January 2023 Program

Hummingbirds’ abundant fascinations have earned them a prominent but under-examined place in cultural history. Reaching back to the pre-Colombian Americas—particularly to the Aztec’s chief god, Huītzilōpōchtli, who was named for and often figured as a hummingbird, and forward, via WWII to the present day, Comet will explain how the bird evolved from a bloodthirsty deity into a transatlantic metaphor and commodity.

Noah Comet is a professor of English at the United States Naval Academy. He is widely published in the field of nineteenth-century British studies, his credits including a 2013 book from Macmillan Press and many essays in scholarly journals. He is also a certified State of Maryland Master Naturalist, an avid outdoorsman, and a nature writer. A native of northeastern Ohio, he traces his love of birds to (among other things) a surprise encounter with a Barred Owl in Cleveland, who landed on a branch just inches from his head and shared several minutes with him in silent, mutual curiosity. Since then, Comet has made it one of his life goals to see all of America’s owl species; he’s more than halfway there. He lives in Annapolis with his wife and 10-year-old son.