The mission of New York Council for the Humanities (NYCH) is to reach general, diverse audiences, providing them with engaging speakers on important humanities topics that everyone will find interesting or useful. Any non-profit organization in New York state can request a NYCH Public Scholar to speak, at no cost to the host organization. I am currently serving as a Public Scholar (2015-2017) and I offer three topics (below) which I can adapt to any audience, if desired. If you are interested in hosting one of these lectures, contact the Council. There is an application and a small application fee, but don’t let that dissuade you. The fee can be waived if requested, and if you need help with the application you can contact me at alexander (at) dactyl (dot) org
Nabokov’s Unorthodox Theory of Insect Mimicry: why science needs more artists
photo credit: Rahul K. Natu
It’s a commonplace to say that good science requires imagination, yet scientist aren’t really encouraged to read poetry or to take up painting. Maybe they should. This talk will present the example of Vladimir Nabokov, renown Russian-American novelist and butterfly scientist who used his artistic knowledge to understand how evolution can work. He went against the prevailing theories of his day and was attacked for being unscientific, but recently some of his work has been vindicated by DNA analysis, showing that his artistic guesses were amazingly accurate and precise. Continue reading
Vladimir Nabokov might be best known as a novelist, specifically as the author of Lolita, but what many might not know is that one of his deepest passions was studying butterflies.
Now, a new book from Yale University Press honors his dedication to the delicate creatures. The book, Fine Lines, is a collection of more than 150 of his scientific illustrations of butterflies, rivaling John James Audubon in their detail.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11 7 PM FREE
“Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry: The Artist as Scientist”
Victoria N Alexander
Public Scholars, NY Council for the Humanities: In collaboration with the NY Council for the Humanities, the Rosendale Public Library presents a slide/lecture on the controversial novelist and lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, that reveals his insights into the mysteries of mimicry and how the scientific community responded to his studies. Fantastic images of insect mimicry will be used as examples of how important art is to good science. This event is made possible through the Public Scholars program with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“….I also enjoyed Victoria Alexander’s Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes, and the ‘Non-Utilitarian Delights’ of Butterfly Mimicry… While some of the science is quite technical, her writing is clear and also lyrical.” Continue reading