Announcement: Texas Book Fest

2014-TXBookFest_Texas Theatre photo by Dan Winters 1992

This weekend is Austin’s annual Texas Book Festival, and we here at AMS :: ATX would like to point to some people you might like to see while you’re at the Capitol this weekend.

First and foremost is our very own Steve Hoelscher, who will be talking about Reading Magnum, the book he edited celebrating the history and archive of the Magnum photographic agency, the latter of which is now part of the collection at the Harry Ransom Center, at 3:30 on Sunday. You can find more info about Dr. Hoelscher’s book here. Info on the talk can be found here.


With the rest of your weekend, here’s some other stuff to seek out:


At 10:00 AM, check out Adan Medrano, who will discuss Texas-Mexican American cuisine, or go hear Douglas Brinkley, John Dean, and Luke Nichter talk Richard Nixon’s presidency.

At 11:00 AM, Charles Blow talks his memoir Fire Shut Up In My Bones, while Tiphanie Yanique and Jess Row discuss Constructing Racial Identity in a globalized world at 11:30.

At 1:00 PM, Austinite Austin Kleon and Joshua Wolf Shenk have A Conversation on Creativity, while Ofir Touche Gafla and Jeff VanderMeer discuss science fiction in The Stuff of Stars at 1:45.

At 2:00 PM, novelist Elizabeth Crook talks Monday, Monday, her novelization of the Texas Tower Sniper.

At 3:00 PM, S.C. Gwynne discusses his new biography of Stonewall Jackson and Francis Fukuyama talks the development of political institutions and his new book Political Order, Political Decay.

At 4:00, Josh Ostergaard maps baseball onto American politics and culture in Let’s Play Ball, while Robert Bryce and Russell Gold talk the future of energy technology in Here Comes the Boom. 


11:15 AM, Tim Lane talks comics and his new book Lonesome Go.

12:00 PM, Adam Rogers discusses The Science of Booze.

At 1:30 PM, Luara Damon-Moore and Erinn Batykefer talk their book An Artist’s Library, their Library as Incubator Project and how to build strong relationships between artists and libraries.

At 2:15 PM, Michael Ruhlman tells of the many ways to cook an egg.

At 3:30, members of the cast and crew of the movie Boyhood, including director Richard Linklater and star Ellar Coltrane, come together to talk spending twelve years making a movie.

For a full schedule with room assignments, check our the Texas Book Festival schedule here.

Grad research: Carrie Andersen featured on Fox 7 for boxing training

One of the greatest perks of living in Austin is the vast amount of opportunities to engage with the community off campus. To that end, a Ph.D. candidate in our department, Carrie Andersen, was recently featured on Fox 7 news for her training at a boxing gym in south Austin called Austin Boxing Babes. She can be seen throughout this clip working with another gym member holding boxing mitts.


Carrie had this to say about the training process and its impact on her academic work:

It’s probably telling that I started boxing two days after I started studying for my qualifying exams. I needed to find a way to let my academic brain find some brief respite from the books for a few hours a night. Although I immediately realized it would be the hardest way I could spend my time – one hour of non-stop movement, strength-training, and boxing fundamentals is much easier than it sounds – I could not be more thrilled with training at this gym with other incredibly strong, supportive women.

Aside from the general health benefits of pretty hardcore physical training, boxing has supported my academic work in ways that I did not initially anticipate. I immediately found myself more focused and invigorated about my fields of interest as well as my own research. After I completed my exams, letting my mind wander away from my studies helped me build the theoretical scaffolding for my dissertation proposal: on more than a few occasions, I’d stop thinking about my work during training only to have an epiphany about my research on my drive home (even brief moments of distance from a project does wonders for thinking about ideas in new ways, as they say, and there’s no way anyone can think about a dissertation while someone’s throwing punches at you). So, needless to say, I’m thrilled to continue training for the ring and confronting the opportunities and challenges in my graduate work.

