Bathsheba Demuth is the Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University, where she teaches environmental history and is a co-founder of Environmental Humanities at Brown. Her multiple-prize winning first book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait was a New York Times editors pick, and named a best book of 2019 by Nature, NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and others. She writes regularly for non-academic outlets on environmental topics, including Granta, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and has selections in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Travel Writing. Demuth holds a BA and MA from Brown University, and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a current Carnegie Fellow, working on an environmental history of the Yukon River from colonization to climate change.
Kerri Arsenault is currently a Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, a literary critic, contributing editor at Orion magazine, and author of Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains. Mill Town, a New York Times Editors’ Choice book for 2020, won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Maine Literary Award for nonfiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize for best first book in any genre; the Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics; the New England Society Book Awards; the New England Independent Booksellers Association nonfiction prize; the Connecticut Book Awards; and the Chautauqua Prize. Arsenault’s writing has been published in the Boston Globe, the Paris Review, the New York Review of Books, Freeman’s, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. For 2023, Arsenault will be a short-term fellow at the Science History Institute and for winter 2022-23, is teaching storytelling to academics at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. Arsenault is working on two book projects that orbit around the lives of ordinary people and their intersection with waste, pollutants, and toxicities.
Janek Schaller is an undergraduate at Brown University, studying Environmental Science and English. He is a reporter for Possibly, an environmental podcast that covers the science behind solutions to the climate crisis, and a contributing writer for the College Hill Independent, a student-run publication that is accountable and devoted to the broader Providence community. Schaller is a member of the Climate and Development Lab, where he conducts research on systemic processes of misinformation and obstruction. His interests lie in the fluid intersections between objective and subjective truths, especially as they pertain to people’s lived experiences of climate change, and how narrative can be positioned to infuse scientific findings with greater legibilty, pertinence, and feeling.
Yuna Shprecher is an undergraduate student at Brown University concentrating in English and American Studies. Apart from helping out with TESS, she works at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America as their Social Media Engagement intern, publicizing and raising awareness of the art, research, and events that the center fosters on campus. She also devotes much of her time to the on-campus advocacy group Students for Educational Equity as co-lead for their Community Engagement team, which works with Providence nonprofits to ameliorate the inequitable relationship between Brown and the surrounding community.
Guest Contributors & Speakers
Elissa Altman is the James Beard Award-winning author of the memoirs Motherland, Treyf, Poor Man’s Feast, and the upcoming On Permission. A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, Connecticut Book Award, and Maine Literary Award for memoir, Altman’s work has appeared in Orion, On Being, O: The Oprah Magazine, LitHub, The
Wall Street Journal, Dame, Lion’s Roar, The Guardian, and The Washington Post, where her column, “Feeding My Mother,” ran for a year. Altman writes and speaks widely on the intersection of sustenance, nature, and the creative spirit, and has appeared live on the TEDx stage and at the Public Theater in New York. She teaches the craft of memoir at the Fine Arts Work Center, Maine Writers & Publishers, College of William and Mary, and internationally. She lives in Connecticut with her family.
Kathryn Belden is Vice President and Editorial Director at Scribner. She is interested in the breadth of the American experience, which she pursues through fiction and nonfiction acquisitions. Her engagement with all books begins with voice. General categories in which she works include literary fiction, social and cultural history, race and gender, nature and environment, as well as memoir and biography. Her books have won or been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and many others. Some of the writers she has worked with include Roz Chast, Jessica Harris, Mitchell S. Jackson, Kiese Laymon, Andrew Krivak, Nora Krug, Megan Kate Nelson, Sarah Smarsh, Amy Stanley, Jesmyn Ward, John Edgar Wideman, among many others. Previously she worked at Bloomsbury, Four Walls Eight Windows, and Harmony Books/Crown Publishers.
Sarah Burnes began her career on the editorial side of publishing, first at Houghton Mifflin, then in the Knopf Group, and last at Little, Brown. She became an agent in 2001, joining The Gernert Company in 2005. As an editor, she acquired and edited literary fiction and non-fiction, and as an agent, she has added children’s fiction to her list. Sarah sits on the board of non-profit progressive publisher the New Press and her writing has appeared on The Paris Review’s blog. She lives with her husband and three children in Brooklyn.
