Monday, August 24, 2015

Nine Scholars on the Lessons of Katrina

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast and precipitated the flooding of New Orleans. It was a towering catastrophe by any standard. Some 1,800 persons were killed outright. More than a million were forced to relocate, many for the remainder of their lives. A city of five hundred thousand was nearly emptied of life. The storm stripped away the surface of our social structure and showed us what lies beneath—a grim look at race, class, and gender in these United States. 
It is crucial to get this story straight so that we may learn from it and be ready for that stark inevitability, the next time. When seen through a social science lens, Katrina informs us of the real human costs of a disaster and helps prepare us for the blows that we know are lurking just over the horizon. The Katrina Bookshelf is the result of a national effort to bring experts together in a collaborative program of research on the human costs of the disaster. The program was supported by the Ford, Gates, MacArthur, Rockefeller, and Russell Sage Foundations and sponsored by the Social Science Research Council. This is the most comprehensive social science coverage of a disaster to be found anywhere in the literature. It is also a deeply human story. 
— Kai Erikson, editor of The Katrina Bookshelf
The Katrina Bookshelf will contain ten volumes to be published through the year 2017. To highlight the important work contained within each work published thus far, we asked our authors to comment on what they hope we as a nation will take away from marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Below are important, evidence-based lessons gleaned from years of research.

Housing

Disasters of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina reveal the deep-seated, taken-for-granted inequities that structure our everyday lives. Typically, the actions of both government and business elites in the response and recovery after a disaster reproduce and even enhance those inequities.

In the immediate chaos and sense of urgency after a massive disaster, new resourcesmonetary as well as human—rush in, and the regulations and processes for spending public funds that normally require responsible oversight and accountability are washed away. Priorities are set and programs implemented that most often leave out the voices, experiences, and needs of the most vulnerable—single mothers and their children, low-moderate income people, renters, the aged, the disabled, people of color—while benefitting the already privileged.

To achieve true recovery for everyone, not just gains for a few, we must include vulnerable populations and their advocates in our decision making. Listening to the stories and observing the experiences of more than 500 displaced persons and dozens of first responders, service providers, community organizers, government officials, and residents, for example, our research group, 12 scholars in 13 different receiving communities across the country, found that the central need both in the disaster area and in the diaspora was for housing. In addition to the immediate need for safe, temporary housing, people needed long-term, affordable housing that enabled them to live in community and provided transportation to employment and access to social services, health care, and schools.

Recovery for everyone depends on developing housing policy that provides faster and more effective rebuilding assistance to rental property owners –especially to those with fewer than 6 units, prioritizes consolidating kin/community networks, includes incentives for rebuilders to hire returning residents, and offers access to employment and community services.
At a more structural/political level, we must uncouple disaster-resource prioritization, allocation, and distribution processes from unchecked control by government/corporate elites. And we must include significant input from the least powerful yet most affected people in local communities and require transparency and long-term accountability in the use of public funds.
— Lynn Weber
Evacuation, Displacement, and Prolonged Recovery
I think one of the most important lessons of Katrina is related to the enduring nature of the disruption that this terrible disaster caused. “Evacuation” suggests the movement of persons from a threatened location to a temporary safe haven. That was, indeed, the experience of many residents who had to leave New Orleans but were able find safe haven, locate secure shelter, and establish a sense of routine relatively quickly. 
But for tens of thousands of other survivors, Katrina’s aftermath was radically different and the disruption in their lives is ongoing. These individuals and households often made several moves in the weeks, months, and years following Katrina. They were the survivors who often bounced from a shelter, to a family member’s home, back to a shelter, to a trailer, to a motel, to temporary housing, to different temporary housing, to a homeless shelter, back to temporary housing… and on, and on, and on.
Those who experienced the most instability were also the ones who were often living in the most precarious circumstances before the storm. For them, Katrina has come to represent the disaster with no end. There is no thinking of it as a discrete event, bounded in time and space. Instead, this is the ongoing disaster that continues to ripple through their lives.
Anyone who has visited New Orleans and the rest of the battered Gulf Coast in the years since the storm would likely acknowledge that much progress has been made in restoring particular places that were badly damaged. Just as that work of rebuilding the physical infrastructure is ongoing, however, I would argue that we also need to continue to restore the lives of the people who were most affected. So on this tenth anniversary of Katrina, my hope is that we continue to focus on and invest in those most affected by the storm—both those who have returned to their former homes as well as those who permanently relocated elsewhere. If we do this, and we do it right, we will need to continue dedicating time, care, and resources to the systems that help people function effectively and live happier, healthier, more prosperous lives.
— Lori Peek

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Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora
Through an extensive research network, Displaced features the work of 12 scholars who interviewed 562 displaced adults and children; 104 first responders, service providers, and community organizers; and 101 other residents in the communities where Katrina survivors landed.

