Monday, March 30, 2015

Q&A with New JHS Editor Annette Timm

Mathew Kuefler, the editor of the Journal of the History of Sexuality for the past ten years, is passing the torch to Annette Timm, an associate professor of history at the University of Calgary, Canada. A contributor to past issues of the JHS, Timm has published articles for other journals, chapters for books, and her own works, The Politics of Fertility in Twentieth-Century Berlin and Gender, Sex, and the Shaping of Modern Europe: A History from the French Revolution to the Present Day, which she co-authored with Joshua A. Sanborn. 
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Her current work in progress is Lebensborn: Myth, Memory, and the Sexualization of the Nazi Past. Timm has co-organized conferences such as the 2011 “Popular Sex: Mass Media and Sexuality in Germany,” which was combined with PopSex!, an exhibition of archives from Berlin’s early twentieth-century Institute for Sexual Science and original work by artists in Calgary and Berlin; and the 2007 “Democracy and Intimacy: Toward a Moral History of Postwar Europe.”

To help readers learn more about the new editor of the Journal of the History of Sexuality, I conducted an interview with Annette Timm. She discusses her scholarly background, the future of the journal and the important role of academic journals.

Could you tell us about your academic background, and how your research has prepared you for your new role as editor of the Journal of the History of Sexuality?

I received my B.A. in history from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and both 

Annette Trim
my M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern European History from the University of Chicago. When I began writing my dissertation, I was most interested in the history of health care. (This certainly had something to do with the experience of being a Canadian in the U.S. during Clinton’s first administration.) But my interest in eugenics and population politics in Germany— the various efforts of twentieth-century regimes to increase the birth rate— quickly led me to issues of sexuality. I had chosen to focus the dissertation on all aspects of these policies before conception because I wanted to be able to employ a truly relational approach to gender with an equal focus on men and women. But focusing on everything leading up to conception of course meant focusing on sexual choices. I looked at venereal disease control and marriage counseling, because health officials believed that these were the areas of health care where they could exert the most influence on individual Germans’ choices about when, with whom, and with what intentions they should have sex. (Before penicillin, venereal diseases frequently caused sterility and congenital disease, and in my time period, marriage counseling was primarily eugenic.) In revising the dissertation into a book, I refined my argument to insist that these efforts to create a sense of duty around sexual choices were central to the social construction of the German citizen during most of the twentieth century. Turning the “personal is political” slogans of the sixties and seventies on their heads, I argued that it was only after sex was somewhat reliably separated from reproduction that the justification for the worst intrusions into private decisions in the sexual sphere ended. Sex, at least for heterosexuals, could become private again. In Germany, this story was intertwined with the process of overcoming two dictatorships and reestablishing rights to individual bodily integrity. But I believe that similar stories could be told elsewhere and that the demise of a notion of the duty to reproduce was one step on the road to sexual freedoms and family rights for gays and lesbians. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

William Goyen’s Six Women

It's been said that behind every great man is a great woman. For William Goyen, a Texas writer of startling originality whose work attracted the praise of Joyce Carol Oates, there were six women who deeply impacted his life of writing. In honor of Women's History Month, we asked author Clark Davis (It Starts With Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing, May
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2015) to reflect on the strong women who influenced Goyen's life and work.

William Goyen’s Six Women

By Clark Davis, author of the forthcoming It Starts With Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing

In the mid-1970s, at what was arguably the lowest point of his life, William Goyen began writing a letter to his old friend and fellow Texan, Margo Jones. Goyen and Jones had met in 1937 when he was a graduate student at Rice and Jones was assembling the group that would become the Houston Community Players. Their friendship continued through the 1940s and early 1950s when Jones made her reputation as an innovative Broadway director, most notably of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie and Summer and Smoke. By all accounts, they were very close—two East Texans (she from Livingston, he from Trinity), each with a high artistic drive and fervid personality.

There was nothing unusual, in other words, about Goyen writing to an old friend, particularly when he was in distress . . . except for the fact that Jones had died in 1955. Alcohol played a role in her early death, though the direct cause was carbon tetrachloride poisoning: she had fallen asleep on a newly cleaned carpet in her hotel in Dallas. (Goyen had been with her a few nights before and felt helpless and guilty in the face of her depression and drinking.) In the twenty years since, he himself had become an alcoholic and not long before writing Margo had attempted suicide in a hotel in Newport Beach, California. Now, as he remembered her “Texas-girl sweetness and . . . full-faced smile” he saw their lives as parallel: she was his “sister—demonic, rapturous insane in booze and in reverie and golden dream,” and writing to her was his chance “to speak amends of love.”

