Document Type

Grant Application


The Honors College


see attached



Project Period

FY 2013-2014

Event Sponsor

Cultural Affairs/ Distinguished Lecture Series

Project Abstract/ Summary

The Honors College seeks partial funding to invite noted author Mary Doria Russell to serve as the John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics and to present a lecture entitled, The Age of Discovery from Spain to Space, on April 16,2014, exact time to be determined. The venue will most likely be Minksy Recital Hall. Russell is the author of several novels including The Sparrow, which was selected as the 2013 Honors College Read. With the visit of Dr. Russell, the College is able combine the traditions of the Rezendes Ethics Lecture and that of inviting the author of the Honors Read to meet with students in the year that the book is selected for use.

Mary Doria Russell has been called one of the most versatile writers in American literature and one of our greatest contemporary storytellers. Her novels are critically acclaimed commercial successes; studied in literature, theology and history courses in colleges and universities; and often chosen as book club and "community read" selections, Russell's first novel, The Sparrow (1996), was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and won the Arthur C. Clarke Prize, the British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel, in 1998. The Sparrow introduces the theme of the Ethics of Discovery, which is also the topic of the2014 Rezendes Ethics Essay competition, an annual contest open to all UMaine undergraduates. At its best, exploration and discovery generate insights into the role of the other, nature, meaning and oneself, as well as grand advances for humanity as a whole. At its worst, it is a process of appropriation, domination, social hegemony and environmental destruction, and is marred by a history of genocide and enslavement. The relationship of these approaches yields a discourse on the nature of discovery, which Russell compellingly grapples with in The Sparrow.

In addition to the over 300 first-year Honors students who have studied The Sparrow, we anticipate attracting a fairly large audience composed of students, faculty, and other members of the University of Maine community. In addition, our outreach to the larger community including a Fall 2013 presentation at the Bangor Book Festival will bring in non-university folks. We are also planning to hold a book signing following the lecture. In order to advertise for this exciting event, the Honors College will send invitations to alumni and friends, and will distribute modern black-and-white 11" by 14" posters. We also send posters to our sponsors and keep a framed copy as academic art pieces in the Thomson Honors Center in Colvin Hall. We ask the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecturer Series committee for $3,200 to help fund the honorarium of the 2014 John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics. Of a total program budget of $7,067, the Honors College commits 83,367 and will also be seeking a $500 commitment from the UMaine Humanities Initiative.