Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Dawn Durante Named Editor in Chief of the University of Texas Press

Austin, Texas—The University of Texas Press is thrilled to announce that following a nationwide search, Dawn Durante will become the next Editor in Chief of the Press on August 10.

As Editor in Chief, Durante will lead the editorial direction of the Books program at UT Press, enriching and expanding a list of approximately one hundred new titles each year

across a broad range of subjects including U.S. history and American studies, Women’s Studies, and Black Studies.

“I am elated to be joining the University of Texas Press. It is a professional dream to be stepping into an Editor in Chief role, and I am fortunate to be doing so at a Press I admire for its dynamic staff, talented acquisitions team, and its high publishing standards,” said Durante.

"What strikes me about UT Press," she continued, “is its longstanding commitment to borders and borderlands—geographic borders like the Texas borderland itself, the bounds of ancient empires, the conceptual borders of imperialism, and the expansion of intellectual boundaries in the fields the Press serves, like contemporary American music, Latinx studies, and media and popular culture. I am delighted that I'll be able to continue to acquire books in familiar territories like history, American studies, and Black studies, while expanding my editorial frontiers to new areas. It is a true privilege to have the opportunity to fuse the UT Press publishing program with my editorial vision and to work with and support the acquisitions team along with the Press's valuable network, particularly its authors, series editors, and advisory committee members."

Durante joins UT Press from the University of Illinois Press, where she has served as a senior acquisitions editor since 2016. A Phoenix native, Dawn got her B.A. in English from the University of Arizona and her M.A. in English from Arizona State. At ASU, she wrote her master’s thesis on ebooks and peer review and also earned a Scholarly Publishing Graduate Certificate. Dawn began her publishing career with internships at the University of Arizona Press and Cluj University Press in Romania, before settling into a permanent position at UIP in 2011.

At Illinois, Durante has worked with authors and series editors including Brittney Cooper, Keisha Blain, Koritha Mitchell, Darlene Clark Hine, Deborah Gray White, and the University of Texas’s own Christen Smith and Karma Chávez. Her acquisitions represent a broad range of intellectual commitments, from L.H. Stallings' multi-award winning Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures to Anya Jabour's biography of Sophonisba Breckinridge, whose life and activism spanned the Civil War to the Cold War, to Joseph Vogel's James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era and Emily Thuma's All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence. She has published books that have won awards in a variety of disciplines, including the American Political Science Association's Michael Harrington Book Award, which recognizes books that demonstrate how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world, the American Historical Association's Wesley-Logan prize, and the Lambda Literary Award for the Best Book in LGBTQ Studies.

Active in the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) community, Durante is recognized as a leader on issues like equity, mentorship, and professional development. In addition to her many presentations, Dawn has served on the AUPresses’ Task Force on Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect and was the chair of the association’s Professional Development Committee in 2017-2018.

Durante brings a depth and breadth of knowledge and connections to our Acquisitions team as well as a clear and exciting vision for the future of the press. Director Robert Devens noted, “I could not be happier to be welcoming Dawn to UT Press. She brings to the position of Editor in Chief a stellar acquisitions background, a broad understanding of the publishing landscape, and the strong leadership skills to usher UTP’s editorial program to its next successes.”

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The University of Texas Press serves knowledge seekers in an information-rich world through the publication of books and journals in a wide range of fields. Our work is a focal point where the life experiences, insights, and specialized knowledge of writers converge to be disseminated in both print and digital formats. Established in 1950, UT Press has published more than 3,000 books over six decades.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On Publishing and Racial Justice

June 10, 2020 - This week George Floyd is being celebrated in Houston, where he grew up. In our home state of Texas and throughout the country, protestors have raised their voices against the systematic suppression of Black voices, the excessive use of force against protestors, and the murders of named and unnamed Black people. The University of Texas Press joins these condemnations and supports the essential and urgent work of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Our publishing mission is to serve the people of Texas and knowledge seekers around the world by publishing valuable and relevant information to educate, advance scholarship, and deepen our understanding of history, current events, and contemporary cultures. Our authors reveal the connections between law enforcement along the US-Mexico border and the militarization of the police in this country. They study how cultural trauma is disproportionally inflicted upon and suffered by communities of color, the severity of which is compounded by white systems of power. And they examine the personal histories and the cultural impact of art created, transformed, and advanced by Black creators.

