My field value: David Aberbach

10 March, 2021

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Energy, Literature, and the Arts

What does literature tell scientists about the energy revolution and consequent environmental moral dilemmas?

In this video, David Aberbach, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Studies at McGill University, and research associate at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, shows that writers and scientists often deal with the same problems, but literature is better at presenting the human cost of environmental damage. Often literature describes environmental pollution in moral terms, as a degradation of humanity.

Professor Aberbach gives a bird’s eye view of literary responses to environmental problems from the time of the Industrial Revolution until today, in works by many, mostly outraged writers, including Ibsen, Chekhov, Zola, D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, and J.M. Coetzee.

Literature expresses much hope and faith in human abilities but is chiefly concerned with the damage people do, to one another and to the earth.