Lynn Weber is Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, has for thirty years been a leader in developing the field of intersectionality—examining the nexus between race, class, gender, and other dimensions of social inequality. Her current work focuses on revealing inequalities in the process of recovery from disaster and in health outcomes.

Lori Peek is associate professor of Sociology and co-director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University. She is author of the award-winning book Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11, co-author of Children of Katrina, and co-editor of Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora.

Race 

I think Katrina was a national disgrace, but one that also presented an opportunity. As many in the mass media pointed out at the time, Katrina exposed the dark side of the United States, its poverty and historically and institutionally-rooted racism to full public view. Katrina made public what Michael Harrington famously called 'the other America'. 
Amid all the suffering and hand-wringing there was the possibility to refocus a national political agenda to acknowledge and to deal with these two foundational issues in a nation that prides itself on its moral goodness, as well as its wealth and ingenuity. That opportunity was never taken and while New Orleans, the site of so much attention during the storm, may have recovered to a degree and its flood protection system strengthened, the poverty and racism remain in place. 
This is a national issue, not merely a regional one and it is this issue that I would hope the current commemorations and discussion would tackle. There is a direct line to be drawn from Katrina to the current Black Lives Matter movement and with this mass movement, a new opportunity.
— Ron Eyerman
More info

Using cultural trauma theory, Is This America? explores how a wide range of media and popular culture producers have challenged the meaning of Katrina, in which the massive failure of government officials to uphold the American social contract exposed the foundational racial cleavage in our society.

Ronald Eyerman is a professor of sociology and co-director of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. His previous books include Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity and Narrating Trauma: On the Impact of Collective Suffering.

Cultural Communication

Katrina swept away the contents of every home in St. Bernard Parish, the worst hit area, where 67,000 structures were damaged or destroyed including all of those belonging to the 300-plus members of the Johnson-Fernandez family. Now, ten years later, we wonder: what does such unexpected loss and suffering have to teach us?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Designer on Reinventing Texas Classics

The first Texas-based writer to gain national attention, J. Frank Dobie proved that authentic writing springs easily from the native soil of Texas and the Southwest. To capture the intrigue of Dobie's storytelling, one of our book designers drew inspiration from old western pulp paperbacks to breathe new life into some Texas classics. Here's award-winning designer Derek George on his creative process.

Redesigning Texas Classics
By Derek George

Not being a native Texan myself, I’ve had to do my homework since moving here in 2007. There were so many names unfamiliar to me when I first got here, but I’d see them everywhere: Lamar, Travis, Burnet, and Kinky Friedman. Working for UT Press (and reading a few history books) has opened my eyes to the rich history of this state that I now call home.

If you like your history to sound like your old grandpa telling you stories on the front porch at dusk—full of cowboys and outlaws, buried treasures and lost mines—then J. Frank Dobie is your guy. The University of Texas Press keeps J. Frank Dobie’s books in print and as our current stock began to run out, our marketing team decided that it was a good time for a refresh of the design. I was the lucky designer who got to work on the project. As I began brainstorming concepts for the new designs, one of our sales reps at the time, Chris Hoyt, showed me a photo of an old western pulp paperback. I love old pulp paperbacks and immediately gravitated toward this approach. The style seemed to fit well with the Dobie books.


Drawing inspiration from old Western pulp paperbacks
I collect a lot of design from the internet to inspire me and liberally “borrow” from (all designers do this), and over the years, I’ve collected a lot of pulp paperback cover designs. One thing you notice right away from these old covers are the colorful, dramatic, and sometimes lurid illustrations that helped to give these books their character. We looked into commissioning new pulp art for the book covers, but it wasn’t within our budget (and apparently there aren’t a lot of illustrators who do this type of work these days). So I looked instead at the existing art inside the books and found that there was some pretty great stuff, most of which was done by the great Tom Lea, a good friend of Dobie’s.