This letter to Margo Jones became part of Goyen’s never-completed autobiography, an interwoven collection of imagined correspondence addressed to several older women who had been vital presences in his life. “They were women of style and fashion, art, theatre, Letters,” he explained to one potential publisher; “all seemed . . . to be searching for, enjoying, or fleeing, an image of life that was counter to the conventional one of woman as Serving Wife, Listener Only, Mother.” The list included Frieda Lawrence, whom Goyen had come to know in Taos, New Mexico in 1946. A legendary and sometimes scandalous figure, she had left her husband and three children in 1912 for D. H. Lawrence, the author of The White Peacock, eventually moving to the US and settling with him at Kiowa Ranch, high on Lobo Mountain in Taos County. Some years after Lawrence's death in 1930 she began to spend most of her time at her house in El Prado, just a few miles from Taos Plaza.

Dorothy Brett, Frieda Lawrence, and Goyen in Taos.
Source: Harry Ransom Center, 
the University of Texas at Austin.
It was during this period that she met the thirty-one-year-old Navy veteran who was waiting tables at the Sagebrush Inn. In the winter of 1946 Goyen and Walter Berns, his fellow officer from the carrier USS Casablanca, planned to drive from Texas to California where they would live and write in the San Francisco area. They were captivated, however, by snow-covered Taos and decided to stay, attracted more by the landscape, as Goyen later admitted, than the literary community. When the manager of the restaurant introduced him as an aspiring writer to the table that included Frieda, Mabel Dodge Luhan, the printer Spud Johnson, and Tennessee Williams, Goyen was both embarrassed and captivated. A short time later Frieda invited him and Berns to dinner, letting them look through some of Lawrence’s manuscripts, and giving them advice that Goyen seems never to have forgotten. He described the scene in a letter to an old friend in Houston, explaining that Frieda was “a grand old woman, like a peasant Queen, a marvelous smiling face and deep husky Germanic voice, and she answers every question with a lusty and throaty, ‘Ya!’” She “was really inspired several times; and once, as a kind of valedictory, she leaned her head back, looked up toward the ceiling and said, ‘And now . . . I am old and you are young. I say to you that you must fight and refuse to compromise, refuse absolutely to compromise. I lived with a fighter and I know what it is to fight. . . .’”

Sunday, March 8, 2015

'Books that Made Me a Feminist'

To celebrate International Women's Day (and Pretty/Funny coming out in paperback), we're
re-blogging our friends at to feature our author Linda Mizejewski on the most formative texts of her career as a gender studies scholar.

Books that Made Me a Feminist
By Linda Mizejewski
Originally posted on

The books that made me a feminist were the books that got me into trouble. I lost a lover, alienated friends, angered students, got into arguments with teachers—all because of books that followed through on the clichés: something clicked, a light snapped on. But sometimes the click turns into a slammed door, and what we find in the bright light is something we hoped not to see.

When I was in college in the early 1970s, the women in my dorm were passing around books that nobody assigned in classes—Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963) and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1973). We were fascinated with the anger of the narrators who—unlike the heroines of our reading lists (Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, Jane Eyre), didn’t believe that marriage or love or even sex (Jong’s famous “zipless fuck”) was the answer to their seething discontent.

In an English class, a professor told us that novels about women ended with the main characters married or dead. That was the larger cultural sentiment about women, too. But this was also the era of free love and the birth control pill. The Bell Jar and Fear of Flying struck a chord because these heroines were caught up in mixed messages. One of my all-time favorite literary images is Plath’s alter-ego character Esther tossing designer clothes from a rooftop in Manhattan. The things in her life that were supposed to make her pretty and special instead were making her crazy. The arguments started when I went to graduate school and was told these books weren’t “real” literature.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Five Myths about Corpus Christi

What U.S. state has the most tall tales and great American legends? Of course Texans would say Texas, with our colorful history full of personalities like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie at the Alamo, but often myths and legends need the tempering of history to get to the truth. We asked Professor Alan Lessoff to draw from his new book Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and Its History to dispel some of the myths about Corpus Christi.

