Announcement: New issue of The End of Austin released

Summer’s here, which means that the latest issue of The End of Austin, has been published. Here’s what editor and American Studies professor Randy Lewis had to say about this issue:

The big summer issue of our award-winning website is here: hipster hate, disappearing bees, unaffordable housing, exploited sex workers, weird slogans, dreams deferred, the fate of Barton Springs, rapidly changing neighborhoods, festival blues, documentary photography, Borges in Austin, and much more. The new issue features 25 original pieces from writers, photographers, and activists who are talking about life in the fastest growing city in the US. Check it out and share us on social media (nothing helps us more than that simple act).

For more information, check The End of Austin on Facebook and on Twitter.

Undergrad Research: Molly Mandell named UEPS scholar for 2015-2016 school year!

Today we are thrilled to share a conversation with AMS undergraduate Molly Mandell, who is the recipient of an Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship (UEPS) for the 2015-16 school year. The UEPS award is one of the most notable scholarships offered to UT students from a wide range of departments. We are super excited that Molly will be representing AMS and doing great work in the year ahead. To find out more about her next project, which involves a trip to Cuba to visit and photograph organic farms, read on!SelfPortrait

Tell me about what you are working on right now.

This summer, I’m working with the school of Undergraduate Studies and American Studies professor Randolph Lewis on an independent research project where I will be going to Cuba to photograph organic farms. I’m trying to understand sustainability there. Here at UT, I worked at the Micro Farm, which was an extension of my summer WWOOFing (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in France and Italy. I’ve always been interested in organic, sustainable farming and agriculture, but that really inspired me to come back and to look into my own community and see what is going on locally.

How have your American Studies classes influenced the way you think about sustainability and organic agriculture?

My American Studies classes have taught me to think really critically in a lot of ways. I didn’t start as an American Studies major. I found it by chance. I’m also interested in the arts. I like how in American Studies you can look at a lot of different topics and see common themes across them and understand how things reflect society. It makes you question society both locally and more broadly.

American Studies classes had a big influence on why I chose to go to Cuba, actually. At first, I didn’t make the connection between agriculture and Cuba. I was just following all the news once the United States started relations again with Cuba. I feel like Cuba is either romanticized or demonized in the United States. Simultaneously, there are all these discussions happening about when the embargo is lifted and America is once again involved with Cuba, how all these things will get better. I think there is a lot of truth to that; many things will improve, but I also think that there are parts of their culture that we don’t talk about that are really unique and special. As I was researching I started to read about agriculture, and it’s fascinating: basically, they were forced to be entirely organic because they haven’t had access to pesticides and machinery. They are now on their way to being one of the most sustainable countries in the world, but that is really subject to change as the United States gets more involved.

Tell us about one of your favorite experiences in an American Studies classroom.

The class that got me involved in American Studies was the Politics of Creativity course with Randolph Lewis in the Fall of 2013. That class was initially a writing flag for me, and I picked it at random. In that class, I did my research paper on Marfa, Texas, and the controversy between Prada Marfa and Playboy Marfa, which are two roadside art installations. I was talking about which one should stay there in relation to Donald Judd’s ideas around art and what it should be. That was really influential for me because I hadn’t really explored my more creative thinking side, and that class pushed me to do so. It caused me to rethink academics in general. There are all these notions about what it means to get a degree and do research–write a research paper. But I get to incorporate photography, as I will in my Cuba project, which is important. The end result for my Cuba project will be a book published as both a paper and eBook. I’m old school, I still like holding things. My photographs will have long captions as an alternate to a long research paper. My American Studies classes have taught me that you can use your creative side in academics, which is really exciting.

Undergraduate Research: Andrea Gustavson on teaching undergraduates at the Harry Ransom Center

We love it when we can draw your attention to the awesome teaching our grad students do and the exciting research our undergraduates do. Today, we’d like to point you toward the Harry Ransom Center’s newsletter, Ransom Edition, where our very own Andrea Gustavson talks about her work teaching undergraduates in the archive. 

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Teacher Andrea Gustavson shares photography materials with undergraduate students in her class “American Images: Photography, Literature, Archive.” Photo by Robert V. Reichle.

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Undergraduate in the class “American Images: Photography, Literature, Archive.” Photo by Robert V. Reichle.

