Grad Research: Julie Kantor in the LARB

Congratulations to UT AMS graduate student Julie Kantor, who recently had some of the poems from her chapbook Land published in the “No Crisis” issue of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly. We spoke to Julie about her work when Land came out last spring, and we’re excited to able to share a selection with you, below.


Grad Research: Kirsten Ronald and the Public History of the Red River District


UT AMS grad student Kirsten Ronald (pictured in the archive, above) has been taking her teaching out of the classroom and onto the streets of Austin in a project she’s been developing with local organization Preservation Austin. Kirsten has been working with high school students, teaching them to do oral history and archival research focusing on Austin’s Red River cultural district. Kirsten sez:

Austin’s vibrant Red River Cultural District is currently being threatened by encroaching development and rising rents, so Preservation Austin is working with the Vandegrift High School FFA chapter to raise awareness about the historic and cultural importance of the area and its buildings.  The stretch of Red River Street between 6th and 10th Streets is home to  iconic bars and music venues like Stubb’s, Elysium, Mohawk and the now-shuttered Emo’s, all of which have helped make Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  With many properties dating back to the mid-1800s, the District can also provide valuable insight into what makes Austin tick.  I’m excited to be teaching a new generation of preservationists and oral historians that while growth, development, and change are important components of any living city, the forms they take are not inevitable.

The website for the project is now live and the work that the students do producing an audio tour of the area will eventually be featured on Preservation Austin’s app.

5 Questions: Dr. Simone Browne, Associate Professor, African and African Diaspora Studies

Browne Picture

Today we share with you an interview with Dr. Simone Browne, Associate Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies department and affiliate faculty member of the American Studies department. Dr. Browne and American Studies senior Rebecca Bielamowicz discussed teaching in the public school system, black feminist thought, the politics of creative expression, and her new book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press, 2015). And, you’re in luck: the conversation was so engaging that we expanded it beyond our usual five questions. Read on for a fascinating discussion!


What is your scholarly background and how does it motivate your teaching and research?

Oh that’s a good question – nice – and I like that you put teaching first because that’s so important to me. So my scholarly background, I grew up in Toronto and I went to school at the University of Toronto for undergrad, master’s degree, and PhD. In between that I got a teaching degree, and so I actually have background teaching kindergarten and the second grade as well, too. And so one of the things that was important in my graduate studies was that in the program that – so I’m a sociologist, but the program that I was in was sociology and equity studies, and so it wasn’t like an add on, it was something that was really important to the department’s political project, and I think that comes in to how I think about how we can see the world sociologically, it’s also about equity as well, so I think that kind of influences my teaching.

After I did the teaching degree, I wanted to go into a master’s in education in the field of education. I was interested in pursuing those issues around social justice and equity in the public school system and so – but when I went there, sometimes you get a little sidetracked with some things, and I was kind of interested in those same things but as well as a cultural studies approach to looking at sociology and so that’s how I ended up in more of the, I guess more of the academic track as opposed to public schooling.

How was teaching the younger kids?

It’s hard. That was the hardest job I’ve ever had. A different type of hard because you’re on every day, there’s so much prep work to do, of course there are always, and I’m sure it’s changed a lot now where it’s been ramped up, but there’s always these metrics and benchmarks and testing and everything that you have to do. There’s oftentimes that you have to create spaces for them to learn through play or other things, and so it was tough, I’ll tell you that. My mother was a teacher, so I have a great – she was actually teaching at the same school as me for one time – but it was a great appreciation for the labor that they do. It’s no joke. They are really putting it in and they’re often not given the respect they deserve and the schools are not given the money they need. It is the toughest job but so important. And they’re great – to see the students, some of them are finished with university now, you know, that was such a long time ago.

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Announcement: Lecture by Rob Nixon on The Anthropocene, Slow Violence and Environmental Justice

The Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS) is in the midst of a year-long series of lectures, public talks, seminars, and workshops about the environmental humanities.

As part of the series, Dr. Rob Nixon (Princeton University) will be delivering a lecture on the anthropocene, slow violence, and environmental justice on Thursday, January 28, at 6:00pm in CLA 1.302B.

Rob Nixon holds the Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Family Professorship in Humanities and Environment at Princeton University. He is the author of four books, most recently Dreambirds: the Natural History of a Fantasy and the award-winning Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Nixon writes frequently for the New York Times. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, The Nation, London Review of Books, The Village Voice, Slate, Truthout, Huffington Post, Times Literary Supplement, Chronicle of Higher Education, Critical Inquiry, Public Culture and elsewhere.

For more information about the TILTS series of events, click here.


Alumni Voices: Angie Maxwell Wins V.O. Key Award

Maxwell author photo

Congratulations to UT AMS graduate Dr. Angie Maxwell, whose 2014 book The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness was just awarded the V.O. Key Award, given by the Southern Political Science Association for the best book on Southern politics. If you’d like to know more about Dr. Maxwell and her book, we spoke to her in this space last year.

Announcement: Dr. Maurie McInnis appointed UT Provost and Professor of American Studies

Maurie McInnis

Earlier this week, University of Texas at Austin’s President Greg Fenves announced the appointment of Dr. Maurie McInnis as the University’s executive vice president and provost. In addition to her duties as the provost, Prof. McInnis will also be appointed as Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities #1 in the Department of American Studies.

Prof. McInnis has long taught undergraduate courses in American Studies and Art History, including an innovative multi-disciplinary lecture class focused on the history and culture of the slave South. A former Chair of University of Virginia’s American Studies program, her interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on the relationship between politics and art in early America. Prof. McInnis’s most recent book, Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade, was awarded the Charles C. Eldredge Book Prize from the Smithsonian American Art Museum for outstanding scholarship in American Art and the Library of Virginia Literary Award for non-fiction. Her scholarship has been long engaged with public history, and she has worked regularly with museums and historic sites. More details on Professor McInnis’s scholarship, research and accomplishments are available on her website.

We are delighted to welcome Maurie McInnis to both the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of American Studies!