Director’s Series

An ongoing series of public conversations with international figures in the humanities and arts by Nicholas Allen, Professor in Humanities and director of the Willson Center.

2021 – 2022

Cynthia Barnett

Date: Sept. 9, 2021

Cynthia Barnett, Environmental Journalist in Residence at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications in Gainesville, Florida, is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water and climate change around the world. Her new book, The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans (W. W. Norton, July 2021), is a natural and cultural history of seashells and the animals that make them—revealing what they have to tell us about nature, our changing oceans, and ourselves.

Barnett is also the author of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, which articulates a water ethic for America; and Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. She has written for National Geographic, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and many other publications.


Cynthia Barnett

Alan Parks

Date: Oct. 7, 2021

Alan Parks is the best-selling author of the Harry McCoy series of Glasgow noir mysteries.

Before beginning his writing career, Parks was creative director at London Records and Warner Music, where he marketed and managed artists including All Saints, New Order, The Streets, Gnarls Barkley, and Cee Lo Green. His love of music, musician lore, and even the industry, comes through in his prize-winning mysteries, which are saturated with the atmosphere of the 1970s music scene, grubby and drug-addled as it often was.

Parks’ debut novel, Bloody January, propelled him onto the international literary crime fiction circuit and won him praise, prizes, and success with readers. The second book in the Harry McCoy series, February’s Son, was a finalist for a MWA Edgar Award. Parks was born in Scotland, earned an M.A. in Moral Philosophy from the University of Glasgow, and still lives and works in the city he so vividly depicts in his Harry McCoy thrillers.

Advance registration for the event, which will be conducted via Zoom webinar, is required and available here.


Alan Parks