A few patient and kind souls at the Harry Ransom Center helped me track down the original art that I wanted to use from the J. Frank Dobie archives here on campus. With the art chosen, it was just a matter of finding the right typography that fit with the western pulp paperback style, but still looked attractive to modern eyes. Since I was designing an entire series at once, I had to plan ahead with colors that go well together as a group, and designed a template that tied them all together. The ribbon with Dobie’s portrait was inspired by a similar treatment on some of the old Dell paperbacks. I like to work with a large pasteboard area in Adobe Illustrator and try out different colors and fonts until I get the combination right.

Click to enlarge and see the designs progress




















Since designing the new covers, I’ve had a few people think that these were older cover designs of these books that they had never seen before, mistaking them for actual old paperbacks. I love when this happens.

This was a fun project to work on and I hope that the new redesigns can help people see the J. Frank Dobie books in a new way.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Velvet Light Trap Call for Papers

Call for Papers

The Velvet Light Trap Issue #78: “Considering Kids’ Media”
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The Payne Fund studies of the 1920s and 1930s attempted to discover—with questionable scientific rigor—whether attending the movies was emotionally and physically harmful to children. Was it the case that disturbing scenes and sensory reactions to light and sound caused children to become nervous, agitated, and upset? Although the Payne studies were controversial and inconclusive, they reflected a general concern about the effect of films on children’s well-being that would influence media regulation and discourse for years to come. Many popular and academic conversations about kids and media are still dominated by the belief that children are vulnerable, developing bodies in need of constant oversight. David Buckingham famously defined these discourses as pedagogical and protectionist, and argued that they can limit the study of kids’ media. Like Buckingham, we see potential pitfalls with the pedagogical and protectionist approaches, including regressive views of audiences; arbitrary boundaries between adult and child cultures; and a neglect of formal analysis and historical inquiry. Significant work has been done in a number of disciplines that seeks to address these challenges and concerns, but there is more to add to the film and media studies conversation that recognizes the complexity of children’s media and the cultures surrounding them.

For this issue, The Velvet Light Trap seeks historical and contemporary studies of kids’ media: that is, media aimed exclusively at kids, media produced with kids in mind as part of the larger audience, or media made by kids themselves. Submissions should add to the study of kids’ media as a creative, social, and cultural phenomenon by moving beyond the protectionist and pedagogical binary. We welcome topics that reflect the agency of young people, acknowledge the complexity of these media texts, and expand film and media histories. We will consider papers that concern people under the age of 18—teens, tweens, “young adults,” infants, and everyone in between—and topics with a national, regional, or international scope. The following subjects offer some topic areas, though submissions are not limited to the following:
  • Issues of gender, race, and the queering of childhood
  • Children as producers of content, online and in film or TV narratives
  • New research methodologies: issues when studying kids or using kids as co-researchers
  • Merchandising, toy culture, franchising, and paratexts of kids’ media
  • Traditional kids’ media forms and genres—fairy tales, animation, fantasy, etc.—and their boundaries and hybridity
  • Child stars and the stars of children’s shows or films
  • Sites of kid fandom and kids’ fan culture
  • Age and age differentiation within the realm of kids’ media
  • Texts with crossover appeal to multiple age demographics
  • Industrial studies of kid-focused networks, studios, websites, etc.
  • Children’s film festivals and other sites of exhibition
  • Historiographic inquiries into the conditions affecting children’s media: technological change, taste cultures, distribution and exhibition practices, external censorship, self-regulation, etc.
  • Institutional and educational media

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions should be between 8,000 and 10,000 words, formatted in Chicago style. Please submit an electronic copy of the paper, along with a one-page abstract, both saved as a Microsoft Word file. Remove any identifying information so that the submission is suitable for anonymous review. The entire essay, including block quotations and notes, should be double-spaced. Quotations not in English should be accompanied by translations. Photocopies of illustrations are sufficient for initial review, but authors should be prepared to supply camera-ready photographs on request. Illustrations will be sized by the publisher. Permissions are the responsibility of the author. Send electronic manuscripts and/or any questions to thevelvetlighttrap@gmail.com. Submissions are due August 15, 2015.

