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 mountain trail.
Handley’s initial scholarly interests in literature of the Americas led to the publication of Postslavery Literatures of the Americas: Family Portraits in Black and White (University of Virginia Press, 2000), but when he came into contact with ecocriticism in the 90s while teaching at Northern Arizona University, his research began to apply ecocriticism to the lessons learned in his inter-American research. This resulted in his second book, New World Poetics: Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda, and Walcott (University of Georgia Press, 2007). His hire at Brigham Young University in 1998 presented a wonderful opportunity to explore the relevance of environmental ethics to his own religious experience as a Mormon and in the landscape of his birth and early childhood. Having been encouraged by the poet Derek Walcott to write creatively after they met in 2000, he began keeping a nature journal of reflections on his encounters with his home watershed of the Provo River. This led to the publication of the environmental memoir, Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River (University of Utah Press, 2010). While he has continued to publish in the humanities as a postcolonialist, including two major co-edited projects, Caribbean Literature and the Environment (Virginia 2006) and Postcolonial Ecologies (Oxford 2011), he has also published numerous essays on Mormonism and the environment and on the intersection between religion, literature, and the environment. He has just self-published a collection of personal essays, Learning to Like Life: A Tribute to Lowell Bennion and is working to complete two collections of essays, one about about ecotheology and literature and another on Mormonism and the environment. His environmentally themed novel, American Fork, will be published later this year by John Hunt Publishers, Roundfire Books.
When he is not teaching, writing, or doing administration, he enjoys public speaking and writing for the public on environmental values and pursues his passion for community by serving in his local LDS church and on several boards of civic organizations dedicated to the health of the physical and cultural environment.
He was born in Utah, raised in Connecticut, and did all his formal schooling in California at Stanford University (BA in Comparative Literature in 1989) and at UC Berkeley (MA and PhD in Comparative Literature in 1991, 1995). His wife, Amy, is a Nurse Practitioner, and they are the proud parents of four children.