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March 27, 2024

Poet Claudia Rankine, physicist Brian Greene, and neuroscientist and artist Bevil Conway are the keynote speakers for this year’s Utah Symposium in Science and Literature, taking place from April 10-12 at the Eccles Alumni House on campus.

Claudia Rankine is the author of “Citizen: An American Lyric,” a New York Times bestseller, as well as four other books of poetry and three plays. She is the founder of The Racial Imaginary Institute, an NEA fellow, a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and a professor at NYU. Brian Greene is renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory and is known to the public through his books, “The Elegant Universe,” “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” and “The Hidden Reality,” which have collectively spent 65 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. He is a professor of physics and mathematics and the director of Columbia University’s Center for Theoretical Physics. Bevil Conway is a senior investigator at the National Eye Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health, and an expert on the neuroscience of color. His artwork is in the Boston Public Library, the Fogg University Art Rental Collection, the N.I.H. Building 35 Public Art Collection, and many private collections.

The Utah Symposium returns this year after a long Covid hiatus, and will feature the involvement of U professors and grad students from numerous departments and disciplines, from English to math to music to philosophy. The theme of this year’s Symposium is “Mere Beauty,” a topic arising from the reexaminations of beauty occurring not only in the arts and humanities, but also in biology, where dominant theories about the possible evolutionary purposes of beauty are being questioned.

Co-chairs Fred Adler, Professor of Biology and Mathematics, and Katharine Coles, Distinguished Professor of English, developed the Symposium’s theme together. Coles explains, “In some ways, the topic of Beauty as a topic of interdisciplinary discussion and examination seems very abstract. However, I think it has become my favorite Symposium topic so far. It seems to touch on every discipline and, in many ways, on every aspect of our lives. Nature seems to have built us to respond to beauty; it’s hard not to wonder why.”


Read the full article about the symposium in @TheU.

The Utah Symposium is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit