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Loyola’s 2022 Humanities Symposium to reflect on the environment

Science fiction writer Jeff VanderMeer, Photo credit: Kyle Cassidy
Science fiction writer Jeff VanderMeer, photo credit: Kyle Cassidy

Loyola University Maryland’s Center for the Humanities will host its annual Humanities Symposium on Thursday, March 17, at 6 p.m. in McGuire Hall and via livestream. In his talk, “Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead,” science fiction writer Jeff VanderMeer will discuss environmental themes in this year’s text, Ursula Le Guin’s, The Left Hand of Darkness, as well as the ecological themes in his own writing.

Jeff VanderMeer is the author of many novels, including the bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy whose first volume, Annihilation, won both the Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award and was adapted into a movie by Alex Garland. VanderMeer’s latest novel, Hummingbird Salamander, is an eco-thriller. His short story "Secret Life" will be released this year as a graphic novel by Theo Ellsworth. VanderMeer often highlights issues related to climate change in his work. He has written nonfiction for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the, among others. VanderMeer lives in Tallahassee, Fla., with his wife, Ann VanderMeer, and their cats, plants, and bird feeders.

This year’s Symposium text, The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin’s also highlights themes of the environment. The 1969 novel also speaks to issues of gender and nationalism.

The Left Hand of Darkness, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, follows a human ambassador’s visit to Winter, an icy planet on which the gender of its inhabitants is inherently fluid.

Prior to the Humanities Symposium, Loyola faculty are encouraged to invite their students to attend the colloquia discussions on The Left Hand of Darkness on Tuesday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 16. 

The Humanities Symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information and to register, visit