Office of Public Affairs

Best-selling Author Ken Jennings To Speak at USM

Self-proclaimed “geography wonk” Ken Jennings will be at the University of Southern Maine on Wednesday, October 10, for a free, public presentation based on his national bestseller, “Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird, World of Geography Wonks.”

Jennings will give the free, public lecture, “Cartophilia: Navigating the Strange Appeal of Maps,” at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 10, in the Abromson Community Center’s Hannaford Lecture Hall, Bedford Street, Portland. A book signing will take place at 6 p.m. in the lobby, followed by his keynote presentation at 6:30 p.m.

Please note that seating is limited and will be available on a first come, first-served basis.  

USM’s Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, is hosting the lecture, which is part of the International Visual Literacy Association’s annual conference.  Jennings' visit is made possible thanks to the Osher Map Library's Mattson-New York Times Lecture, which was established by the New York Times Foundation in 1994 to honor their retired president, Walter E. Mattson, a graduate of Portland Junior College (one of USM's predecessor institutions).

Jennings has prepared the lecture to focus on his latest book, “Maphead.” According to his publisher, Simon and Schuster, the book “recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere.” In the book, Jennings, who as a child slept with a word atlas by his pillow, explores why maps are so fascinating to him and why reading them is as relevant today as ever. 

Jennings is nationally known for his appearances on the popular television quiz show “Jeopardy!” where he won 74 consecutive games and was awarded a jackpot of $2.52 million, both of which are American game show records. From there, Jennings went on to be a guest on popular talk shows such as “The Tonight Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” He also co-invented two trivia games and wrote two previous books, with his 2006 publication “Braniac” becoming a national bestseller.