A Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brigham Young University, George B. Handley's creative writing, literary criticism, and civic engagement focus on the intersection between religion, literature, and the environment. A literary scholar and ecocritic whose work is characterized by its comparative reach across the cultures and landscapes of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States, he is also known for creative writing that is praised for its eloquence and unique capacity to blend nature writing, theology, and family history. He is a leading advocate for and scholar of environmental stewardship within Mormonism and active in a variety of environmental organizations. A passionate believer in the public humanities, he enjoys lecturing on and off campus. His mind is never clearer than on a … Read More about About George
Learning to Like Life renews the importance of the timeless values lived and taught by Doc Bennion. They continue to guide and shape the direction of the Birch Creek Service Ranch here in Spring City, where young men and women are taught the same values and lessons George learned from Lowell decades ago. This book is a tribute to Lowell, to George, and to the importance of the things that matter most.
—Steve and Kathy Peterson
This is a riveting story, beautifully written and skillfully told. It engages the reader in a fresh exploration of enduring themes of family and culture, nature and religion. It will change your perspective as it did mine.
–Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
In this fortunate pairing of place and poet, we learn about Utah’s Provo River—a paradox of wildness and extinction, pioneering and restoration. We learn that the river is embedded in community—Mormon community—a fact inseparable from the place. And we learn about the poet who attends to this river, a man who turns out to be an insightful scholar, an exuberant fly fisherman, a devout pilgrim, and an expansive guide as these home waters descend from the High Uintas through defining stories of family and identity, to pour down the Jordan River to the Great Salt Lake.
—Stephen Trimble, author of Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America
“New World Poetics will be viewed as a foundational work because of its many, and remarkably perceptive, links among poetry, natural history, and political history. Handley’s scholarship is impressive throughout, as he explores both North American and Latin American conceptions of the New World and illuminates the origins, potential, and limitations of American Studies as a discipline. This exciting book left me especially eager to voyage further into the literature of South America for myself.
—John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home
George B. Handley’s book is a timely and a necessary addition to our tools for teaching American literatures in the new millennium. Each chapter of this fine study pairs books across language traditions and through related preoccupations, obsessions. One can hardly imagine reading them apart from one another now.
—Doris Sommer, author of The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities
Presenting a considerable range of island and mainland perspectives, … the topic of this new collection is urgent, absolutely necessary–and the execution of the project is first-rate, from the articulate, synthesizing introduction to the precise demonstrations offered in the collected articles.
—Scott Slovic, author of Going Away to Think: Engagement, Retreat, and Ecocritical Responsibility
Postcolonial Ecologies, with its outstanding roster of contributors, is a crucial intervention in the internationalisation of ecocriticism and the greening of postcolonialism. Framed by DeLoughrey and Handley’s well-informed and lucid introduction, this diverse and formidable collection clarifies the inseparability of environmental issues from neo-colonial relations.
—Greg Garrard, author of Ecocriticism
The essays in this book inspire Latter-day Saints to consider carefully their stewardship in caring for God’s creations. It also encourages finding common ground with those of other persuasions. The book demonstrates that our religion offers a vital perspective on environmental stewardship that encompasses the best impulses of liberal generosity and conservative restraint. You can […]
You can access a recent podcast I did with Laura Harris Hales from LDS Perspectives Podcast. We covered a lot of terrain, including the relationship between spirituality and the humanities and the struggle to define and establish real community. Listen here.
I will be part of a panel reading and discussion about the new book, Red Rock Testimony, that appeared earlier this year. The book is a collection of testimonials about the value of wilderness and of the Bears Ears National Monument that is currently under consideration for possible rescission by the current administration. Come to Writ & Vision, 274 Center Street in Provo on Tuesday July 18 at 7:00 pm.
