The 18th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future took place on May 9, 2019 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library in Santa Barbara, California.

This year’s speaker was Elaine Scarry. Scarry teaches at Harvard University, where she is the Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value. She lectures nationally and internationally on nuclear war, law, literature, and medicine.

She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Studies in Palo Alto, and the Getty Research Center in Los Angeles.

Ms. Scarry has received the Truman Capote Award for literary criticism, and most recently, the Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for being a writer “of progressive, original, and experimental tendencies.”

In her recent book, Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom, Scarry describes the alarming power of one leader to annihilate millions by launching nuclear weapons, arguing that this power is at odds with the principles of democracy.

Ms. Scarry’s work could not be more relevant to the geopolitical climate of today.

“I realized that nuclear war much more closely approximates the model of torture than the model of war because there’s zero consent from the many millions of people affected by it.”

Frank K. Kelly

The Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future was established by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 2002. The lecture series honors the vision and compassion of the late Frank K. Kelly, a founder and senior vice president of NAPF. Each year, a lecture is presented by a distinguished individual to explore humanity’s present circumstances and ways by which we can shape a more promising future for our planet and its inhabitants. For more information on the first 17 years of the Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future, click here.