‘Annihilation’ author to speak at Honors convocation

Published 3:57 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

Research symposium to be held before Feb. 26 event in Ford Center

By Erin Garrett
University of Mississippi Communications

The University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College will welcome “Annihilation” author Jeff VanderMeer as keynote speaker for its annual Spring Convocation on Feb. 26.

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Free and open to the public, the event will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Jeff VanderMeer. (Photo by Kyle Cassidy)

“Jeff is excited about visiting the University of Mississippi for the first time and plans to discuss his career path, which had lots of obstacles and funny stories,” said Ethel Scurlock, dean of the Honors College. “He will also discuss why he is proactive in environmental efforts.

“Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer

“We believe that audience members will leave his talk better informed about critical issues that impact our world and inspired to continue making positive changes in their environments.”

VanderMeer’s New York Times-bestselling “Southern Reach” trilogy has been translated into more 35 languages. “Annihilation,” the first novel in the series, won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson awards.

The text, which was made into a movie by Paramount Pictures in 2018, follows four female scientists on an expedition into a mysterious environmental disaster zone called “Area X.”

“Annihilation” was selected as a core text at Ole Miss for the Hon 102 freshman seminar class, which addresses themes related to religion and the cosmos.

“VanderMeer will engage with universal questions like, ‘How do we interact with our environment? In what ways do humans seek meaning from their surroundings?'” said Jennifer Parsons, Honors College associate dean and instructional assistant professor. “We believe his keynote address will be encouraging and thought-provoking for all who attend.”

Other works by VanderMeer include “Hummingbird Salamander,” “A Peculiar Peril,” “Dead Astronauts,” “Borne,” which was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and “The Strange Bird.” The author has lectured on creative writing at MIT, Yale, Vanderbilt and Columbia universities.

Before VanderMeer’s speech, the college will host its third annual Honors Undergraduate Research Symposium at 6:30 p.m. in the Ford Center. The event features capstone work and other undergraduate research from a variety of disciplines.

“Attendees will have the opportunity to meet and engage with honors students, who will share posters and other visual mediums to showcase work in STEM, health sciences, social sciences, humanities and creative works,” Parsons said. “I encourage our LOU community to support our citizen scholars by attending this wonderfully informative symposium as a precursor to VanderMeer’s talk.”