Five Myths about Corpus Christi
by Alan Lessoff, author of Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and Its History

I subtitled my book Corpus Christi and Its History because I was less interested in recounting the city in a narrative and detached way than I was in understanding the many
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ways that Corpus Christians write, talk, and argue about their history and how those varied perspectives shape the city now. Sophisticated historians know that their job is not merely to use facts to disprove myths, though one has to do that sometimes. Myths are themselves historical forces that require study, since they serve as vehicles through which people express their identity, values, and goals. Anyone who has taken a halfway decent sophomore humanities class knows that true stories take on mythic qualities when people wrap them in epic grandeur. Much of Corpus Christi’s significance to Texas history starts from its having been a place where Texas’s two largest true myths came against one another: the south-to-north Hispanic Texan epic of explorers and empresarios and the east-to-west Anglo Texan lore of the frontier, ranchers, rangers, and town boosters. Within the context of those two epics, numerous other stories have appeared, some of which veered into myths in the sense of misconceptions that need clearing up. Where Texas Meets the Sea treats each of these misconceptions respectfully, because they meant a lot to the people who adhered to them and revealed much about them and their city:


Explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda named Corpus Christi Bay on Corpus Christi Day in 1519. This story, which one still sometimes finds in tourist publications, is believable only if one discards all normal rules of historical evidence. No written record of the Álvarez de Pineda expedition has survived. The first Spanish document that refers to the bay by name dates from the 1740s, and that document assigns it another name. The earliest documented use of “Corpus Christi Bay” dates from 1766, in connection to the colonizing expedition that finally set up a continuous Spanish presence in the vicinity. In a 2011 article, the Corpus Christi librarian and historian Herb Canales summarized the evidence pointing to the reasonable conclusion that someone in that 1760s expedition named the bay. On top of all that, before the 1920s, local accounts sometimes claimed that members of France’s ill-fated LaSalle expedition named the bay on Corpus Christi Day in 1685, a provenance only slightly more plausible than Álvarez de Pineda. As my book recounts, Anglo promoters, in keeping with the early twentieth-century fashion for Spanish colonial romance, spread the Álvarez de Pineda story in the 1920s and 1930s. Decades later, Hispanic heritage activists became the story’s guardians, in part as a vehicle for expressing ethnic pride and dramatizing Hispanics’ prior claim upon the region. In print—and on the Pineda monument in Westside Corpus Christi—supporters have usually been careful to label the story a “legend,” but through the 1990s, people would tell one in conversation that they believed it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Austin’s Homegrown Sound

"Like a playlist that charts the musical arc of a certain time and place," writes arts critic Jeanne Claire van Ryzin of the Austin American-Statesman, “Homegrown provides the visual soundtrack to an Austin as it emerged into a progressive music town." Well, now 
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there's an actual soundtrack to accompany the book and exhibitionHomegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967 to 1982. Our Spotify playlist is like a crash course in the diverse music scenes of Austin's heyday.

When most people think about the Austin music scene of the late 1960s and 70s, they think of psychedelia, classic rock, or progressive country, but the music posters covered in Homegrown include lesser-known Austin scenes like blues and punk. So, yes, of course Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Doug Sahm are on our playlist, but so are acts like Big Joe Williams, Walter Page, and Clifton Chenier.

Follow this playlist on Spotify for an indispensable aural history of Austin from the late 1960s up until the 1980s. As we all know, the music of the eighties is an entirely different story.

"Starvation"Golden Dawn: This cult-status psychedelia band from Austin still plays Psych Fest.

"Rainy Sunday Morning"
—The Thingies: An obscure band that was only in Austin for about five months before their manager got in trouble with the IRS.

"Mojo Hand"—Lightnin' Hopkins: This Texas bluesman recorded more albums than any other blues musician. Read all about his life and music in the award-winning book Mojo Hand by Timothy J. O'Brien and David Ensminger.

"You're Gonna Miss Me"
—The 13th Floor Elevators: Often credited as one of the first psychedelic bands in the history of rock n' roll (according to Wikipedia), this seminal band featured guitarist and vocalist Roky Erickson and influenced acts from ZZ Top to Primal Scream. This song leads the High Fidelity soundtrack. They're playing their 50th year reunion on May 10! Visit for more information.

"Homesick Armadillo Blues"—Shiva's Headband: House band of the Vulcan Gas Company of the 1960s and part founders of the Armadillo World Headquarters, these guys still perform in Austin and were crucial to Austin's legendary music scene.

