. His most recent book, "A Language of Things: Swedenborg and the American Environmental Imagination" is forthcoming with the University of Virginia Press. Other publications include articles on William and Henry James, the poet Wallace Stevens, and "Death is Waking Up", a monograph featuring an in-depth interview with the artist Marina Abramovic. At the GTU, Devin co-directs "Sustainability 360", a new initiative on Environment and Religion, and is also a member of the Public Theology Inquiry Group at the University of California, Berkeley's Center for the Study of Religion.
This lecture is presented in connection with the Fall 2018 exhibition, “Gestures to the Divine: Works by Hagit Cohen”.
Free for GTU students, faculty and staff! Please sign up for tickets online here.