2022 Hay Festival UWTSD INSPIRE & ASLE UK Lecture on Literature and Sustainability: Interactions and Connections


‘Solar Stories: How Writers Have Harnessed the Power of the Sun’

How has humanity sought to harness the power of the sun, and what roles have literature, art, and culture played in imagining the possibilities of solar energy?


Brycchan Carey, Professor Greg Lynall and Dr Jane Davidson at this year's Hay Festival.

Gregory Lynall, Professor of English at Liverpool University, explored the stories that have been told about solar power, from the Renaissance to the present day, how they have shaped developments in science and technology, and how they can help us think about solutions to the climate crisis at the 2022 Hay Festival UWTSD INSPIRE and ASLE UK Lecture on Literature and Sustainability: Interactions and Connections on May 30.

The annual Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation, Research and Enterprise (INSPIRE) Lecture is organised by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) and the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, UK, and Ireland (ASLE-UK). A publication of previous lectures, dating back to the first lecture in 2013, was also launched at this year’s event as part of celebrations to mark the University’s Bicentenary.

The INSPIRE lecture is competition-based and aims to highlight research which explores the relationship between literature and the sustainability debate. The judging panel invited submissions that explore how literature, in any of its forms, responds to and is shaped by our capacity to know the natural world in the context of debates around sustainability.

The lecture was followed by a public discussion between Professor Lynall, Dr Jane Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, founding director of INSPIRE and former Welsh Government Minister for Sustainability, and Professor Brycchan Carey, Professor of English Literature at Northumbria University and Vice-President of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, UK, and Ireland.

Professor Greg Lynall delivering his lecture at this year's Hay Festival.

Professor Carey said: “We are excited to continue supporting this important competition, now in its tenth year. Poets, playwrights, and novelists have long inspired people to describe and delight in the natural world and to think carefully about our relationship with the environment. As Gregory Lynall shows, writers have for centuries imagined the potential of solar energy, and it’s this sort of imagination and creativity that we need now to help create a sustainable future.”

Dr Davidson said: “‘Each year it is an enormous pleasure to engage with talented artists interested in nature and the environment who bring us new understandings due to their exceptional facility with words. The annual competition enables Hay visitors to witness the extraordinary talent that lies in our universities and creates an opportunity for reframing important issues. It was a great opportunity to explore what lies behind this year's winning lecture and also to re-experience previous lectures through the through the publication of the collection.”

The audience listening to the lecture delivered by Professor Greg Lynall at this year's Hay Festival.

Note to Editor

INSPIRE (Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation Research and Enterprise) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David was originally founded by Dr Jane Davidson. INSPIRE has evolved to ensure sustainable development underpins the university’s innovation, research, and enterprise strategy. It remains key to the University’s mission to embed sustainability into its own practices and to provide its students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will equip them for their future contribution to the economy, community, and environment.

INSPIRE @ UWTSD won the 2013 Guardian award for the most effective sustainability initiative in higher education in the UK, the 2014 Soil Association Gold Award for its support for local producers and in 2015, UWTSD rose up from 113th in the People and Planet University League to eighth in the UK and first in Wales.


The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK, and Ireland (ASLE-UKI) was founded in 1998. Its aim is to represent and support scholars and writers, in Great Britain, Ireland, and beyond, who are interested in the environment and its expression in the cultural imagination.

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