"CIA Man"—The Fugs: The Fugs protested war through satirical songs and staged "The Real Woodstock Festival" to fight against the commercialization of Woodstock '94. This song is featured in the Coen brother's movie Burn After Reading.

"Sunday Morning"—The Velvet Underground: Andy Warhol challenged Lou Reed to write a song about paranoia and this is Reed's answer to Warhol's challenge. It's a pretty fitting subject for the heady Sixties.

"Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"—Johnny Winter: This earlier version was later recorded by Rick Derringer and hit #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. Johnny Winter originally thought this song was a little corny, but Winter's version is certainly bluesier than Derringer's.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Book that Outraged a Nation

There's a new book blog that we're thrilled to have our authors contributing to: Books Combined. Started by Combined Academic Publishers, the goal of the blog is to facilitate a conversation among scholars about the importance of books. From
This blog isn’t about selling books – it’s about understanding the power of books. 
Better than anyone, we think scholars understand books’ potential, and how books, as repositories for ideas, can change us, and our perspective on the world. In we’re asking scholars to write about the books that have had a significant impact on their lives – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In their latest post, our author Lance deHaven Smith (Conspiracy Theory in America, 2013) has written about the biggest influences of his career: a shocking story his grandfather told him as a child, and a pioneering American conspiracy scholar, Charles Beard, who confirmed the controversial conspiracy theory behind America's entry into World War II.

Bullet holes remaining from the 1941 attack at Pearl Harbor.
Photo taken by Howard Gribble

The Book that Outraged a Nation
By Lance deHaven-Smith
Originally posted on

I began to study conspiracy theories after learning that many of them have turned out to be true. One of the most shocking is that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew when and where Japan was going to strike in the Pacific but intentionally failed to warn U.S. military commanders at Pearl Harbor.

In letting Japan surprise U.S. forces, Roosevelt’s motive was to bring the United States into World War II and foment social panic and outrage to fuel support for the war effort.

My grandfather told me about this when I was five years old. He had been wounded in World War II at Anzio during the U.S. invasion of Italy. He thought America’s top leaders cared little about the nation’s ordinary soldiers. In high school, I learned by happenstance that my grandfather’s story was not mere speculation. I came across a book by Charles Beard that explained and documented Roosevelt’s intrigue and deceit.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spring 2015 Preview

This spring and summer, UT Press will publish significant works in photographyfilm and media studies, architecture, Latin American StudiesMiddle Eastern Studies, and Latina/o Studiesincluding a compelling chronicle of the dangers, fears, shared histories and aspirations that bind Mexicans and Americans despite the U.S./Mexico border walls.
Below is a preview of our spring books, with videos and interior images. Browse our full catalog here or below:

By Seamus McGraw

"This title deserves a wide and varied readership; it has the power to change minds.”

Booklist starred review

“Seamus McGraw takes on an immense and cacophonous subject—climate change—and does so in a way that avoids the usual polarities of denial versus panic. He does an excellent job of seeking out interested American parties who don’t typically have a voice in the debate and makes a case that leadership on the issue probably won’t come from the conventional class of ‘leaders’ (namely, Congress). . . . His pragmatism and his refusal to live in a world of ideals make this a worthy project. . . . It deserves an audience of good readers.”

—Tom Zoellner, author of Train: Riding the Rails that Created the Modern World and The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire
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Music ]
By Eddie Huffman

“Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs.”
—Bob Dylan, Huffington Post

“The unlikely success of the reluctant performer makes for fascinating reading.”
Kirkus Reviews

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Beyond the Forest Q&A with Loli Kantor

To mark the start of Hanukkah, we asked photographer Loli Kantor to answer some questions about her new book, Beyond the Forest: Jewish Presence in Eastern Europe, 2004–2012. Kantor is the daughter of Polish Jews who met and married in Munich after the war. Born in France and raised in Israel, she has spent the last thirty years living stateside in Fort Worth, Texas. In the early 2000s, she was compelled to set out in search of her roots. In the book's introduction, Anda Rottenberg sets up the devastating details that spurred Kantor's travels in Eastern Europe over an eight-year period:
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"The face of her mother, who died in childbirth, is something familiar only from photographs. Of her father, she knows his place of birth and his short, professional CV, most likely written for the U.S. State Department and thus omitting the details of his war experiences....she knew little of the historical landscape from which her parents emerged, the territory of Central-Eastern Europe—stretching from the western borders of prewar Poland to the line connecting Leningrad, Smolensk, and Kursk in the east, Tallinn in the north, and Crimea in the south—and aptly described by Timothy Snyder as the 'bloodlands.' From 1933 to 1945 this region witnessed the deaths of 14 million innocent people, including women, children, and the elderly. Up until 1948 it also experienced mass forced displacement of whole populations (Jews, Roma, Poles, Germans, and Rusyns), as well as the “voluntary” exile of those who hoped to save their lives or improve their fate."
Kantor's photo-essay is a very moving account of her personal journey to reconcile incredible loss with hope, faith, and community. Given recent events in the area, we took the opportunity to ask her about what Jewish communities now under Russian rule  in the Crimea region are coping.