Announcement: Screening Blackness series continues next week


One of our favorite things to do here at AMS :: ATX is to draw your attention to some of the great events happening around UT. This week was the first installment of the Screening Blackness series called “The Black Leading Lady: Olivia Pope and ABC’s Scandal.” Nicole Martin, PhD candidate in the Department of Theater and Dance, will be screening episodes of the hit ABC series Scandal and leading a discussion about key topics from each episode, including race, gender, and sexuality. Nicole sent along the following description of the event, which continues next Monday, October 20 at 12:00pm in the ISESE Gallery at the Warfield Center:

When Scandal premiered in April 2012, ABC became the first major network to feature a Black woman protagonist in a primetime drama in nearly forty years. The show follows Olivia Pope who, with her team of associates, manages the public relations crises of Washington D.C.’s elite while hiding her own illicit interracial affair with the President of the United States. Created by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice), Scandal is one of the highest rated dramas currently on television making Olivia Pope, arguably, one of the most influential figures for contemporary Black female representation.

Week one of the series, “Desirability and Sexuality: Scripting the Black Leading Lady” focused on the construction of Olivia Pope as a black woman protagonist through the lens of sexuality. Discussion centered on the visual and embodied markers of Olivia Pope’s subject position vis-à-vis elements of costuming, character interaction and narrative structure. Attending to the scriptive moments of the show revealed the series’ strategic navigation of race, gender, and sexuality. In particular, audiences addressed the “double-reading” that occurs when observing Olivia Pope’s relationship with the President. This “doubleness” simultaneously activates a long history of sexual violence against black women’s bodies while also challenging the tropes of black womanhood that continue to dominate mainstream television.

Week 2, October 20, 2014

“Navigating Patriarchy: Black Masculinity, White Masculinity and Black Womanhood.” Watch: “A Door Marked Exit” (Season 3, Episode 10). This week will interrogate the assertion of power through character navigation of patriarchy.

Week 3, October 27, 2014

“Toward Freedom: Black Feminisms and Black Female Representation.” Watch: “The Price of a Free and Fair Election” (Season 3, Episode 18). This week will consider how to write and read for resistance in representations of black female subjectivity.

The event is sponsored by the John L. Warfield Center For African and African American Studies. Hope to see you there!

Faculty Research: Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández discusses MALS department on The Horn

Last month we shared some details about UT’s brand new Mexican American and Latino/a Studies department, chaired by our own Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández. We share with you today a quick video with Texas Exes’ “The Horn,” a web series about new developments at UT, in which she opines on the value of interdisciplinarity within the department.

Take a look:

Announcement: Talk by “bad feminist” Roxane Gay


On Monday, October 6 at 2:00pm in CAL 100, fiction writer, blogger and essayist Roxane Gay will show us just how empowering being a “bad feminist” can be.

Showing humility, humor, anger, love, eloquence, and plenty of wisdom, this daughter of Haitian immigrants, proud Midwesterner and Scrabble-playing Hunger-Games fanatic, is a badass critic redefining what it means to be a feminist for the messy, diverse world we live in.

Hope to see you there!


Faculty Research: Interview with Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández


dr.g-h In honor of her recent appointment as the inaugural chair of the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at UT (MALS), we sat down with Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández to talk about the founding and future of MALS, the unique features of the program, and what Latina/o Studies contributes to scholarship and the community more broadly.

Tell us a little bit about the history of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the founding of the Mexican American and Latina/o Studies department. What do you think is important about the work of the Center and Department at UT and beyond?

These two questions are actually connected. The Center for Mexican American Studies was founded in 1970 under the leadership of Americo Paredes, who was a public folklorist and conducted interdisciplinary anthropological work. He was a student at UT and trained with J. Frank Dobie, one of the most renowned American folklorists. Another really important person who was here was Jovita González, the first woman to be the president of the Texas Folklore Society. When the Center was founded, the mission was to serve the community through intellectual work, so one of the reasons we are doing all the press about the new department is because we feel we are not just an academic unit but that we have a political and social obligation to communities of interest here in Austin, in Texas, and nationally. When I say “the community” I don’t just mean Mexican American or Latina/o communities but wonder instead, what is the responsibility of this department in preparing the state of Texas and the nation for dealing with the exploding Latina/o demographic.