We believe deeply that these kinds of books, and the historical and cultural perspectives they foster, have an important role to play in the broader conversations now taking place. At the same time, we acknowledge that the book publishing industry itself, with a Black workforce of only 5 percent, has a very long way to go. Without the opportunities for meaningful and gainful entry-level jobs, barriers remain for young publishers of color. Unpaid internships; poor oversight of recruitment, promotion, and retainment; and a broad lack of equity training and accountability systems have made publishing an unwelcoming field for Black professionals.

The University of Texas Press is committed to asking difficult questions of ourselves and our institution to purposefully seek solutions. We are committed to the ongoing work of increasing staff diversity while providing professional development opportunities, training all staff to participate in an equitable work environment, and regularly reviewing our acquisitions and peer review practices to ensure broad representation. We are committed to advancing the works and expertise of Black scholars and artists, decentering whiteness when celebrating Black cultural production, and investing deliberately in our outreach to share publishing opportunities and market Black authors.

It is crucial for us to reckon with privilege, gather our peers, and actively protect and advance the rights, lives, and self-determination of Black people. In the coming weeks and months, we will be joining with others in listening, amplifying voices, sharing resources, and centering the work that must be done. In a time of uncertainty, precarity, and division, our ears and our inboxes are open.

As we continue to educate ourselves in efforts to dismantle white supremacy, we also want to do our part to elevate Black voices. We have compiled a list of our staff’s favorite books by Black authors who have made an impact on us, especially at a time when context and deep thinking are necessary.

  • Affrilachia, Frank X Walker
  • The Age of Phillis, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  • American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assasin, Terrance Hayes
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Birds of Opulence, Crystal Wilkinson
  • Blackberries, Blackberries, Crystal Wilkinson
  • Black Bone: 25 Years of Affrilachian Writers, edited by Bianca Spriggs and Jeremy Paden
  • Black from the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Fiction, edited by Stephanie Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle
  • Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, Cedric Robinson
  • The Black Poets, Dudley Randall
  • Black Skins, White Masks, Franz Fanon
  • Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, Hortense Spillers
  • Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood, bell hooks
  • Book of Hours: Poems, Kevin Young
  • The Book of Night Women, Marlon James
  • A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland, DaMaris B. Hill
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
  • The Bridge of Beyond, Simone Schwarz-Bart
  • Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James
  • Broken Earth series, N. K. Jemisin
  • Brown: Poems, Kevin Young
  • Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Kevin Young
  • Cane, Jean Toomer
  • Can't Escape Love, Alyssa Cole
  • The Century Cycle (plays), August Wilson
  • The Changeling, Victor LaValle
  • Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, Zadie Smith
  • Clotel, or the President's Daughter, William Wells Brown
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  • Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael Twitty
  • Dawn, Octavia Butler
  • Delicious Foods, James Hannaham
  • Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive, Marisa Fuentes 
  • Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems, Danez Smith
  • The Edna Lewis Cookbook, Edna Lewis and Evangeline Peterson
  • Eight Men: Short Stories, Richard Wright
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, Brittney Cooper
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, Ntozake Shange
  • Freedom as Marronage, Neil Roberts
  • Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
  • Gather Together in My Name, Maya Angelou
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown, Talia Hibbert
  • Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin
  • Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, Ruth Wilson Gilmore
  • The Good Lord Bird, James McBride
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • Head Off and Split, Nikky Finney
  • The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou
  • Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon
  • The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter
  • Home, Toni Morrison
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, Kiese Laymon
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era, Richard Iton
  • Insurrections, Rion Amilcar Scott
  • Intimate Justice: The Black Female Body and the Body Politic, Shatema Threadcraft
  • Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  • Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride, Frank X Walker
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
  • The Known World, Edward P. Jones
  • Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, Dr. Willie Parker
  • Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, Saidiya Hartman
  • Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  • Men We Reaped: A Memoir, Jesmyn Ward
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
  • No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity, Sarah Haley
  • On Beauty, Zadie Smith
  • On the Come Up, Angie Thomas
  • The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration, January 20, 2009, Elizabeth Alexander
  • Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones
  • The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, Daina Ramey Berry
  • Pride, Ibi Zoboi
  • Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields
  • Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class, Robin D. G. Kelley
  • Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny, Rebekah Weatherspoon
  • Recyclopedia, Harryette Mullen
  • The Sellout, Paul Beatty
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Maya Angelou
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
  • A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid
  • Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, Junauda Petrus
  • Sula, Toni Morrison
  • Summer Lightning, Olive Senior
  • Swallow the Fish, Gabrielle Civil
  • Tar Baby, Toni Morrison
  • Texaco, Patrick Chamoiseau
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Thick: And Other Essays, Tressie McMillan Cottom
  • The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  • The Venus Hottentot: Poems, Elizabeth Alexander
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays, Samantha Irby
  • We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The works of Stuart Hall
  • The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon
  • You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
  • Zone One, Colson Whitehead

