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Environmental Literature Scholar Rob Nixon to Speak October 30

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor to discuss global threats to the environment and forms of resistance in developing nations


MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at 7:00 p.m. Professor Rob Nixon will present the 2012 Scott A. Margolin ’99 Lecture in Environmental Affairs. Nixon is the Rachel Carson Professor of English and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His lecture, “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor,” is free and open to the public and will take place in McCullough Social space off Old Chapel Road between College Street (Route 125) and South Main Street (Route 30). This event is sponsored by the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest and the Program in Environmental Studies.

Professor Nixon is a creative writer and scholar of literature and environment whose work on the links between literature, intellectual history, global environmental justice, race, ethnicity, and class has garnered him an international reputation as a leading ecocritic. His most recent book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard University Press 2011), won the American Book Award, the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for 2012 for the best book in international environmental studies, and the 2011 Transdisciplinary Humanities Book Award for “transdisciplinary, socially engaged humanities-based scholarship on a topic of social or cultural importance — past, present, or future.” Nixon is a frequent contributor to the New York Times. His writing has also appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Village Voice, The Nation, The Guardian, PMLA, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Critical Inquiry. He has published over a hundred journal articles, essays, and book chapters, with a particular emphasis on postcolonial, environmental justice, and African studies and nonfiction. He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim, an NEH, and a MacArthur Foundation Peace and Security Award.

In Slow Violence, Nixon explores the fundamental challenge of capturing the pervasive effects of slowly unfolding environmental crises. Climate change, thawing polar icecaps, the toxic drift of agricultural runoff and the ongoing chemical and radiological legacies of wars are just a few examples of what Nixon calls “slow violence.”  Throughout Slow Violence, Nixon tracks some of the creative ways that writers and filmmakers have risen to face the storytelling challenges posed by attritional environmental degradation.

The Margolin lecture, like the Environmental Studies Program, takes an interdisciplinary approach to human interactions with the natural environment. Given annually since 1989, the lecture has been named, since 1998, in honor of Scott A. Margolin, of the Middlebury College Class of 1999. In his one year here, Scott established himself as a dedicated student of Environmental Studies, a leader in Environmental Quality and other student affairs, and an outstanding writer. He lives in our memory.

For more information, contact Janet Wiseman (


Program in Environmental Studies

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest
531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753