We wish you and yours a Happy Hanukkah. Chag Chanukah sameach!

Q: The plates in the book progress from stark black-and-white images to colorful, people and food–filled scenes, almost winter to spring. How does that evoke what you experienced in your travels and time spent in these communities?

The transition from black-and-white to color, from stark to bright does reflect my disposition at the beginning of the project. I made my first trip in November 2005, purposefully to have this stark, cold, and snowy atmosphere in the works, using black-and-white film. This was partly intentional and was also my state of mind about the place of Jewish presence and absence in Eastern Europe.

Block 11 | Auschwitz, 2005 | Poland

Thursday, December 11, 2014

5 Things You Need to Know about "Boyhood"

**Update: Congratulations to the entire Boyhood team for the three Golden Globe wins! **

To celebrate Boyhood's five Golden Globe nominations, here are five very important things that you need to know about Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Congratulations to Rick Linklater (nominated for Best Director, Best Screenplay), Patricia Arquette (nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Ethan Hawke (nominated for Best Supporting Actor), and to the entire cast and crew for the Best Motion Picture, Drama nomination. We'll be watching on January 11!

The Beatles' The Black Album is real. Late in the film, Ethan Hawke’s father character presents Mason (Ellar Coltrane) with “a family heirloom that money couldn’t buy,” The Beatles’ The Black Album. A three-volume mega mix-tape that collects the best of McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr from their solo careers. Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater collaborated on making the track list of The Black Album a reality. Here’s a sample of the first few songs:

     Disc 1: 
1. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run” 

2. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord” 

3. John Lennon feat. The Flux Fiddlers & the Plastic Ono Band, “Jealous Guy” 

4. Ringo Starr, “Photograph”

For the complete list check out Indiewire’s full write up on The Black Album: The Post-Beatles Black Album From Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Follow us on Spotify for our 3-part playlist! 

There's more to the haircut scene than you might think. In preparation for a scene midway through the movie, Richard Linklater asked Ellar Coltrane to refrain from cutting his hair for a year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Life in the Bronx by Martin Dones

The Bronx of the 1970s and '80s is not the Bronx of today, but the issues affecting urban youth—poverty, drug abuse, violence, and police aggression—haven't magically gone away. Recent racial tensions between police and minority communities in the aftermath of Eric Garner and Michael Brown have brought widespread media attention to the problematic ways some law enforcement behave in urban neighborhoods across the country.

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Photographer Stephen Shames' new book Bronx Boys includes an arresting essay by Martin Dones, a Puerto Rican kid who insured Shames gained the trust he needed to photograph life in the Bronx. Dones painfully articulates the truth of trying to survive and have a life in a rough area rife with gang violence. His story is a powerful account of the brutal cycle the young and marginalized find themselves trapped in: no money, little access to quality education, and no trust in the police. We have excerpted part of his essay below. There is much more to his story, and an additional essay by José "Poncho" Muñoz in the book.

We're so proud that Bronx Boys was named one of the 27 photobooks that defined 2014 by Time Magazine: TIME Picks the Best Photobooks of 2014 

My Memories
By Martin Dones

I don’t know if you remember this cop from the Bronx named Officer Jet. President Clinton gave him an award. Well, it was in the news and everything. A journalist ran around with him. The New York Times Magazine wrote an article about our block and they gave them all nicknames, like Beefcake, Beefhead. He told how bad they were. He said that they made $100,000 a week. They made enough money, but not that much. He told the story the way he thinks the story went. It’s just what he assumes.

This is the real story on how everything happened. How they cut the crack. How the drugs came out of LO’s mother’s house. About their machine guns—their AK47s and M16s. How they had their hands on some real high-power ammunition. How they had enough for a war if anybody came down for it.