Friday, April 17, 2020

Robert Devens Named Director of the University of Texas Press

Austin, Texas—The University of Texas Press announces with great pride and genuine excitement that Robert Devens has been named its next director.

“Robert’s deep knowledge of academic publishing, his experience at UT Press, and his collaborative relationships with the scholarly community at UT Austin are tremendous assets,” said Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost. “During his time at UT,

he has served as a visible, public ambassador for the Press by articulating the critical role of university presses in supporting faculty scholarship, and research.”

Devens joined UT Press in 2013 as assistant editor-in-chief, rising to the role of editor-in-chief in 2014 and assistant director in 2018. During these years, Devens led the editorial department toward greater successes in its many core areas — from the establishment of new series in fields ranging from Latinx studies to film studies, to more extensive general interest offerings in areas such as biography and music.

Devens has also served as UT Press’s editor in architecture, American studies, and U.S. history. He was the founding acquisitions editor for the Press’s Lateral Exchanges series in architecture and has been instrumental in the development of both the Texas Bookshelf and the Katrina Bookshelf. His many notable acquisitions include Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity, Guitar King: Michael Bloomfield’s Life in the Blues, Taking the Land to Make the City: A Bicoastal History of North America, São Paulo: A Graphic Biography, and Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide.

As director, Devens brings to the position more than twenty years of experience in academic publishing. Before coming to Texas, he devoted thirteen years to the acquisitions department at the University of Chicago Press, working his way from editorial assistant to senior editor. There, he acquired trade and scholarly books in American studies, history, and urban studies, including many bestselling and award-winning titles, and he was the founding acquisitions editor for the American Beginnings and Chicago Visions & Revisions series.

In his work at Chicago and Texas, Devens has stressed the centrality of institutional partnerships to the success of the university press endeavor, fostering publishing relationships with museums and archives ranging from the Chicago History Museum to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

“I am thrilled to be the next director of the University of Texas Press. In my seven years here, I’ve been honored to work with devoted authors and talented staff on a stellar list of books and journals,” said Devens, “I’m excited and optimistic about the Press’s next chapters.”

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The University of Texas Press serves knowledge seekers in an information-rich world through the publication of books and journals in a wide range of fields. Our work is a focal point where the life experiences, insights, and specialized knowledge of writers converge to be disseminated in both print and digital formats. Established in 1950, UT Press has published more than 3,000 books over six decades.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

My Shadow is My Skin Virtual Panel

In March, the co-editors of the new collection My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora, Katherine Whitney and Leila Emery, joined contributors Dena Rod, Darius Atefat-Peckham, and Siamak Vossoughi, along with the University of Texas Press Publishing Fellow Dr. Laura Fish, for an in-depth conversation. The group discussed how the volume of more than thirty essays came together, how the writers have experienced an evolving and inclusive diaspora, how everyone celebrated Nowruz while in quarantine, and more. Enjoy the video of our Zoom panel discussion here, with a full transcript below.

Transcript of Virtual Panel

Hi, I'm Katherine Whitney, with Leila Emery, co-edited this book: My Shadow is My Skin and I'm really happy to be here with all of you today. And I'm phoning in from Berkeley, California.

Hello, I'm Leila Emery and I'm co-editor of My Shadow is My Skin with Katherine. It started in 2015 and it's just such a pleasure to be able to have it out in the world and we're very grateful to our authors and to have the opportunity to do a reading and have a chat.

I'm Laura Fish, I'm a, I'm the publishing fellow at the University of Texas Press, and I've been doing some of the publicity work for My Shadow is My Skin. And so it's very nice to finally see people in person, or on a screen, put voices and names to faces. And I guess I'll be helping to kind of moderate this discussion throughout.

