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Tangier Island in Virginia is a community unique in the American landscape. Settled during the American Revolution, it has lost two-thirds of its land since 1850, much of that in the last 40 years as its shoreline retreats by 15 feet a year. This storied place will likely be the first U.S. town to succumb to the effects of climate change.
In his book, "Chesapeake Requiem," acclaimed journalist Earl Swift takes an intimate look at Tangier Island’s past, present and tenuous future. As experts predict that its residents will be forced to abandon their homes within 25 years, Swift chronicles how the conservative and deeply religious people of Tangier ponder the end times.
At this panel discussion, Steven Beschloss, head of ASU’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative and professor of practice in the Cronkite School, will interview Swift about his reporting for "Chesapeake Requiem." They will then be joined on stage by religious studies professor Tracy Fessenden for a deep dive into the apocalyptic thinking of Tangier Island’s residents, and how their views reflect deeper trends in American responses toward climate change.
Free and open to the public, but RSVPs are kindly requested
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Journalist Earl Swift has earned a reputation for deeply immersive reporting, vivid storytelling, accuracy and fairness in a career spanning more than 30 years. He has written seven books and hundreds of major features for newspapers and magazines. A former Fulbright fellow, he has been a residential fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia since 2012.
Tracy Fessenden is the Steve and Margaret Forster Professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies and director of strategic initiatives at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Her work focuses on the relationship between religion and the secular in American law, culture and public life. She is the author of "Religion Around Billie Holiday," and "Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature."
Steven Beschloss (moderator) is senior director for narrative development in ASU media relations, he leads ASU’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative and is a professor of practice in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. An award-winning writer, editor, journalist, filmmaker and content strategist, he is currently at work on a film project documenting the impact of climate change on the Navy’s shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia.
This public event is part of an initiative on “Apocalypticism, Climate Change, and the American Imagination,” a partnership between the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, the Global Futures Laboratory, and the Narrative Storytelling Initiative.
The event will be live-streamed at: https://asunow.asu.edu/asulive