About the Journal:

The Velvet Light Trap is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal of film, television, and new media studies. Graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas-Austin coordinate issues in alternation. Our Editorial Advisory Board includes such notable scholars as Charles Acland, Richard Allen, Ben Aslinger, Harry Benshoff, Mark Betz, Michael Curtin, Corey Creekmur, Kaye Dickinson, Bambi Haggins, Lucas Hilderbrand, Scott Higgins, Mary Celeste Kearney, Jon Kraszewski, Nicholas Sammond, Jacob Smith, Beretta Smith-Shomade, Jonathan Sterne, Cristina Venegas, and Michael Williams. For more information, please visit the journal’s website at http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/journals/the-velvet-light-trap.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stories from the Hunter S. Thompson of Texas

The exploits and irreverence of Gary Cartwright's larger-than-life persona has led some to compare him to gonzo god Hunter S. Thompson. The comparison is apt, but Cartwright's fully-lived life seems less dogged by self-loathing. In his new memoir, The Best I Recall, the Texas journalist saunters through his wild years and arrives at a wisdom earned not just from befriending strippers, dope fiends, inmates, and politicians, but from harrowing heart surgery and losing his son, two wives, and a handful of friends to cancer.

There are laugh-out-loud moments, eloquent passages on

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friendship and grief, and the kind of you-can't-make-this-up stories your wild uncle might come up with if he had run-ins with the likes of Jack Ruby and Dennis Hopper. Here are a couple of the things you'll learn from reading The Best I Recall.

Come see Gary Cartwright himself this Saturday at Austin's historic Scholtz Garten on San Jacinto. Gary will be signing copies of his book from 3 to 5pm.

You Could Get Away With Some Stuff in 1970s Mexico


Some of Cartwright's exploits read like the plot of Argo but with much-mitigated consequences and more drug-fueled decision making. Cartwright and his "soul mate" writer Bud Shrake filmed a movie in Durango starring Dennis Hopper (Kid Blue, 1973). Before they got to the set, this happened:

We crossed into Mexico at Eagle Pass, where I convinced an overly diligent Mexican customs agent who was about to refuse Pete entrance because of his long hair that we were filming a movie about Jesus. Pete had been obliged to grow the facial hair, I explained to the confused customs agent, in order to convincingly portray the role of Our Savior.
On the same film shoot, the eccentric director made up his own rules for helming a feature film production. Cartwright recalls, "When his mostly British camera crew complained of fatigue and heat exhaustion, Marvin [Schwartz] laced their cocoa with amphetamines." Now that's problem-solving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

8 Ways Moving to 1830s Texas was . . . Different

In 1834, a German immigrant to Texas named Detlef Thomas Friedrich Jordt, aka Detlef Dunt, published Reise nach Texas, an informative and entertaining little book that praised Texas as a land of opportunity for European immigrants. The first English translation, Journey to Texas, 1833, provides a vivid glimpse into pre-Revolutionary Texas life and when read in light of our experiences as contemporary Texans, is as illuminating as it is amusing.
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We've compiled a list of eight notable ways life in Texas has changed since 1833, or hasn't. You can read an excerpt from Journey to Texas in the May issue of Texas Co-op Power Magazine and on our website.

8 Ways 1830s Texas was . . . Different


1

There were no vegan dining options.

Detlef Dunt writes, "Meat, which, from every kind of animal, is much tastier than in Germany, is eaten fried in the morning at breakfast, as well as at noon and in the evening."

There's no telling what animals were fried up besides cattle and hogs, and Dunt doesn't elaborate, but we can be sure there were no processed foods!

2

International travel to the Austin area was a little less convenient.

Compare Detlef's advice for the best fare from Germany to America to modern transatlantic airline fares:

"Passage from Germany to New Orleans should not exceed forty-five dollars per person . . . personal belongings free." However, the journey to cross the Atlantic took seven weeks and he advises Europeans NOT to arrive between July and October because, you know, yellow fever.

Detlef also includes some very explicit advice about how to get your sea legs which we will not quote here out of consideration for sensitive stomachs.

3

Your fellow passengers did more than just hog the armrest.

". . . they find merit in out-doing the initial perpetrators when it comes to bad manners and vulgar conduct. When on top of this there is also gossip, tippling, and immoderate indulgence, then steerage assumes a veritable village mentality, and a wolf's lair is an Eden by comparison."