Jessica Bruder is a journalist who writes about subcultures and social issues. For her New York Times-bestselling book Nomadland, she spent months living in a camper van, documenting itinerant Americans who gave up traditional housing and hit the road full time, enabling them to travel from job to job and carve out a place in a precarious economy. The project spanned three years and more than 15,000 miles of driving — from coast to coast and from Mexico to the Canadian border. Nomadland won the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for Literary Reportage and the Discover Award. It was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize and the Helen Bernstein Book Award. The New York Times named it both a Notable Book and an Editors’ Choice. The book has been translated into 24 languages and adapted into an eponymous Oscar-winning film. Jessica is also the author of Burning Book and, with co-author Dale Maharidge, Snowden’s Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance.
Sam Carter is the Editorial Director for non-fiction at Oneworld Publications Limited, London. His book list spans history, popular science, nature, culture, current affairs, and general narrative non-fiction, written by great journalists, commentators, practitioners, academics, and excerpts for a broad audience. Current projects include: Infectious: Pathogens and How We fight Them by Dr John S. Tregoning; Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate by Mark Kurlansky; and Black Tudors: The Untold Story by Miranda Kaufmann.
Meehan Crist is writer in residence in biological sciences at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the London Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Nation, Scientific American, and Science, and was selected for Best American Science and Nature Writing 2021. Awards include the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, the Climate Narratives Prize, the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship, and fellowships from MacDowell, The Blue Mountain Center, Ucross, and Yaddo. She is co-editor of What Future 2018 (Unnamed Press), a founding member of NeuWrite, and the host of Convergence: a show about the future. Her nonfiction book about the climate crisis, Is It OK to Have a Child?, is forthcoming from Random House in the US and Chatto & Windus in the UK.
Colin Dickerman is VP and editorial director for nonfiction at Grand Central Publishing. Dickerman held senior editorial and management positions at FSG, Bloomsbury, Penguin Press, and Macmillan’s Flatiron Books imprint, which he helped to launch. Among the titles he has acquired are Promise Me, Dad by President Joe Biden, 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown, How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg, Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott, and My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler. He also edited the Man Booker Prize and NBCC Award–winning novel The Sellout by Paul Beatty.
Marc Favreau is the editorial director of The New Press. He is a co-editor (with Ira Berlin and Steven F. Miller) of Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation and the editor of A People’s History of World War II: The World’s Most Destructive Conflict, as Told by the People Who Lived Through It, both published by The New Press. He lives in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
John Freeman is the founder of the literary annual Freeman’s and editor of multiple anthologies, including The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story (2021). Other books include How to Read a Novelist, The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox, and three volumes of poetry, Maps, The Park, and Trees, Wind. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and has appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times. He is an executive editor at Knopf.
Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based professor, curator, activist, and is author of the essay collection The Reckonings, the memoir The Other Side — both National Book Critics Circle Award finalists — and the memoir Trespasses. She is editor, with the graphic designer Cheryl Beckett, of More City Than Water: A Houston Flood Atlas. Her writing has appeared in The Best American Essays, The Best American Travel Writing, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Orion, Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. She teaches creative nonfiction at Rice University and is the Founding Director of the Houston Flood Museum. In 2020 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for General Nonfiction.
Sarah Laskow is a reporter, writer, and editor based in New York City. Currently, she is a senior editor for science at The Atlantic. Her stories are rooted in history and science, and she writes often about plants, the politics of the environment and energy, cities, food, transportation, books, libraries, and medieval culture. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” New York, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Foreign Policy, Lucky Peach, and many other publications.
Jonathan Lethem is the author of eleven novels, five short story collections, and several nonfiction books, for which he has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is presently the Roy E. Disney Professor in Creative Writing at Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he teaches creative writing and literature.
Robert Macfarlane is the author of books about nature, place and people including Underland (2019), Landmarks (2015), The Old Ways (2012) and (with artist Jackie Morris), The Lost Words (2017) and The Lost Spells (2020). His work is translated into thirty languages, and has been widely adapted for film, television, radio, stage and music. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.
Tiya Miles is the author of six books about race, place, and family, including the multiple prize-winning histories The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits (2017), The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (2010), and Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (2005, 2015). She has published historical fiction as well as opinion pieces and essays in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and other media outlets. Her work has been supported by a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her latest book, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (2021) was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Darlene Clark Hine Award in African American Women’s History and Lawrence Levine Award in Cultural History from the Organization of American Historians, the PEN America John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction. All That She Carried was named A Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, NPR, Publisher’s Weekly, The Atlantic, Time, and more. Miles taught on the faculty of the University of Michigan for sixteen years and is currently the Michael Garvey Professor of History and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at Harvard University.