I actually think that we have a real opportunity to show that academic departments can help set the stage and problem solve for questions that emerge on the political scene. I’m not saying we have all the answers or that we should be writing policy, but why can’t research and teaching inform public debate? Also, why can’t the students we train be the people that end up becoming those key decision makers? One of the things I’ve been stressing in a lot of recent interviews is the value of the degree in terms of training students to be Latina/o professionals. I told a journalist that we’re not here to teach people to be Latina/o, that’s something they learn how to do on their own. This major, this degree, this program, its emergence as Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, is a recognition of the historic Mexican American population in the state of Texas, of newly emerging Latina/o populations from Central and South American and the Caribbean, and also a recognition of their long term histories. For example, there’s a Puerto Rican community in San Antonio–why? Because of military bases. We can link that back to the Jones–Shafroth Act of 1917, where Puerto Ricans were given citizenship and could join the U.S. military to fight in World War I. That’s why we have a Puerto Rican community in San Antonio, because of militarization. There are direct correlates between Latina/o migration and historic population and U.S. foreign policy that I think we need to pay attention to. At some level, it is the political, social, and intellectual responsibility of the department to account for these histories. What we can do is provide students a stellar UT education but also give them the additional bonus by teaching them how to be ethical, how to recognize cultural difference so they can be responsible professionals no matter what they’re doing. That’s where I see the relationship between the MALS department’s public mission and the long-term history of the Center being linked.

The thing MALS brings to the table that is different than, say, an area studies model of Latin America where you study Mexico or Chile or the Dominican Republic is that we’re interested in the diaspora question, the transit between there and here, “here” being the U.S. What happens here with those populations when, for example, Central Americans live next to historic Mexican American populations or African American population?. How do we account for these social relations? That’s what Latina/o Studies helps us do as a nation.

How do you see the MALS department growing in terms of research and teaching?

We have six faculty now. When we arrive at the optimum number it will be between ten and twelve, very similar to the size of the American Studies department. We’ll have a Ph.D. program, because you can’t have a research department without a Ph.D. program. One of the things we’re interested in is training students in a core discipline as well as the interdisciplinary field. For example, you could do Latina/o Studies and History, or Latina/o Studies and Psychology, or Latina/o Studies and American Studies. What that does is it gives a student formal interdisciplinary training in their field, and it also gives them a foot in a traditional discipline. I think that more and more it becomes critical to make sure students have as many advantages as possible for an ever-shrinking job market, and if we can provide two different kinds of training that are related to each other, then I think our students are going to fare better. The other thing I would say is that we are going to have small cohorts so that we can support our students better monetarily. What that means is that our students will be taking classes in departments like American Studies, like History, like English as a part of their training. On some level, what we’re doing is building on core disciplinary strengths across the university at the same time that we’re establishing our own individual research program that focuses on Latina/os but with interdisciplinary, qualitative, and quantitative methods.

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Announcement: core and affiliate American Studies faculty explore relevance of ‘Gone With The Wind’

Gone With The Wind title from trailer

Mark your calendars, everyone: on Wednesday, October 1 at 4:00pm, professors Daina Ramey Berry, Jacqueline Jones, Randolph Lewis, Thomas Schatz, and Coleman Hutchison will be participating in a panel discussion exploring Gone With The Wind’s contemporary relevance, 75 years after its premiere in Atlanta.

Dr. Lewis is a member of our core faculty, while Jones, Schatz, and Hutchison are American Studies faculty affiliates.

The panel, held at the Harry Ransom Center, is a part of a series of events this semester occurring alongside the center’s impressive and comprehensive Gone With The Wind exhibit, open until January 4, 2015.

For more information, see the event announcement here.