Hi my name is Dena Rod, my pronouns are they/them/theirs. I'm one of the contributors from My Shadow is My Skin. I wrote an essay in there. I wrote about being queer and Iranian and how those two intersections come together. And I'm also phoning in from Berkeley, California today.

Hi, I'm Darius Atefat-Peckham. I'm also a contributor to My Shadow is My Skin. I'm so excited to be here. I am an essayist and a poet, and I'm a freshman at Harvard University, which is currently happening on Zoom as well, so this is kind of cool. I'm already pretty hip to it. And I'm from Huntington, West Virginia, so I'm in, I'm in West Virginia right now.

I'm Siamak Vossoughi. Also a contributor to My Shadow is My Skin, and I want to say thanks first off to Leila and Katherine. This is the first time I've had a chance to say thank you in close-to-person, together, and also to Bailey and Laura and everyone at UT Press for putting this together. I'm very excited to be a part of the conversation, and I am calling from Seattle.

Laura Fish: Katherine asked if I could share some of the reasons why the University of Texas Press decided to acquire your book and publish it, and hearing from the acquiring editor, because I, I wasn't here at the time—I'm new, but also temporary status—hearing from him, Jim Burr, on the decision to get in touch with you and to acquire My Shadow is My Skin, it kind of seemed like a no-brainer. He had met Persis at the Middle East Studies Association meeting a couple of times, and had talked with her about the possibility of a kind of volume like this, and and then he said that he was able to meet with Katherine and Leila about the various stories that would be presented in the volume. And he was very excited about that. He is always on the lookout for stories of underrepresented groups he's, he's acquired previous texts on the Iranian diaspora, and so when he was given the opportunity to publish a volume of nonfiction creative stories, he jumped at that opportunity especially given the current political landscape. He thought that this was a very important volume to get out and and contend with different notions that are present especially within the American political sphere. And I think that, on a personal note of having read the volume, that the variety of stories that are offered within this volume really speaks to every aspect of American and Iranian life that really does provide the opportunity to challenge a lot of the discriminatory beliefs that are often presented about Iran and Iranians and the Diaspora.

Katherine Whitney: Sure, I think that that's a great summary. I mean that's, that piece of representing underrepresented culture/voices, and also we felt strongly in this volume to include a combination of people, of writers, who were emerging and established because we felt like the more different voices and different perspectives we could get out there the better. Because it's really, what we wanted to emphasize was the not just the human stories but the diversity of stories coming from this population. And Leila and I got a chance to really think about how we were part of this new diaspora, and it's not something that I had ever really thought of myself being part of as an American, you know born in America, but having married into an Iranian family and really taken on the culture, I, I came to understand through this process: the writing workshop that we took together in 2015 and then the putting-together of this book that the diaspora is really, the net is very wide and we wanted to reflect that in the writing as well.

Leila Emery: I agree and I think another really important goal of ours was to try to capture the stories that haven't been told before by the Iranians. I'm thrilled about it, and I think a few of the readings beautifully fall into that category, so we feel very very lucky. 

Fish: So I think from here we were going to have the contributors supply a, about approximately five-minute reading from their stories. So I'm not sure who who would like to go first, maybe Dena?

Dena Rod Reading

Dena Rod: Yeah, let me go ahead. This is an excerpt from my essay called "Pushing the Boundaries." This essay was written in 2015, and so it's about five years now, but I still think is really important piece: 

Coming out is not a singular process. Ever. You can never do it just once, because with heteronormativity, everyone assumes you're straight. Coming out to my mom in 2009 was only the beginning. Since then I have constantly come out about my queerness to strangers on the street, cashiers taking my coffee order when I'm holding my wife's hand, or, before I was married, when I first met people and they assumed the fiancée I spoke of was male. Now, it's always an act of coming out when I say "my wife," and there is no misunderstanding anymore about the differences between girlfriend and fiancée.

This protracted coming out also translates to my extended Iranian family. I remember constantly checking in with my parents about which "aunts" and "uncles" I could be honest with. And, however, they're not actually related to me by blood. When my parents first immigrated to America in the early 1980s, fresh off the heels of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, they each heard about the thriving Persian expat community in Northern California. When they met at a wedding in Oakland in 1986, their individual journeys converged. Settling here in California, they imported a desire to belong to the type of community an Iranian village provided for them back home. These woman and men raised me and looked after me as I grew up, gave me advice when my parents couldn't, and tried to prevent any boys from breaking my heart.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Announcing a New Series—Visualidades: Studies in Latin American Visual History

Visualidades: Studies in Latin American Visual History seeks to further the exploration of visual history as a distinct field of inquiry on Latin America in dialogue with other disciplinary fields. This series conceptualizes visual history as the study of images and the past in the broadest sense and asks how images have shaped Latin American cultures. The series editors invite projects that both ground visual forms of communication in the rich and complex histories through which they took shape and that examine the direct agency of images in crafting historical narratives, stimulating change, and reshaping thought.