This is my story. I’ve been on the street, got tangled in drugs, been in the gangs. I lived through violence—murder, stabbings, fights. The streets helped me learn all the mistakes that I had to learn. I’m sorry that I had to learn them that way, but I had to.

I was a dead man who got lucky.

It’s hard to get out of the ghetto. The ghetto could be fine. You could be raised there and go to college. It’s just the violence—the way things evolved from fistfights to gunfights. Eventually it soaks into you. You learn what you live.

My childhood contributed—the drugs that my mother did. To this day she does drugs. I don’t have a mother. I just have a “mother” who gave birth to me. I have a father, but I’ve only known him since I was twenty-three. As a kid I was mad at my mom. I was mad at the things around me. I’d go out in the street, knowing that I can’t hit my mother, and want to punch somebody in the face—just to get the anger off of me. It’s like you’re locked in a room and you have to do something.

Then again, I had people who were showing me go to school. Telling me, “Do what you have to do. Forget about the streets.”

I’ve known Steve since I was ten years old, and I’m forty-five now. He played a major part in keeping me alive. So did my godparents, Rocky and Connie of the Boys Club, teaching me woodworking and magic, taking me into their home, sometimes giving me the only meal I had that day.

So I had two directions. I had to choose which way I wanted to go. Whether I wanted to go to jail and die or live my life and be happy with my family.

I chose to go with my family and just be a normal person.

Connie once told me, “That’s what life is all about. We’re doing nothing else in life but collecting memories, because after all is said and done, when we’re gone, what do you remember?”

These are my memories.

My First Memory

My first memory is still as clear as a picture: my cousin being murdered. I didn’t actually see him being murdered, but I heard the thud of his body hitting the pavement. That death sound is the first thing I remember. Thud. I jump awake, startled, and everybody is screaming. My mother lies disheveled next to me on the bed, fainted. Everybody is on top of her: “Give her air.” I hop out of bed and run toward the window. That’s where all the action is.

My four-year-old eyes see the playground of the school I will soon attend, every day walking past my memories. A white blanket lies on the black asphalt. A cop lifts the blanket off a body and my cousin’s face, black and blue and all swelled up. He is naked. My mother screams, “Get away from the window.” That is all, but it is enough to fill my head. I still dream about it.

It comes like a flash, without warning while I’m watching TV or walking. Flash. I see his bruised, swollen face, his naked body as the cop pulls off the blanket. It will be with me till the day I die. It is my first memory, one of my highlights growing up.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Go with the Flow: Our Guide to Giving Books

We are all being bombarded with enticements to buy as holiday sales and the shopping season ramp up. Don't get overwhelmed! Get books for everyone on your list this year. Don't know where to start? Use this handy flowchart to find the best gift books for your family and friends (or for yourself! That is allowed.)

All books on our website are 33% off. Always. To ensure books arrive by Christmas Day, order by December 1 for international delivery and by 
December 15 for domestic delivery. Happy Shopping!

hristmas came early for us this year! See if you can spot our incredible cookbook in Barnes and Noble's holiday ad.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The World as Seen Through Turkeys

By Nicolas Trépanier

If Thanksgiving taught me anything, it is that the United States is a foreign country. They do things differently here.

When I moved across the border from my native Québec in order to pursue my doctoral studies, I brought with me a firm conviction that I would find myself in known territory. I had already spent a quarter century consuming American cultural products, after all, and I was relocating only a few hundred miles from my hometown. Later that Fall, as Thanksgiving was approaching, I did not expect much more than the Thanksgivings I was used to: a day off school, a meaningless but welcome hole in the collective schedule just when I had a 

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term paper in desperate need of being written.

But what I actually ended up encountering was one of the highlights of the annual calendar, a celebration with well-established rituals and social obligations that emptied the graduate dorm where I lived and that caused much pity to be cast upon us, poor international students who (as we suddenly discovered) were expected to feel deeply depressed to be away from our families on such a special occasion. Thanksgiving, I realized, was completely new to me.

And why should it not? Thanksgiving might be the most American of holidays, both because of its gravitational pull in our calendars and because it does not have a real counterpart outside Anglophone North America. This strongly regional character, in turn, means that a deep look at Thanksgiving can yield a lot of insights about the culture that created it. It’s a way to look over America’s shoulder as it waits in line to cash out at the supermarket, and to draw all sorts of conclusions on the way it lives its private life.

