CAMDEN – Camden residents can be part of a book club in the thousands, when the classic novel Bless Me, Ultima is celebrated through lively discussions and innovative activities by Rutgers-Camden’s Center for the Arts during spring 2013.
Thanks to a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Rutgers–Camden center will motivate new and returning readers to Rudolfo Anaya’s acclaimed work as a grantee of The Big Read.
Camden is home to two of the nation’s 78 selected Big Read sites; UrbanPromise Ministries has also been awarded a grant to promote reading of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.
This selection marks Rutgers–Camden’s third year as a Big Read site. The campus previously served New Jersey as a Big Read site in 2010 and 2011.
Launched in 2006, NEA’s The Big Read program promotes a lifelong love of reading by uniting communities across the nation in discussion and celebration of one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. Rutgers–Camden aims to connect approximately 2,000 New Jerseyeans to the influential book and each other and has already begun coordinating with Camden City schools by agreeing to provide 500 books for 11th graders enrolled in American Literature courses.
“Camden will be an exciting place in spring of 2013 during Rutgers-Camden’s third program of The Big Read,’” offers Noreen Scott Garrity, associate director and curator of education for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts. “Our community participants eagerly anticipate the next book and look forward to the lectures and related programming events. We are asked frequently what our next Big Read book will be.”
Beginning the two-month celebration in March, the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts will host a number of events organized around Bless Me, Ultima, including a festive kick-off event where copies of the book will be distributed; multiple discussions; a related stage performance; a visual arts component; and distribution of a companion book for young readers. Public programs will be free of charge and open to all Camden residents.
First published in 1972, Bless Me, Ultima has been regarded as a highly influential work in both American and Chicano literature. Set in rural New Mexico in the 1940s, the coming-of-age novel depicts protagonist Antonio Marez’s struggles with spirituality.
In partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest, The Big Read offers grants ranging from $2,500 to $17,050 to promote and carry out community-based programs. Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title.
The Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts seeks to provide performances, exhibitions, education programs, and community projects, that inspire a full appreciation and enjoyment of the arts, create meaningful opportunities to participate in the arts, advance the central role of the arts in preK-12 education, and increase awareness of the arts as essential to cultural, economic, and community vitality.
For additional information about The Big Read at Rutgers–Camden, contact Noreen Scott Garrity at (856) 225-6306.
For more information about Rutgers–Camden news stories, visit us at news.rutgers.edu/medrel
Media Contact: Cathy K. Donovan