An etching illustrating steerage passengers


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Remembering Photographer Mary Ellen Mark

A giant of the photography world has passedWe were fortunate enough to have worked with Mary Ellen Mark and the Wittliff Collections on a book of her photographs from India and Mexico, Man and Beast. She had such kind words to say about her experience publishing with us that we feel as if we've lost a loyal friend.

Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015)
Image from Man and Beast

Here is fellow Magnum photographer Eli Reed (A Long Walk Home) on Mary Ellen Mark:
I heard of Mary Ellen Mark's passing late today with some shock and sadness. She was and is one of the foundations of true photojournalism in a time that needed her kind of important additions to what is needed to tell important stories with truth, beauty, and a healthy respect for her subjects. 
They were not just subjects. Many became friends that stayed in touch with her throughout her life. The dimming of her light is an extremely important loss at this time in photographic history. There are so many well meaning professionals and amateurs who have tried to copy the work of photographers that possibly inhabit the same space that she lived in and the well meaning failed for the most part. 
One needed to have the same kind of faith in your own original vision that Mary Ellen Mark displayed time after time. It seems too many photographers did not get that very important memo. Particularly the part of that memo that tells you to get ready for failure so that when victory comesit will be as sweet as a Georgia peach. 
Mary Ellen could have been a very tough US Marine if she had somehow and for some reason thought to go in that direction but fortunately for the rest of usshe chose the path of being as gentle as the sweetest kiss from a Summer's sweet breeze celebrating the coming of a sultry night. 
Mary Ellen Mark was a magnificent human being who gave, through the work she produced, much more then she received and I mourn her passing. She was a special kind of a living day and night that brings to the front very beautiful mornings. Sweets dreams to her is a good thing.

Read Mary Ellen in conversation with Melissa Harris, editor-in-chief of Aperture Foundation, and Martin Bell, Mark's husband, former politician, and British UNICEF Ambassador, in this excerpt from Man and Beast.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

'We Could Not Fail' In the News

Once We Could Not Fail left the launchpad, so to speak, it hasn't slowed down. Authors
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Richard Paul and Steven Moss have appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's Science Friday, BBC World News, as well as many NPR affiliates across the country. The book has garnered praise from the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Booklist, and Library Journal. We're so proud of all this much-deserved attention that we've gathered all the media the book has earned so far. 


The story of We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program begins with an incredible three-month period leading up to the integration of NASA during the height of the civil rights era. Check out the timeline below to get a sense of how much changed for humanity in such a short amount of time.




Media Coverage

Interviews





Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Remembering Josh Ozersky

Since news of food writer Josh Ozersky's untimely death hit Twitter, those who knew him have called him the 'maharajah of meat', an 'epic food storyteller', a 'titan', and a 'mensch'. Josh wrote a biography of Colonel Sanders for us (Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, 2012) and his appetite for life could not be overlooked. He did a book signing at Austin's own Lucy's Fried Chicken and it was clear that his friends and fans alike drank up his energy, bravado, and clever insight on everything food and drink. 


Josh Ozersky talks with food blogger Ilana Sztaimberg during a book signing
at Lucy's Fried Chicken in Austin on April 27, 2012.
Josh was in Chicago for the restaurant portion of the James Beard Awards ceremony. He would have reveled in Aaron Franklin's win. Here are a few remembrances of his all too brief career as a celebrated food evangelist:






More info
For those who have never read Josh Ozersky's writing, take the time today to read some of his best pieces. Ozersky also produced a series of web videos, appeared on TV, and created Meatopia.

'Solitary Man'
Saveur, November 2013
For one struggling artist, food was solace, and chefs the ultimate muse

'The Hidden Virtues of Tweezer Food'
Esquire, April 2013

'Gastrodamus Speaks! The Future of Food in America, Revealed!'
Time, January 2013
Pink slime shall rise, horned bulls shall wane and other culinary predictions for the 22nd century

'Found: The Incredible Restaurant in the Middle of Nowhere that Nobody Knows About'
Esquire, February 2014

'Ozersky's Rules for Dining Out'
Esquire, June 2013



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Building on 'God Help the Child'

Some scholars may know the satisfaction of having the themes of their work penetrate the mainstream news cycle. Our author Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman has watched acclaimed author Toni Morrison's new book coverage deal with the issues she has studied: colorism, racial hierarchy, and stigma in family and community. Here, Elizabeth writes about how both fiction and scholarship can contribute to a broad conversation about painful issues of race.