Looking into a culture’s shopping cart and drawing all sorts of conclusions about it is also what I do in my book Foodways and Daily Life in Medieval Anatolia—except that it involves another kind of Turkey. Looking at a region that was about to become part of the Ottoman empire, the book examines the various ways people interacted with food (growing it, buying it, eating it or avoiding it for religious reasons) in order to reconstruct the texture of daily life in a culture far removed from our own, far from the bird turke and from cranberry sauce.

Food can be a pretext to document almost anything. Let’s take the way that food enters a house and reserves are managed, for example. Fourteenth-century sources include a number of anecdotes where men, after several days of deep immersion in religious rituals, are suddenly snapped out of their devotions by worries about supplying their homes with bread and meat. In another set of anecdotes, we encounter devout young women who, having taken bread and oil from the house to feed a wandering dervish, have to bear the wrath of their sinful mother-in-law, herself blinded to sainthood by her jealous management of the food pantry. These, and a host of other anecdotes, superficially center on food provisioning. But they also paint a vivid picture of the distribution of power and responsibilities among genders and generations, the collaborative and conflictual character of their interactions, and the contrast between the ways social roles played out outside and inside the house.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Flatlanders-Inspired Driving Mix by John T. Davis

A car stereo, a great music mix, and a good long drive can put everything into perspective and nobody knows this truth better than West Texas musicians. Why? Well, let music writer John T. Davis explain through this ultimate West Texas driving mix inspired by the subject of his latest book, The Flatlanders: Now It’s Now Again

A West Texas Driving Mix
By John T. Davis

Route 66…That hard-assed Amarillo Highway…the Loop…the Strip…the Lost Highway…the Eight’r From Decatur…

Roads aren’t just strips of asphalt in West Texas—they are lifelines and metaphors and escape routes and the promise that lies somewhere over yonder. In a dusty and isolated landscape where so much seems fixed in place, there’s healing power in movement. Terry Allen, the artist and musician who has spent his creative life in a love/hate relationship with the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains once said, “No one with access to a car and a good radio station should ever need a psychiatrist.”

The Flatlanders, whose personal and musical journey I’ve chronicled in a new book, The Flatlanders: Now It’s Now Again, grew up driving the highways, ranch roads and farm-to-market byways that surrounded their home in Lubbock, Texas. The “road,” both literal and metaphorical, has always informed the music made by the group and by its three central figures—Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Even today, says Joe Ely, when he needs musical inspiration, he’ll take off and drive the grid of tiny back roads that thread their way across the empty plains. It’s a big, blank reservoir of silence, begging to be filled with music.

In that spirit, I’ve put together a mix tape for driving across the plains of West Texas—it’s been a long day behind the wheel, the sun is finally beginning to set and the lights of a small town glimmer on a distant, ruler-straight horizon. The road, as Tom Russell likes to sing, it gives, and the road it takes away.

Access the playlist on your Spotify account here.

“Amarillo Highway”—Terry Allen (from Lubbock On Everything): “I’m a high straight in Plainview/Side bet in Idalou/And a fresh deck in New Deal,” sings Allen against a honky-tonk piano and steel guitar. “Some call me high hand/And some call me low hand/But I’m holding what I am—the wheel.” US Hwy. 87, about which Allen was singing, has been supplanted by modern Interstate 27, but the groove is still the same.

“Rave On”—Buddy Holly (from the album The Buddy Holly Collection): Because, duh. Lubbock native Holly set the template for the modern rock band, scored huge hits, inspired the Beatles (and the Flatlanders) and became the first rock ‘n’ roll martyr, all by age 22. Roll down the window, crank it up and let ‘er rip.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day Analysis from Ross Ramsey and Wayne Thorburn

Today is Election Day and the news cycle is abuzz with pundits weighing in on projected outcomes both nationally and here in Texas. The first post-Perry gubernatorial race since the beginning of the new millennium is shaking up Texas politics as usual, with political star Wendy Davis up against Greg Abbott. It's a big election, so we invited Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune (happy belated birthday, y'all!) to talk with Wayne Thorburn (author of Red Stateabout how Texas politics got where it is today. This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune on October 10, 2014, here.

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Analysis: In Democrats' Fall, a Lesson for GOP
by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune
October 10, 2014

One of the people who steered Texas from a one-party Democratic state to a one-party Republican state sees some similarities between the Republican Party of the 1970s and 1980s and the Democrats of today.

