Deserts, future climate change featured in ASU lecture series

September 26, 2016

The School of Earth and Space Exploration continues its fall semester New Discoveries Lecture Series with "Dry, drier, driest: How will deserts respond to changing climate?" a talk by Heather Throop, associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Life Sciences.

Desert and semi-desert environments cover nearly half of the world's land surface. Organisms living in these harsh environments must battle to survive extreme conditions. Are desert organisms likely to thrive under future climate change? Or, are they already pushed to extremes and particularly vulnerable to climate change? What role might deserts play in affecting climate change? Heather Throop Heather Throop, associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Life Sciences. Download Full Image

Join Heather Throop, who specializes in climate change and arid environments, to explore what we know — and are still discovering — about Earth’s driest places, including deserts in Australia and southern Africa, and our own Sonoran Desert.

The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29 in the ISTB4 building on the Tempe campus. The event is free, however an RSVP is requested. 

Throop's research is primarily based in drylands (arid and semi-arid ecosystems), which are home to a large and rapidly increasing portion of the world's human population. These systems are particularly critical in many developing nations where human livelihoods are often tightly linked to sustainable use of drylands. Prior to joining ASU, Throop was on the faculty at New Mexico State University and was a 2015 Fulbright Research/Teaching Scholar at the Namibia University of Science & Technology.

The New Discoveries Lecture Series brings exciting scientific work to the general public in a series of informative evening lectures, free and open to the public, each given by a member of the School of Earth and Space Exploration faculty once a month throughout the academic year.

Additional lectures in this Fall series will be presented Oct. 20 by Kip Hodges, founding director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and on Nov. 17 by Steven Semken, professor of geoscience education and geological sciences. 

Lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Marston Exploration Theater, located on the first floor of ASU's Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB4) (map) on the Tempe Campus, RSVP to reserve a seat. Parking is available at the Rural Road parking structure just east of ISTB 4.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration


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ASU Libraries acquire English Renaissance texts

Chaucer codices include a 1550 Chaucer publication edited by William Thynne.
Books formerly belonged to Phoenix businessman and collector Robert A. Lawler.
September 26, 2016

Works include Geoffrey Chaucer, Francis Bacon, John Milton, Ovid, Sir Walter Raleigh, Jonathan Swift and William Shakespeare

For six centuries, Geoffrey Chaucer’s work has stirred continued re-examination, modern adaptations and fresh insight into English society in the 14th century. Now, scholars studying Chaucer, his contemporaries and the evolution of language in the Middle Ages will have access to a collection of rare, early printed books acquired by Arizona State University Libraries that promise new understanding of the classic works.

The codices, which date to the early 16th century, include varied editions of the collected works of Chaucer — notably, a circa 1550 publication edited by William Thynne — a decorative first illustrated edition of Ranulf Higden’s "Polycronicon" and literature by Francis Bacon, Robert Fabyan, Richard Grafton, Ben Jonson, John Milton, Ovid, Sir Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spenser, Jonathan Swift and William Shakespeare.

The Chaucer texts contain "The Canterbury Tales" as well as the Chaucerian apocrypha, or works that were wrongly attributed to the author. According to professor of English and medieval studies Richard Newhauser, the apocrypha indicate Chaucer’s importance during his lifetime: it seemed as if almost any anonymous writing with literary value, especially a text related to women or love, was quick to be associated with the poet.

The libraries’ new collection brings together many of these texts in the same place for the first time in the Southwest. Some contain margin notes by early English readers or are structured differently than how the story is presented today.

“In some cases, these volumes are the only places the Chaucerian apocrypha exist together, and now we have them at ASU,” Newhauser said.

The books formerly belonged to Phoenix businessman and collector Robert A. Lawler. ASU’s procurement ensures they will remain part of Arizona’s heritage and will be accessible to scholars locally and from across the globe.

Plans are already in place to include the collection in the university’s biennial Chaucer Celebration alongside medieval music, food, drama and lectures from visiting professors. The next festival is planned for 2018, in the days leading up to Easter to correspond with when Chaucer’s name was first mentioned in archival documents in 1357.

Newhauser intends to study the texts to prepare "The Chaucer Encyclopedia," the first full compilation of Chaucer’s life, work and times, for which he is general editor and which will be published in four volumes. Current ASU doctoral students are pursuing research related to the collection’s Shakespearian editions and to the glossing, or margin notations, in the Chaucerian books.

“Books like those in the Lawler collection give scholars and students a precious opportunity to see and touch and even smell the past. We can think better about the past and thus about our present when we have the opportunity to work with them,” said University Librarian Jim O’Donnell.

The three dozen books that make up the ASU Libraries’ Lawler collection can be viewed in the Hayden Library Luhrs Reading Room by appointment through the Archives and Special Collections Reference Services.

Top photo: “Polycronicon” by Ranulf Higden; printed by Peter Treueris, 1527: The Polycronicon is considered the most important text pertaining to the history of England in the 16th century and is the first English book in which musical notation appears. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Beth Giudicessi