Musings on Toni Morrison's God Help the Child
By Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman
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When I read early publicity that Toni Morrison’s newest book, God Help the Child, was a novel written about a dark-skinned black woman who is brutalized by her mother because of her color, it struck a chord. It resonated with me because my first book, The Color of Love: Racial Features, Stigma, and Socialization in Black Brazilian Families, is a sociological book that will be published later this year addressing similar issues. I relished in imagining that Morrison and I may have vibed on the same conceptual wavelength without knowing it, pondering questions of colorism in black families, and leading us to publish a book on similar topics in the same year. I eagerly pre-ordered Toni Morrison’s new book, with excitement and incredulity … and then fear crept in. As a fledgling sociologist, I thought that Morrison’s book could only mean one thing: the kiss of death for my book. But wait, this was no irrational fear. Anyone who has read Morrison’s work knows that when she gives a theme her treatment, she forfeits the necessity of any more words. She articulates with ease in 150 pages, what I can not accomplish with a modicum of the same impact in 350 pages. Visions of us intellectually vibing were now overcome with the sense that her book would render my book redundant and, at worst, mundane. I had the sinking feeling that Toni Morrison had stolen my thunder.

Immediately after this thought passed through my mind, I was overcome with laughter. A laugh that lasted several times longer than the original thought itself. A laugh that was borne out of how completely and utterly preposterous it was to imagine Morrison “stealing my thunder.” What thunder? All I could do was laugh at the absurdity of this idea, as my passion for reading, my desire to write, and my interest in colorism, all find themselves linked to the reverberations of Morrison’s thunder. My childhood memories of her books on my mother’s bookshelf, the same ones that later migrated to my own shelves trace a more accurate truth – my work is the sociological undulation, a mere residual of her oeuvre. Toni Morrison, literary genius and Nobel Laureate, does not and can not steal anyone’s thunder - She IS thunder! 


Monday, April 27, 2015

Yucatán Wins Two James Beard Awards


Last Friday night, the food world gathered in New York City for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony. Our very own David Sterling walked away with the top book award for Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition. Chef Sterling was awarded two medals for his work, 2015 Cookbook of the Year and International Cookbook, and in his speech he confessed to being obsessed with the Amazon rankings of his 6.5 pound, 576-page tome and revealed that it was inspired by a meal of smoky pork belly on the Mexican peninsula.

Read Sterling's guest blog post here.


Listen to Chef Sterling on our podcast:




Well-deserved congratulations to Chef David Sterling! See the full list of winners below.


2015 Book & Journalism Award Winners

The James Beard Foundation would like to acknowledge the generous support of Breville.

Book Awards

Cookbook Hall of Fame

Barbara Kafka

Cookbook of the Year:

Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition
David Sterling
(University of Texas Press)


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hard Landings: Climate Change and Cheap Wine


In observation of the 35th Annual Earth Day on April 22, we asked award-winning writer Seamus McGraw, author of Betting the Farm on a Drought: Stories from the Front Lines of Climate Change, to combine his signature humor and measured approach to the climate change debate for a guest blog post.

'Hard Landings: A Tale of Cheap Wine, Broken Bones and Climate Change'
By Seamus McGraw

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It wasn’t until weeks later--long after the half-gallon of Carlo Rossi red I had swilled and the painkillers that came later in the night wore off--that I actually felt the impact. Sure, I had some vague recollection of the fall, of trying to hop up on the banister in the atrium of my college dorm, three floors above a flagstone foyer, and of missing it by a good six inches. If I racked my brain while recuperating in my bed at home, I could dimly recall a fleeting Wile E. Coyote moment of clarity as I realized that I had indeed missed. And if I really tried, I could even feel myself plunging ass-first through the air as if I were doing a cannonball down onto the stones.

But that’s all. I had no recollection of hitting bottom, no memory of the thunder clap of savage pain that shot through my whole body as part of my hip snapped. What’s more, I had no memory at all of what happened next; how, in an astonishing display of the power of blind, late-adolescent stupidity, I got up, broken hip and all, and, I’m told by several witnesses, tried to run back upstairs, as if rolling the whole episode back to the beginning and doing exactly what I had done again, only this time a little more gracefully, would erase it.

