Admittedly, Sweet Briar College doesn’t often sell out events or fill its auditorium. I’m pretty sure there are more seats than there are students. When someone as inspirational and respected as Barbara Kingsolver comes to speak, there’s suddenly a wait list. I can’t believe I’d never heard of her before a month or two ago and only then because it was an event I was required to go to for an English class. Kingsolver is a novelist who does research and writes about science-y things in a way that people not only find accessible but also that they can’t get enough of. On Thursday evening, she read from her latest novel, Flight Behavior, and spoke a bit about communication between the sciences and the arts. On Friday morning, Kingsolver was at a two-hour question and answer session, which I’m happy to say was very well attended by students majoring in sciences.
As a well-known author who went to college for science herself, her perspective and interest in bridging the gap between science and writing has added weight. For Flight Behavior, she traveled to Mexico to see the monarch butterflies in person, as well as to research labs to become intimately familiar with the lab atmosphere. For obvious reasons, her interest in having one foot in science and one foot in arts and communication made me super happy, but not as happy as seeing the popularity and enthusiasm of the crowd.
I was immensely impressed by both discussions I attended and yes, I bought the book. Below is the video streamed during her talk and reading in the Sweet Briar College Murchison Lane Auditorium on Thursday evening. Feel free to skip around the footage, but I highly recommend listening to the “talk” portion before the reading.