University of Texas at Austin

Archive for February, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tracing New Orleans’ Creole History

It’s Mardi Gras week in New Orleans, a time to celebrate the Crescent City’s diverse culture and time-honored traditions. With its unique blending of French, Spanish, Caribbean, Native American and African influences, the city is perceived by many as a place apart.

Despite its image as a foreign land, New Orleans played a vital role as a site for the American struggle for racial equality during the 19th century, according to Shirley Thompson, assistant professor of American Studies.

Thompson’s “Exiles at Home:…

Friday, February 20, 2009

What’s on Your Nightstand, Juliet Walker?

History Professor Juliet E.K. Walker knows first-hand the power of a book to shape history.

Earlier this year, the site of New Philadelphia, Ill., a town founded in 1836 by her great-great grandfather Frank McWorter, was named a National Historic Landmark, based on research she published in “Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier” (1983, 1995).

In the book, Walker documented the historic significance of McWorter’s life and New Philadelphia, which is the first known town platted and officially registered…

Friday, February 20, 2009

Symposium Celebrates Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”

The Department of Philosophy will host the symposium “Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: Celebrating the Best Within Us,” from 4 to 6:30 p.m., March 4. Presenters will offer perspectives on the Russian-born philosopher’s magnum opus, both as philosophy and literature.

Each session will include a question-and-answer period, and a reception with the speakers will be held immediately afterward. The event is free and open to the public.

Speakers and topics include:

4 p.m. “Ayn Rand: Evidence of a Life” by Jeff Britting, associate producer…

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mayor Picks “The Septembers of Shiraz” for Book Club

Mayor Will Wynn has chosen “The Septembers of Shiraz” (HarperCollins, 2008) by Dalia Sofer for the 2009 Mayor’s Book Club. The club is cosponsored by the Austin Public Library and the Humanities Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.

Sofer’s debut novel is based on her childhood in Iran during the revolution and flight from the country after her father was imprisoned. It was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2008.

The Humanities Institute invites all of…

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visualizing Russia’s Kaleidoscopic History

Geographically, Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than ten million square miles and spanning 11 time zones. With its immense size and varied landscapes it’s a nation known not only by its unique beauty, but also for its storied history.

Joan Neuberger, professor of history, takes readers on a journey through Russian history–from the ancient Kiev period (860-1240) to contemporary post-soviet society (1991-present)–in “Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture” (Yale University Press, 2008).

The book, edited by Neuberger…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Amazing Rare Maps in the Benson Collection

In 1577, Spain’s King Phillip II ordered a comprehensive survey of the New World. Questionnaires sent to Spain’s territories in the Americas requested information about population, languages, terrain and vegetation.

Of the more than 200 hand-drawn responses, called the relaciones geográficas, one-fifth reside in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin. The relaciones geográficas are just a few of the many priceless artifacts acquired by the library since its establishment in 1926.

Today, the Benson Collection is the…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Burnt Orange Britannia

British studies scholars from around the globe will converge on campus Feb. 20-21 for the 2009 British Scholar Annual Conference to be held at the Harry Ransom Center.

Wm. Roger Louis, professor of history and director of the university’s British Studies Program was instrumental in bringing the conference to the university.

A renowned scholar of British history, Louis is the author or editor or more than 30 books on the history, literature and politics of the British Empire. The latest is “Burnt…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alumna Chronicles Her South-of-the-Border Identity Quest

Travel writer Stephanie Elizondo Griest (B.A. Post-Soviet Studies/Journalism, ’97) journeys deep into Mexico as she traces her bicultural roots in “Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlands” (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

She opens the memoir by describing an epiphany spurred by an encounter with a group of border crossers sprinting across Interstate 10 in the middle of a scorching desert. “As I look off into the desert hills from which they descended, a surprising thought flashes through my mind: I want to…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Book Highlights Work of Photographer Fritz Henle

UT Press and the Harry Ransom Center have jointly published the catalog “Fritz Henle: In Search of Beauty,” a retrospective exhibition of the life and career of the noted 20-century photographer.

The edited book includes commentary by Ransom Center Senior Research Curator of Photography Roy Flukinger, who also curated the current exhibition of Henle’s work.

A contributor to such magazines as LIFE and Harper’s Bazaar, Henle had a distinctive style that was characterized by a unique combination of the realistic and…

Monday, February 16, 2009

Irish Studies Reading List

Are you one of more than 35 million Americans who can claim Irish ancestry? If so, two recent books about Ireland’s robust literary tradition might catch your eye. Both books are by alumni of the university’s Department of English.

Texas Ex Karen Steele (Ph.D. English, ’96) is the author of “Women, Press and Politics During the Irish Revival” (Syracuse University Press, 2007), a study of female voices who helped launch the 1916 Easter Rising, which ultimately led to Ireland’s independence from…