Proposals and queries may be sent to the series editors, Ernesto Capello at ecapello@macalester.edu and Jessica Stites Mor at jessica.stites-mor@ubc.ca, and the acquiring editor Kerry Webb: kwebb@utpress.utexas.edu.

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Dr. Jessica Stites Mor is an associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. She is the author of Transition Cinema: Political Filmmaking and the Argentine Left since 1968 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012), editor of Human Rights and Transnational Solidarity in Cold War Latin America (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), and coeditor of The Art of Solidarity: Visual and Performative Politics in Cold War Latin America (University of Texas Press, 2018).

Ernesto Capello is an associate professor of history at Macalester College. He is the author of City at the Center of the World: Space, History, and Modernity in Quito (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).


Friday, April 3, 2020

Announcing a new series: 21st Century Film Essentials

Donna Kornhaber, Series Editor

Cinema has a storied history, but its story is far from over. 21st Century Film Essentials offers a lively chronicle of cinema’s second century, examining the landmark films of our ever-changing moment. Each book makes a case for the importance of a particular contemporary film for artistic, historical, or commercial reasons. The twenty-first century has already been a time of tremendous change in filmmaking the world over, from the rise of digital production and the ascent of the multinational blockbuster to increased vitality in independent filmmaking and the emergence of new voices and talents both on screen and off. The films examined here are the ones that embody and exemplify these changes, crystallizing emerging trends or pointing in new directions. At the same time, they are films that are informed by and help refigure the cinematic legacy of the previous century, showing how film’s past is constantly reimagined and rewritten by its present. These are films both familiar and obscure, foreign and domestic; they are new but of lasting value. This series is a study of film history in the making. It is meant to provide a different kind of approach to cinema’s story--one written in the present tense.

Forthcoming Books

  • The LEGO Movie by Dana Polan (Fall 2020)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Patrick Keating (Spring 2021)
  • The Florida Project by J.J. Murphy (Fall 2021)
  • Black Panther by Scott Bukatman (Spring 2022)

About The LEGO Movie by Dana Polan

What happens when we set out to understand LEGO not just as a physical object but as an idea, an icon of modernity, an image—maybe even a moving image? To what extent can the LEGO brick fit into the multimedia landscape of popular culture, especially film culture, today? Launching from these questions, Dana Polan traces LEGO from thing to film and asserts that The LEGO Movie is an exemplar of key directions in mainstream cinema, combining the visceral impact of effects and spectacle with ironic self-awareness and savvy critique of mass culture as it reaches for new heights of creativity.

Incorporating insights from conversations with producer Dan Lin and writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Polan examines the production and reception of The LEGO Movie and closely analyzes the film within popular culture at large and in relation to LEGO as a toy and commodity. He identifies the film’s particular stylistic and narrative qualities, its grasp of and response to the culture industry, and what makes it a distinctive work of animation among the seeming omnipresence of animation in Hollywood, and reveals why the blockbuster film, in all its silliness and seriousness, stands apart as a divergent cultural work.

Dana Polan is a professor of cinema studies in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and former president of the Society for Cinema Studies. He is the author of eight books in film and media studies, including The Sopranos and Pulp Fiction, and approximately two hundred essays and reviews.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Chat on the phone with Go-Go's bassist Kathy Valentine!

Want to chat on the phone with a member of The Go-Go’s? Kathy Valentine will be making phone calls to readers who purchase a copy of her book All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir!

Here’s how to get a call:

  • Order a copy of All I Ever Wanted by Kathy Valentine from your local bookseller.
  • Post proof of purchase on social media, tagging @UTexasPress with the hashtag #ChatWithKathy.
  • Submit your information on bit.ly/AllIEverWantedTour
Share your book and submit your phone number through Monday, April 6!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Q&A with Cynthia Orozco about Mexican American Civil Rights Activist Adela Sloss-Vento

The essayist Adela Sloss-Vento (1901–1998) was a powerhouse of activism in South Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley throughout the Mexican American civil rights movement beginning in 1920 and the subsequent Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s. At last
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presenting the full story of Sloss-Vento’s achievements, Agent of Change revives a forgotten history of a major female Latina leader. 