And then, one night, weeks after the incident, while lying in bed half asleep, it all came back, all of it, unbidden-- the panic as I plummeted, the bone-crushing pain as I hit. It was as if it was happening right then and there. But it was, in a way, worse, because with it came a hot rush of shame, not just for being stupid and arrogant enough to do what I did in the first place, but for being such a coward that I wouldn’t even allow myself to fully feel what it was that I had done until I knew I was safe.
That was years ago, and, to the relief of everybody who knows me, I’ve long since given up the Carlo Rossi. But I’ve found myself thinking back to that event a lot in recent days. Most recently, it was when US Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and perhaps that august body’s most strident voice against doing anything to combat anthropogenic global climate change, strutted into the Senate with a snowball in his hand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Announcing Information & Culture Special Issue

Our journals department is proud to announce the Information & Culture Special Issue: The Histories of the Internet.


The current issue of Information & Culture—50(2), available in spring 2015—focuses on the topic “Histories of the Internet.” Guest editors Thomas Haigh, Andrew L. Russell, and William H. Dutton explain the purpose of this special issue:

We explore the gap between broad conceptions of the Internet common in daily life and the rather narrow framing of most existing work on Internet history. Looking at both scholarly histories and popular myths, we suggest that the expanding scope of the Internet has created a demand for different kinds of history that capture the development of the many technological and social practices that converged to create today’s Internet-based online world. Finally, we summarize the articles in this special issue that collectively demonstrate that there is more than one history of the Internet.

The six articles in this special issue answer the question: What is the history of the Internet the history of? Topics include popular histories of the Internet’s pioneers, social perceptions of the Internet, networked computing in education, the genesis and development of networks, and the free and open source software movement. One study concerns the case of a small town’s early adoption of computer networking and its ill-fated municipal fiber project. The authors are known area specialists, including Merav Katz-Kimchi, Christian Oggolder, Joy Rankin, Valérie Schafer, Nadine I. Kozak, and Kevin Driscoll.

Individuals can order the single issue 50(2) at a cost of US$22 within the United States, US$35 in Canada, and US$40 international. Annual subscription for Volume 50 (2015) includes four issues. For information on ordering, see: utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/journals/information-culture


Information & Culture publishes historical studies of topics that fall under information studies as it is practiced by the interdisciplinary information schools. The journal is edited at the School of Information at UT Austin. For more information about Information & Culture, see: infoculturejournal.org/



Friday, April 3, 2015

UT Press at the San Antonio Book Festival

On Saturday, April 11, the University of Texas Press and 8 of our authors will enjoy the 3rd annual San Antonio Book Festival at the Central Library and environs in downtown San Antonio. We'll have a booth in the Exhibitor Tent with tons of titles for sale at a great discount. There are a lot of great authors in attendance (Maureen Corrigan! Neal Pollack! Luis Alberto Urrea!), so we’ve distilled our authors' appearances into a single UT Press schedule.

Get The SABF App For Your Smart Phone. Just go the App Store on your device, download "Eventbase Free" and click on the San Antonio Book Festival tab.


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10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
The Face of Texas
Location: The Studio (Southwest School of Art, Ursuline Campus, across Augusta St. from Library)
Author: Michael O’Brien


A two-time recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for outstanding coverage of the disadvantaged, Michael O’Brien has photographed subjects ranging from small-town heroes to presidents. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Life, National Geographic, Texas Monthly, the London Sunday Times, and the book Hard Ground, which pairs his portraits of the homeless with Tom Waits’s powerful poetry. O’Brien’s photographs are in the permanent collections around the United States, including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

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11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Texas on the Table: People, Places and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State
Location: The Central Market Cooking Tent (Southwest School of Art, in the southwest corner of the Ursuline Campus parking lot)

Author: Terry Thompson-Anderson

Thompson-Anderson is the author of several previous cookbooks, including the best-selling Cajun-Creole Cooking, Texas on the Plate, The Texas Hill Country: A Food and Wine Lover’s Paradise, and Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes, coauthored with Frances Strange. She also writes a regular wine feature for Edible Austin magazine. Thompson-Anderson has taught over 20,000 students at cooking schools all over the country and does restaurant/wine consulting and cooking events around Texas. Her latest book, Texas on the Table: People, Places & Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State has been nominated for a James Beard Award.