Talking Books

The Talking Books series features events hosted by JHI faculty fellows based around a literary anniversary or best-selling author, with a focus on public appeal. JHI kicked off the series with events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, including a scholarly symposium, an arts exhibit, and a public reading.

 What the Migrant Knows: A Long View of Climate Change

Amitav Ghosh
Photo Credit: Ivo von Bent

In October 2019, we welcome our Distinguished Visiting Fellow Amitav Ghosh who will be giving a public lecture titled What the Migrant Knows: A Long View of Climate Change. A number of events are planned, including a public reading on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 and a public lecture on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. A reading circle for our fellows is also planned, as well as other events. Be sure to check back here or our Events page, as well as our Twitter and Facebook feeds for up to date information. Registration will be free, but seating is limited, so be sure to register early! Registration links will be posted early September.

Public Reading: Amitav Ghosh Reads Gun Island

Tuesday, October 8 | 6pm to 8pm
Innis College Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue
Toronto, ON M5S 1J5

Amitav Ghosh will be reading from his new novel Gun Island. Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

Public Lecture: What the Migrant Knows: A Long View of Climate Change

Wednesday, October 9 | 6pm to 8pm
Innis College Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue
Toronto, ON M5S 1J5

Amitav Ghosh will be giving a public lecture titled What the Migrant Knows: A Long View of Climate Change. Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. His two books of non-fiction, a collection of essays and eight novels. His most recent book is The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016). Gun Island, forthcoming in the fall of 2019, is his ninth novel (read an excerpt here).  

His books have won many prizes and he holds four honorary doctorates. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages and he has served on the Jury of the Locarno and Venice film festivals. He is married to the writer Deborah Baker and divides his time between Brooklyn, Goa and Kolkata.

In 2018 the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor, was conferred on Amitav Ghosh. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.

Reading Frankenstein: Then, Now, Next

A Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818-2018)

Frankenstein Symposium Ad“In Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein’s creature embraces evil after his creator rejects him and denies him human status because of his repulsive appearance. This brings into focus how recent scientific and technological developments—artificial life, artificial intelligence, androids—increasingly challenge our concept of humanity. Will our technological progeny turn into monsters? Will we repeat the mistakes of Victor Frankenstein? Will artificial brains and deep learning software piece together what it means to be human, or shall humanists collaborate with scientists to instill, rather than design, “humanness” in our creatures? Can we imagine a future when humans read to machines, instead of letting them read us?” Excerpt from Reading Frankenstein: Then, Now, Next

Literary scholars, historians, ethicists, computer scientists, science fiction writers, futurologists and students participated in a three part symposium to discuss the ethical dimensions of technology. The symposium also included two film screenings – the 2014 science fiction hit Ex Machina and the 1974 classic horror spoof Young Frankenstein. After the symposium, there were a number of off-campus events, including a multimedia exhibit of Frankenstein editions at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy (Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library), and a full public reading of Frankenstein, hosted at the Toronto Reference Library.