Here’s a taste of Gustavson’s article:

In the fall, I taught a class called “American Images: Photography, Literature, Archive” that made extensive use of the collections at the Ransom Center. Each week, the students and I explored the intersections between photography, literature, and archival theory using the Center’s primary materials as the foundation for our discussions. On Mondays and Wednesdays we met to discuss the week’s reading, closely reading passages or images and making connections to contemporary events. On Fridays the students had the opportunity to view rare manuscripts and photographs that illustrated, extended, and even challenged many of the concepts we had discussed earlier in the week. Over the course of the semester, the students worked within a variety of written genres as they built toward a final project for which they conducted their own original research.

Check out the full article here.

Gustavson is a PhD candidate in American Studies here at UT and she worked as a graduate intern in Public Services and as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Ransom Center in 2010–2014.

Faculty and Grad Research: Dr. Steve Hoelscher and Andi Gustavson on the Magnum Archive

Malcolm X during his visit to enterprises owned by Black Muslims. Chicago, IL, 1962, ©Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos.

Today we bring you a lovely piece hosted on the UT History Department’s Not Even Past website: Dr. Steve Hoelscher and Ph.D. candidate Andi Gustavson have teamed up to bring you this piece on the Magnum archive of photography. We’ve reprinted an excerpt below; take a look at the full article here.

Like the print itself, the collection of photographs to which it belongs is now also retired—at least from its previous occupation of carrying the image it bears to publishing venues. Davidson’s print came out of retirement in the summer of 2010—or, more accurately, it took on a new life—when the Magnum Photo New York Print Library was opened for research at the Harry Ransom Center, a research library and museum at the University of Texas at Austin. The Magnum Photos collection, as it is now known, is comprised of some 1,300 boxes containing more than 200,000 press prints and exhibition photographs by some of the twentieth century’s most famous photographers. Once Magnum began using digital distribution methods for its photographs, the function of press prints as vehicles for conveying the image became obsolete and these photographs became significant solely as objects for both monetary and historic value.

Magnum’s visual archive is a vast, living chronicle of the people, places, and events of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Images of cultural icons, from James Dean and Marilyn Monroe,to Gandhi and Castro, coexist in the Magnum Photos collection with depictions of international conflicts, political unrest, and cultural life. Included are famous war photos from the Spanish Civil War and D-Day landings to wars in Central America, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as unforgettable scenes of historic events: the rise of democracy in India, the Chinese military suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the U.S. Civil Rights movement, the Iranian revolution, and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Grad Research: MA student Ashlyn Davis’ work featured on LightBox blog

We are thrilled to draw your attention to Time magazine’s LightBox blog, which recently featured MA student Ashlyn Davis’ collaborative artist book project, Islands of the Blest, which brings together historic photographs of the American west that Davis and photographer Bryan Schutmaat sourced from the online archives of the Library of Congress and the United States Geological Survey.

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The following is a description of the book from the publisher’s website:

These photographs depict various places in the American West, and were taken over a one hundred-year period, from the 1870s through the 1970s. The photographers represented range from the completely unknown to some of America’s most distinguished practitioners of the medium. All of the images were sourced from digital public archives.

Announcement: ‘LaToya Ruby Frazier: Riveted’ exhibition reception tomorrow!

We are pleased to announce that the second exhibition associated with LaToya Ruby Frazier: Riveted has officially opened at the John L. Warfield Center ISESE Gallery in JES A230. The gallery will be open to the public from 12 – 5, Wednesday – Saturday, through May 9, 2015. This exhibition features video and photographic work previously unseen at UT that emphasizes the intimate stakes of Frazier’s political and artistic practice.

This exhibition was organized by INGZ Collective, a curatorial collective that includes our very own American Studies PhD student Natalie Zelt. Join Natalie and the rest of the INGZ Collective for a curators talk and exhibition reception tomorrow, Tuesday February 24, from 4 – 6pm in JES A230. And mark your calendars for LaToya Ruby Frazier’s upcoming residency at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, which will include an artist talk and exhibition reception on April 22.

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Announcement: The winter edition of The End of Austin is here!

The End of Austin is back in action with its Winter 2015 edition, which features articles, photographs, and video on chicken shit bingo, the light rail, Plaza Saltillo, and lots of other Austin-y things. In case you haven’t heard, The End of Austin is an award-winning digital humanities project based in the Department of American Studies at UT that explores urban identity in Austin. This edition features an article on the Colorado River and water in Austin by UT AMS alumnus Andrew Busch and an article by PhD candidate Brendan Gaughen on Dazed and Confused.

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Check it all out here!