Cynthia E. Orozco's Agent of Change: Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist is the first comprehensive biography of a formidable civil rights activist and feminist whose grassroots organizing in Texas made her an influential voice in the fight for equal rights for Mexican Americans.

Give us the elevator pitch for your research and the resulting book.

Adela Sloss-Vento was one of the most important Latina civil rights activists of the twentieth century. Her life spanned the rise of the Mexican American civil rights movement before 1960 and the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She operated independently in predominantly male environments: civil rights activism; politics; and, as an essayist, public-affairs journalism. Even though she lacked a college education, lived in rural South Texas, was married with two children, and worked as a jail matron, she left an unprecedented array of writings in English and Spanish. She even wrote the presidents of the United States and Mexico offering advice. She was unique.

How did you get interested in the subject of your book?

I met Adela Sloss-Vento in 1978, when she was seventy-five and I was college sophomore conducting research on the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest and most important Latino civil rights organization in the nation. She had written a book on Alonso Perales, its founder and her co-activist. Sloss-Vento helped me by sharing her archives, which dated back to 1927. At the time, she did not mention the central role she herself had played in the Mexican American civil rights movement and even the Chicano movement. Thirty-three years later, I saw some of her writings in the Perales archive and realized how important she had been.

What lessons can activists learn from Adela Sloss-Vento’s work in grassroots organizing in Texas?

While Sloss-Vento’s efforts toward racial desegregation, women’s rights, labor justice, and immigrant rights did not result in any change in state or federal legislation, she provided a voice for all these interests during the era of Jim Crow/Juan Crow and before the feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. With every op-ed, letter to the editor, or letter to an official, she made a political statement—a statement few other Mexican American women were making. Her tenacity is most impressive.

How did Sloss-Vento advance her progressive views rhetorically and how was her voice unique and impactful?

Sloss-Vento never studied government, social sciences, or literature at a university; as a public intellectual, she appealed to morality and Christianity. She believed in democracy and justice, even criticizing European fascism during World War II and calling for true pan-Americanism for Latinos and Latin America.

In what ways did some of the long-forgotten archives you consulted in your research challenge outdated scholarly trends?

There is not enough research on “organic” public intellectuals, those who never received college degrees. Before the internet, to be a public intellectual activist meant really having something valuable to say and saying it repeatedly. Sloss-Vento reminds us that sometimes we are surprised by those whom society und
erestimates—in this case, Mexican American women.

Cynthia E. Orozco is a professor of history and humanities at Eastern New Mexico University, Ruidoso. She is the author of No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement and coeditor of Mexican Americans in Texas History.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Decade's Bestselling Books

The University of Texas Press ended the previous decade (2001–2009) with a Texas barbecue book topping our trade list and a study of the Mexican American civil rights
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movement topping our scholarly list. In 2009, Wyatt McSpadden's Texas BBQ showed the photographer's odyssey into the world of traditional barbecue. The book sold so well that we asked Wyatt to expand on it to reflect the changing landscape of barbecue in Texas. Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown was published in August 2018 and captures the new urban BBQ scene, epitomized by Franklin Barbecue, as well as small-town favorites such as Snow’s in Lexington.

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The end of the last decade also featured a wonderful work in Latinx history: Cynthia E. Orozco's No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. The first fully comprehensive study of the origins of the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) and its precursors, it shows how the organization incorporated race, class, gender, and citizenship to create bold new understandings of a pivotal period of activism. Ten years later, Cynthia E. Orozco's newest book, Agent of Change: Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist, is publishing January 10, 2020.

To close the current decade, we have gathered the best-selling trade and scholarly titles from the last ten years below. Here's to the next decade of excellent reading and research!

