Thanks to a personal connection MTSU Political Economy Research Institute Director Dan Smith has with Lubbock, Texas-based The Remnant Trust, MTSU is the recipient of rare books and manuscripts on loan for University Honors College students to utilize this spring with the annual Honors Lecture Series.
The valuable books and papers include “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius, “Machiavelli the Prince,” rare Bibles, Sir Isaac Newton’s “The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and more for a lecture series called “Exegesis” — a term Honors College Associate Dean Philip Phillips said is “more usually found in religious studies.”
“But in our case, though, it refers more broadly to ‘the critical explanation or interpretation of texts,’” said Phillips.
Beginning Monday, Jan. 31, the lectures will take place at 3 p.m. every Monday, except March 7 during spring break, through April 4 in Room 106 of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.
The lectures have been a staple each fall and spring for more than two decades, featuring topics and presenters from multiple disciplines on and off campus. To view a schedule — with dates, presenters and topics — go here.
“We are using ‘Exegesis’ as a way of pulling together the diverse books from the disciplines of philosophy, economics, biblical/religious studies, physics/astronomy/history of science, early European literature/poetry, political science, women’s studies and history that will be critically discussed by some of our honors residential and Buchanan faculty,” Phillips said.’
“As an MT Engage class, our Honors Lecture Series on ‘Exegesis’ will give students the opportunity to see, touch and even hold most of the rare books that are on loan to us for this purpose by Remnant Trust,” Phillips added. “As a researcher who frequently visits rare books’ libraries and archives, I highly value this sort of firsthand engagement with historical texts.”
Smith said the spring exhibit will feature over 25 rare books and texts written by famous authors such as Edmund Burke, Niccolò Machiavelli, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Galilei Galileo, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Isaac Newton, Paine and Voltaire.
“The ‘Exegesis’ lecture series is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visually and physically interact with these texts while learning from academic researchers who have, in some cases, spent a good portion of their scholarly careers wrestling with these classical works,” Smith said. “Reading the classics remains one of the most fruitful ways to develop well-rounded college students with honed critical thinking skills.
“The PERI is excited to continue our successful relationship with The Remnant Trust to host rare book and text exhibits on campus. This year, we partnered with the University Honors College to provide a semester-long experience open to MTSU students, faculty and the broader Middle Tennessee community. The Honors College Lecture Series, ‘Exegesis,’ will host faculty with specialized expertise who will analyze these books and texts on topics including political economy, literature, and science.”
Previous PERI-sponsored exhibits include displays on foundational American documents, human rights and African American history, Smith added.
The Remnant Trust, housed at Texas Tech University, is a public educational foundation sharing a growing collection of manuscripts, first edition and early works dealing with the topics of individual liberty and human dignity. Some of its pieces date as early as 2500 B.C.
The Remnant Trust makes its collection available to colleges, universities and other organizations for use by students, faculty, scholars and the public. People are encouraged to touch, feel and read the originals, including first English translations.
In addition to Smith and Phillips, other faculty presenting lectures during this spring’s series include:
• Honors Dean John Vile.
• Dr. Rebekka King, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.
• Dr. Eric Klumpe, Department of Physics and Astronomy.
• Dr. Ennio Piano, Department of Economics and Finance.
• Dr. Joan McRae, Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
• Dr. Mary Evins, Department of History.
• Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center at MTSU.
Evins is credited with naming the series “Exegesis.”
Mainly a class for students, the lectures are also free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and Phillips said the Honors College “urges caution and strongly encourages people to wear masks, wash (their) hands and be careful when touching the books.”
An MTSU parking map is available at https://bit.ly/MTSUParking. Off-campus visitors can get a one-day permit at https://mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php or park free in the university’s Rutherford Boulevard Lot and ride the Raider Xpress shuttle to the Honors Building at 1737 Blue Raider Drive.
The manuscripts will be displayed in the Honors College Dean’s Suite, Room 205, for public viewing, said Tatum Hochstetler, Honors College coordinator. She added that the texts on display will be rotated weekly, depending on the lecture series topic.
For more information, contact Hochstetler at 615-494-7767 or Tatum.Hochstetler@mtsu.edu.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)