Elizabeth (Biz) Mitchell is an Executive Editor at HarperOne, editing narrative nonfiction, memoir, essays, investigative projects, self-help, and cultural and political histories. She was executive editor of John Kennedy, Jr.’s George magazine, features editor at SPIN, and senior digital longform writer at the Daily News. She served as executive editor on such titles as The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, foreword by Bill Clinton. She is also a journalist and the author of four nonfiction books. At HarperOne, she will be publishing upcoming titles by Simon Doonan, George McCalman, Alvin Hall, Dr. Luana Marques, Michael Azerrad, NPR, Darcey Steinke, Evelyn McDonnell and Craig Foster, among others.
Sumanth Prabhaker is the editor of the environmental magazine Orion. On the side he runs the operations of Madras Press, a charitable publisher whose catalog includes work by Donald Barthelme, Lydia Davis, and David Foster Wallace. He lives in Northampton MA.
Emily Raboteau writes at the intersection of social and environmental justice, race, and parenthood. Since the publication of the 2018 IPCC report the majority of her work has focused on the climate crisis. Her next book, Lessons for Survival is forthcoming next year from Holt. Bylines include The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, BOMB, VQR, and the Guardian. She’s a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, a contributing editor at Orion Magazine, and a professor of creative writing at the City College of New York, CUNY, in Harlem, where she teaches climate writing.
Hilary Redmon is Vice President, Executive Editor at Random House. She publishes narrative and journalistic nonfiction with a concentration on books about science, natural history, systemic injustice, memoir, philosophy, American history, and books that blend these categories in compelling ways. Some of the books she’s edited and published include An Immense World and I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong, Educated by Tara Westover, Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, Otherlands by Thomas Halliday, Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz, The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge, Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. Upcoming books include Is it Ok to Have a Child by Meehan Crist, The Symphony of Earth by Ferris Jabr, Children of the Flood by Vann Newkirk II, and Saving Time by Jenny Odell.
Tory Stephens lives in a small railroad town in Massachusetts. From there he creates opportunities that transform organizations and shift culture. He is a resource generator and community builder for social justice issues, people, and movements. Tory worked in individual giving campaigns and major donor relationship management for 13 years before joining Fix, Grist’s solutions lab, as their network weaver and climate fiction creative manager. Tory has used storytelling in the past to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS, to defend medicaid and medicare, and to protect the Affordable Care Act. Now, as the creative manager of Imagine 2200, Fix’s climate-fiction initiative, he uses storytelling to champion climate justice, and imagine green, clean and just futures.
Pitchaya Sudbanthad is the author of the novel Bangkok Wakes to Rain, selected as a notable book of the year by The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. He has received fellowships in fiction writing from the New York Foundation for the Arts and MacDowell, and currently splits time between Bangkok and Brooklyn.
Morgan Talty is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation where he grew up. He is the author of the story collection Night of the Living Rez from Tin House Books, and his work has appeared in Granta, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, Narrative Magazine, LitHub, and elsewhere. A winner of the 2021 Narrative Prize, Talty’s work has been supported by the Elizabeth George Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts (2022). Talty is an Assistant Professor of English in Creative Writing and Native American and contemporary Literature at the University of Maine, Orono, and he is on the faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in creative writing as well as the Institute of American Indian Arts. Talty is also a Prose Editor at The Massachusetts Review. He lives in Levant, Maine.
Jeff VanderMeer is author of the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy, which has been translated into over 35 languages. The first novel, Annihilation, won the Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award, and was made into a movie by Paramount in 2018. Recent works include Hummingbird Salamander and A Peculiar Peril, in addition to Theo Ellsworth’s graphic novel adaptation of his short story Secret Life. The novels Dead Astronauts, Borne (a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award) and The Strange Bird are being developed for TV by AMC and continue to explore themes related to the environment, animals, and our future. Called “the weird Thoreau” by The New Yorker, VanderMeer has lived in Florida since he was in middle school, attending the University of Florida in Gainesville before moving to Tallahassee in 1992. He speaks frequently about environmental issues and his nonfiction has appeared in Current Affairs, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Orion, and The Atlantic online, among others.
Matt Weiland is a Vice President and Senior Editor at W. W. Norton & Company, the century-old independent and employee-owned publishing house in New York City.