Serving on non-profit boards and being politically engaged in my local community has been one of the most rewarding and stimulating experiences of my life. It has taught me a great deal more about the value of the humanities in the public sphere and … Read More about Civic Engagement
Recent Home Waters Posts
I didn’t ever expect that in 2016 we would be struggling as a nation with the very idea of the universal brotherhood of God’s family. Of course, I expected that we would still have difficulty rising up to the standards such an idea implies, but we are seeing such naked and bald assertions of hatred of late and many of us understandably are recoiling in a state of shock. Let us not recoil. If we wish to stand for something, let us stand for kindness, decency, and the courage to model civil disagreement. Let us remember how good we have been and still can be. Let us celebrate those moments of light when the idea of the familial nature of all human relationships shines brightly. Read More about Literature and the Art of Friendship
Tone can make a great difference in how effectively we communicate, especially when we are trying to offer correction or criticism. We might be right and we might have the truth on our side, but if we don’t have love and we don’t have the trust of the one we wish to correct, we are not ready to speak the truth. When there is love and trust, the same truth can be said with much more positive results. My experience has taught me that if criticism isn’t offered with love, it will perhaps effectively motivate those who already are in agreement but it will do little to persuade others who remain opposed. In fact, it can often have exactly the opposite desired effect: it can cause people to dig in their heels even more and become almost recalcitrant in their opposition. Read More about On Disagreements at Church
I can remember my mother’s boisterous laugh when I was a little boy. I can remember my older brothers teasing me at the ripe age of five about a girl I liked who lived next door. I remember us wrestling with our dad in his bed on Saturday mornings. I remember the sycamores that lined our street, their unforgettable peeling bark. I can still see the kitchen counter in our house on Hubbard avenue in Salt Lake City, high above my head. The counter, like all things in my world at that time, was a sharp-edged given, fixed and immutable, seemingly from time immemorial. A loving stable home, like the one I was fortunate enough to enjoy growing up, is the cradle of faith in a world that is reliable and reliably good. It would take a good two decades before I could look back and see things—from kitchen countertops to clothes and cars and traditions, the whole atmosphere of my life— as contingent and dynamically changing through time. Read More about The Gift of Friendship
I wouldn’t have gone to Stanford, majored in Comparative Literature, or taken my career path as a professor without my brother Bill’s example, encouragement, and brilliance that lighted every step of the way for me through my education. He was and is my intellectual soul-mate. My freshman year at Stanford included a year long dorm-based intensive course on the Western tradition, perhaps the single-most valuable educational experience of my life. In the haIlways and in class, we debated the meaning of Greek tragedies, the value of biblical wisdom, and the very nature of the universe. We wrestled with Darwinism, the meaning of grace according to Luther, and the root causes of poverty and the legacies of the Holocaust. I was debating with atheists, with other Christians, with Muslims and Jews and Hindus. This, for me, was heaven! The experience that year was enough to convince me I wanted to make a career out of reading, discussing, and writing about great ideas. What was especially exciting was that we could explore ideas without restraint, without pre-established conclusions, and in the company of a wide diversity of viewpoints. I learned that part of criticism is listening to the criticism of others, something central to scholarly work. I felt comfortable saying something that I might later decide was utter hogwash. I was often told my ideas were, indeed, hogwash, although my friends used other words for it. Sometimes it meant I got stinging and hurtful criticisms of my beliefs, but more often than not such exchanges helped me to recognize my own sexism or racism or naiveté about the world. I sensed my professor, an atheist, a Jew, and a Marxist, was not thrilled with the idea of me wanting to serve a mission, but he also had a respect and interest in Mormonism. He had already read the Book of Mormon, but wanted to read more, so I gave him a collection of essays by one of my most influential models of a Mormon scholar in those days, Gene England, which he enjoyed. When I got too worked up in my criticism of a writer, whether it was Marx or Nietzsche, he would ask me if I was reading carefully enough to understand their point of view. I figured that if he had bothered to read about Mormonism, I should bother to be as curious about other ideas. Read More about My Journey as a Scholar of Faith, Part III
My first experiences with criticism, compassion and charity were in family life at home. As Mormons, we lived as a very small minority outside of New York. We were taught to love human diversity and that God must too. Dinner table conversation at my home was free-flowing, covering politics and culture and the church. We went to concerts and museums in the City and we hosted friends of other faiths at our home. I was the youngest of three brothers, and the older two were exceptionally bright and observant and full of strong opinions. They read serious literature at young ages, they loved and played classical music, and they knew how to have a meaningful experience in a museum. Even though neither of my parents would have considered themselves experts, they remain among my most important adjudicators of taste. They have always been amateurs in the best sense of the word: lovers of all good things, consistent with the charitable work, as Mormon describes it, of “laying hold of every good thing.” Read More about My Journey as a Scholar of Faith, Part II