The Decade's Bestselling Books


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With words by Charles Bowden and artwork by Alice Leora Briggs, Dreamland: The Way Out of Juárez is a striking work of graphic journalism that pairs previously unpublished creative nonfiction by Charles Bowden with provocative scratchboard drawings by Alice Leora Briggs to create a vignette of daily life in Juárez, Mexico. Winner of the Border Regional Library Association's Southwest Book Award, Dreamland has the feel of a graphic novel, the look of an illuminated medieval manuscript, and the harshness of a police blotter. Bowden and Briggs capture the routine brutality, resilient courage, and rapacious daily commerce along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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In 2010, the regularly updated Educator's Guide to Texas School Law had sold more than 70,000 copies and the new seventh edition was the standard legal resource for Texas educators. Attorneys and educators Jim Walsh, Frank Kemerer, and Laurie Maniotis streamline the law and provide the authoritative source on all major dimensions of Texas school law, one that is both well integrated and easy to read. Now in its ninth edition, The Educator's Guide to Texas School Law  has sold nearly 95,000 copies since the first edition was published in 1986. In 2018, much had changed in the area of school law since the first edition. The ninth edition covers all major dimensions of Texas school law through the 2017 legislative session.


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Photographer Michael O’Brien's Hard Ground reveals our common humanity by depicting the men, women, and children who survive on the streets. O'Brien got out of his car one day in 1975 and sought the acquaintance of a man named John Madden who lived under an overpass. Their initial contact grew into a friendship that O'Brien chronicled for the Miami News, where he began his career as a staff photographer. O'Brien's photo-essays conveyed empathy for the homeless and the disenfranchised and won two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. In Hard Ground, O'Brien joins with renowned singer-songwriter Tom Waits, described by the New York Times as "the poet of outcasts," to create a portrait of homelessness that impels us to look into the eyes of people who live "on the hard ground."
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Drawing on a wealth of oral histories from pioneering Chicana activists, as well as the vibrant print culture through which they articulated their agenda and built community, Maylei Blackwell's ¡Chicana Power! Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement presents the first full-scale investigation of the social and political factors that led to the development of Chicana feminism. Maylei Blackwell also co-edited a newer volume, Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era, alongside Dionne Espinoza and María Eugenia Cotera. This groundbreaking anthology brings together generations of Chicana scholars and activists to offer the first wide-ranging account of women’s organizing, activism, and leadership in the Chicano Movement.


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The award-winning biography of Ann Richards by Jan Reid offers a nuanced, fully realized portrait of the first feminist elected to high office in America and one of the most fascinating women in our political history. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with Ann Richards’s friends and associates and her private correspondence, Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards won the following distinctions: the Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize, and the Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women from the Texas State Historical Association.
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The first book in our series The Katrina Bookshelf, Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora, edited by Lynn Weber and Lori Peek, reached readers with a moving ethnographic account of Hurricane Katrina survivors rebuilding their lives away from the Gulf Coast. 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. Supported by the Ford, Gates, MacArthur, Rockefeller, and Russell Sage Foundations and sponsored by the Social Science Research Council, the Katrina Bookshelf is the most comprehensive social science coverage of a disaster to be found anywhere in the literature.


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Former president George W. Bush temporarily brought down our website in 2013 after sharing his Chief White House Photographer Eric Draper's book Front Row Seat on his Facebook page. Our website had never before had so many visitors at one time! An extraordinary collection of images, many never before published, Front Row Seat presents a compelling, behind-the-scenes view of the entire presidency of George W. Bush, from dramatic events such as 9/11 to relaxed, intimate moments within the Bush family.
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Another book with roots in Texas politics to make a splash in 2013 was historian James L. Haley's The Texas Supreme Court: A Narrative History, 1836–1986. Haley, the award-winning author of Sam Houston, Passionate Nation, and Wolf: The Lives of Jack London, offers a lively narrative of Texas’s highest court and how it helped to shape the Lone Star State during its first 150 years. H. W. Brands, whose history haikus will be published in 2020, called The Texas Supreme Court “important and entertaining—a potent combination!”


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In 2014, the Ransom Center featured their Gone With The Wind holdings from the David O. Selznick archive in a major exhibition to celebrate the film's seventy-fifth anniversary. In the book The Making of Gone With The Wind, Steve Wilson collects more than 600 rarely seen items from the David O. Selznick archive—including on-set photographs, storyboards, correspondence and fan mail, production records, audition footage, restored costumes, and Selznick’s infamous memos. The volume offers fans and film historians alike a must-have behind-the-camera view of the production of this classic movie.

