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George Michelsen Foy

Finding North: How Navigation Makes Us Human

"2016-17 CUSP Inaugural Lecture"

Thursday, September 22, 2016
6:00–8:00 p.m. 
Rennert Hall, The Kraft Center

All life depends on movement: movement without figuring out where to go is useless. It follows that navigation is fundamental to how we live, to how we evolved. This talk will navigate not only how humans and animals find their way around, but also how we remember, talk, think and feel. From memory organs to satellites, salmon noses to London cabbies, we’ll discuss our direction-finding skills, how they’re changing—and why, in order not to lose our bearings, we desperately need to get lost more often.



George Michelsen Foy’s latest non-fiction book, Finding North: How Navigation Makes Us Human, examines how we find our way around space, emotions, and memory; it was published by Flatiron/Macmillan in May 2016. Foy’s previous non-fiction work examined the concept of silence: Zero Decibels came out in 2011. He has written thirteen novels (the latest in English entitled Mettle, 2010, under "GF Michelsen" at University Press of New England); other novels have been published by Bantam Doubleday, Viking Penguin, and Bastei Lubbe (Germany). His long-form non-fiction essays, on subjects such as the funeral industry, Filipino guerrillas, the Afghan war, and Bollywood, have appeared in Harper’s, Rolling Stone et al.; his short fiction with Monkey Bicycle, Apeiron, Notre Dame Review, American Literary Review, etc. A new novel, Enquête sur Kamanzi, will be published by Éditions Globophile, Paris, France this year. Foy, who was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction, lives in New England and New York, and teaches writing at NYU. A former investigative reporter, fishing boat captain, and navigating officer on British tramp freighters (not at the same time), he once also held down the job of chief cream-pastries transporter in a London factory.


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