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George Handley

Associate Director
Faculty Center Administrators

3770 C HBLL
Provo, UT


A Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brigham Young University, George B. Handley’s creative writing, literary criticism, and civic engagement focus on the intersection between religion, literature, and the environment. A literary scholar and ecocritic whose work is characterized by its comparative reach across the cultures and landscapes of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States, he is also known for creative writing that uniquely blends nature writing, theology, and family history. He is a leading advocate for and scholar of environmental stewardship within the Latter-day Saint tradition and a passionate believer in the public humanities.

Handley’s initial scholarly interests in literature of the Americas led to the publication of Postslavery Literatures of the Americas: Family Portraits in Black and White (University of Virginia Press, 2000), but when he came into contact with ecocriticism in the 90s while teaching at Northern Arizona University, his research began to apply ecocriticism to the lessons learned in his inter-American research. This resulted in his second book, New World Poetics: Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda, and Walcott (University of Georgia Press, 2007). His hire at Brigham Young University in 1998 presented an opportunity to explore the relevance of environmental ethics to his own religious experience as a Latter-day Saint and in the landscape of his birth and early childhood. Having been encouraged by the poet Derek Walcott to write creatively after they met in 2000, he began keeping a nature journal of reflections on his encounters with his home watershed of the Provo River. This led to the publication of the environmental memoir, Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River (University of Utah Press, 2010). While he has continued to publish in the humanities as a postcolonialist, including two major co-edited projects, Caribbean Literature and the Environment (Virginia 2006) and Postcolonial Ecologies (Oxford 2011), he has also published numerous essays on Latter-day Saint belief and the environment and on the intersection between religion, literature, and the environment more generally. More recently, he has a collection of personal essays, Learning to Like Life: A Tribute to Lowell Bennion and an environmentally-themed novel, American Fork, with John Hunt Publishers, Roundfire Books. His collection of essays, If Truth Were a Child, is published with the Maxwell Institute and explores the relationship between the humanities and belief, and his contribution to the co-authored book, Climate Change Scepticism: A Transnational Ecocritical Analysis, explores the theological roots of climate skepticism in American culture.

When he is not teaching, writing, or doing administration, he enjoys public speaking and writing for the public on environmental values and pursues his passion for community by serving in his local church community and on the Provo City Council.

He was born in Utah, raised in Connecticut, and did all his formal schooling in California at Stanford University (BA in Comparative Literature in 1989) and at UC Berkeley (MA and PhD in Comparative Literature in 1991, 1995). His wife, Amy, is a Nurse Practitioner, and they are the proud parents of four children.


PhD, Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, 1995
MA, Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, 1991
BA, Comparative Literature, Stanford University,1989

Professional Activities:
George B. Handley has taught at BYU since 1998 where he is a Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities. He served as chair of the Department of Humanities, Classics and Comparative Literature from 2012 - 2015 and served as Associate Dean of the College of Humanities from 2015 - 2018. His current appointment is Associate Director of the Faculty Center at BYU and he has been elected as a Provo City Council Member for District 2.

He is an educator and author who has been civically engaged for many years. He received his BA in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and his PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley and he researches and writes about the intersection of religion, literature, and the environment.

Handley's works include Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River (2010), New World Poetics: Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda, and Walcott (2007), Stewardship and Creation: LDS Perspectives on the Environment, Postslavery Literatures in the Americas (2005): Family Portraits in Black and White (2000), and American Fork (2017).

He and his wife Amy have four children and live in Provo, Utah.