July 28, 2015 Third Blumberg Dialogue to Focus on Astrobiology and the Arts, Aug. 5-6

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213
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The third Blumberg Dialogue on Astrobiology, hosted by the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will examine how recent discoveries about the origins and future of life in the cosmos may influence culture, art and the stories we tell about life on earth and beyond.

The public portion of the program, titled “Stories about Life in the Cosmos: Historical, Cultural, and Artistic Perspectives on Astrobiology” will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6, in room 119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

The three-part Blumberg Dialogue series is part of the Kluge Center’s ongoing Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Program, which investigates the intersection of astrobiology research with humanistic and societal concerns. The first Blumberg Dialogue was held on March 18-19 and the second took place May 27-28. Details of the events are posted on the Kluge Center website at www.loc.gov/kluge/.

  • David Bates, Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
  • D. Graham Burnett, Professor of History, Princeton University
  • Andrea Hairston, Louis Wolff Khan Professor of Theatre and African American Studies, Smith College
  • Ursula Heise, Professor of English, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Kenneth Knoespel, McEver Professor of Engineering and the Liberal Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Robert Marzec, Associate Professor of English, Purdue University
  • Colin Milburn, Professor of English, Science and Technology Studies, University of California, Davis
  • Marc Raboy, Professor of Ethics, Media, and Communications, McGill University
  • Blakey Vermeule, Professor of English, Stanford University

The nine scholars will spend Aug. 5 and part of Aug. 6 in seminar work examining readings and research about recent findings in astrobiology. In these discussions, they will share their expertise about how the origins of life on earth and the possible discovery of life on other planets have been depicted in both artistic and broader cultural narratives. The scholars will then participate in the afternoon public roundtable to discuss their findings and insights. Both the seminar and the public discussion will be led by Derek Malone-France, associate professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Religion at The George Washington University, and John Baross, professor in the School of Oceanography and in the Astrobiology Program at the University of Washington.

The three-part series—titled Blumberg Dialogues in honor of late Nobel Laureate Baruch "Barry" Blumberg, founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and former member of the Library of Congress Scholars Council—is held in lieu of an appointment to the NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Chair in 2015. Nathaniel Comfort, a professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine at The John Hopkins University, has been named to the chair for 2016. He will begin on Oct. 1, 2015, and be in residence at the Library’s Kluge Center for 12 months.

The NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Chair and the Blumberg Dialogues are the result of collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. Funded by NASA, and executed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the program promotes research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and societal implications. Chairs are appointed annually to be in residence at The John W. Kluge Center, to make use of the Library of Congress collections, as well as to convene related programs that ensure the subject of astrobiology’s role in culture and society receives considered treatment each year in Washington, D.C.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site, in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 15-128
ISSN 0731-3527