Wayne Thorburn does not think Texas Democrats are ready to take back the state — not yet. But he does see some cautionary signs for his party in the Democrats’ fall.

Thorburn was executive director of the Republican Party of Texas from 1977 to 1983 — a period that saw both the 1978 election of the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and the 1982 election that wiped out almost all of the Republican gains to that date. The 1982 election was the last time that Democrats swept the statewide elections in Texas.

He believes the Republicans were in better political condition when they began making serious inroads than the Democrats are today. Back then, the moderates among the Democrats — they were derided as conservatives — were increasingly out of ideological sync with Democrats on the national ticket. Texas has not sided with the Democratic presidential candidate since 1976. While Republicans then were gradually increasing turnout for their primary elections, Democrats today are seeing declining turnout for their primaries.

He does see some parallels. For instance, when the Democrats controlled the state, their infighting created an opportunity for John Tower, a Republican college professor, to win Lyndon B. Johnson’s former seat in the U.S. Senate in 1961. These days, infighting among Republican factions is common and often bitter; still, Democrats have not been able to crack the statewide blockade.

Thorburn does not believe that poses an immediate threat to the title of his book, Red State: An Insider’s Story of How the GOP Came to Dominate Texas Politics.

“Even though Tower broke the ice in 1961, it was not until 17 years later that Republicans were able to win,” he said. It took the better part of two more decades to reach a Republican sweep of statewide elections in 1996. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Frederick Aldama on Meeting Robert Rodriguez

Part of the fun of Halloween is the opportunity to embody favorite characters from film and pop culture. For most of us, that's the closest we'll get to experiencing the fictional worlds that have inspired and entertained us, but for scholar Frederick Luis Aldama, meeting and interviewing filmmaker Robert Rodriguez for his latest book immersed him in the movie magic he'd admired for decades. We asked him what that was like. Enjoy his guest blog post and some bonus Halloween costume ideas inspired by the cinema of Robert Rodriguez:

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Meeting Robert Rodriguez
By Frederick Luis Aldama

Like all the books I’ve written, The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez had its fair share of scary and even physically painful twists and turns. Like those rollercoaster rides of my younger days, there was a lot of joyful exhilaration thrown into the mix.

Ever since watching El Mariachi and then his short “Bedhead” and then writing a review of Rebel Without a Crew way back when still wet behind the ears, I’ve been fascinated with Rodriguez: his just-do-it approach and his comic-book (or more specifically, his Tex-Avery Cartoon) worldview. He would get the film done, often learning new film techniques in the process and he would go to places that straight-up realist films didn’t. Social mores went out the window and, like the wolf in Tex-Avery’s Droopy cartoons, his characters often defied all natural laws. He was hands-down the most exciting and productive Latino filmmaker out there.

As I wove my way through undergrad and grad school then became a college professor, he was churning out films of all sorts and that had us going to places never before imagined. To date, he’s made over 18 feature films, published a comic book, and runs a Latino-content cable network (El Rey).

Monday, October 20, 2014

UT Press at the 2014 Texas Book Festival

This weekend, the University of Texas Press and 13 of our authors will enjoy the 19th annual Texas Book Festival on the Capitol grounds in downtown Austin and environs. We're still pinching ourselves that Richard Linklater will be part of a panel for one of our books, Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film. We'll have a booth on Colorado Street with tons of titles for sale at a great discount, so please stop by. There are a lot of great authors in attendance this year, so we’ve distilled our authors' appearances into a single UT Press schedule (browse the full schedule here):
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11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Surf Texas
Author: Kenny Braun
Location: The Contemporary

Where to find the author online:
@KennyBraunPhoto | Facebook | Website

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11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.016

Where to find the author online:
Author Guest Blog | @Winegarten | Website

1:00 - 2:00 PM
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The Devil’s Backbone
Author: Bill Wittliff
Texas Tent

"This lively story, part novel and part yarn, is a fine read!"     ―Larry McMurtry

"Bill Wittliff’s The Devil’s Backbone is a wonderful tale that does honor to the ancient art of storytelling. It is destined to be an American classic."     ―Jim Harrison

"It’s mythic. It’s historic. It’s folk wisdom and wit. Best of all, it’s a master storyteller at the top of his game practicing the ancient art he heard as a kid growing up in Edna in the 1940s."     ―Jane Sumner, Austin American-Statesman