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Another book that draws on classic Hollywood is Judith E. Smith's Becoming Belafonte: Black Artist, Public Radical. Spotlighting a vibrant episode in the evolution of African American culture and consciousness in America, this book illuminates how multitalented performer Harry Belafonte became a civil rights icon, internationalist, and proponent of black pride and power. From his first national successes as a singer of Calypso-inflected songs to the dedication he brought to producing challenging material on television and film regardless of its commercial potential, Harry Belafonte stands as a singular figure in American cultural history—a performer who never shied away from the dangerous crossroads where art and politics meet.


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In 2015, we published Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by musician and author Kristin Hersh, founding member of the bands Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave. A haunting ode to a lost friend, this memoir by the acclaimed author of Rat Girl offers the most personal, empathetic look at the creative genius and often-tormented life of singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt that is ever likely to be written. NPR's Michael Schaub called the book "not only one of the best books of the year, [but] one of the most beautiful rock memoirs ever written.”

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An important work focused on our hometown of Austin, Texas, was published in 2015, Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City, edited by Javier Auyero with an afterword by Loïc Wacquant. In Invisible in Austin, the award-winning sociologist Auyero and a team of graduate students explore the lives of those working at the bottom of the social order: house cleaners, office-machine repairers, cab drivers, restaurant cooks and dishwashers, exotic dancers, musicians, and roofers, among others. Recounting their subjects’ life stories with empathy and sociological insight, the authors show us how these lives are driven by a complex mix of individual and social forces.


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With authentic recipes, behind-the-scenes stories, and recommendations of where the locals eat, The Tacos of Texas is the indispensable guide to Texas’s appetizingly diverse tacos and taco culture by the authors of Austin Breakfast Tacos. Now full-fledged television stars, Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece have two series under their belts: United Tacos of America on the El Rey Network and PBS's Tacos of Texas docuseries!
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The award-winning Another Year Finds Me in Texas: The Civil War Diary of Lucy Pier Stevens, from Vicki Adams Tongate, is one of few women’s diaries from Civil War–era Texas and the only one written by a Northerner. This previously unpublished journal offers a unique perspective on daily life and the ties that transcended sectional loyalties during America’s most divisive conflict. Another Year Finds Me in Texas received a Publication Award from the San Antonio Conservation Society.


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Created across thirteen years, forty-eight states, and eighty thousand miles, photographer Jack Spencer's This Land: An American Portrait is a startlingly fresh photographic portrait of the American landscape that shares artistic affinities with the works of such American masters as Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Mark Rothko, and Albert Bierstadt. Jarred by the 9/11 attacks, Spencer set out in 2003 “in hopes of making a few ‘sketches’ of America in order to gain some clarity on what it meant to be living in this nation at this moment in time.” The result is a vast, encompassing portrait of the American landscape that is both contemporary and timeless.
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Frank Denius was not yet twenty-one when he fought his way across Europe and was awarded four Silver Stars, a Presidential Unit Citation, and two Purple Hearts. His autobiography On the Way: My Life and Times describes Denius’s formative experiences during World War II in gripping detail and will cause any reader to wonder how he or she might have held up under similar pressure.


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A New York Times Editor's Choice, The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand, by award-winning author Geoff Dyer, features one hundred essays about one hundred photographs, including previously unpublished color work, by renowned street photographer Garry Winogrand.

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Expansively researched and illustrated, Adam Arenson's lively history Banking on Beauty recounts how the extraordinary partnership of financier Howard Ahmanson and artist Millard Sheets produced outstanding mid-century modern architecture and art for Home Savings and Loan.


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And finally, the year we are bidding adieu to is 2019, which brought the absolute treasure of Hanif Abdurraqib's Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest. Hanif's third book rose as high as #8 on the New York Times bestseller list, earning some of the most gorgeous book reviews we've ever read. The book was named A Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Buzzfeed, Nylon, the A.V. Club, CBC Books, and the Rumpus, and was chosen as Winter's Most Anticipated Book by Vanity Fair and The WeekGo Ahead in the Rain received starred reviews in Kirkus and Booklist and was called "warm, immediate and intensely personal" by the New York Times.

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The late Norman D. Brown's Biscuits, the Dole, and Nodding Donkeys: Texas Politics, 1929–1932, edited and with an introduction by Rachel Ozanne, is a deeply researched sequel to Hood, Bonnet, and Little Brown Jug, published in 1984. In Biscuits, the Dole, and Nodding Donkeys, a master storyteller of Texas politics brings to life pivotal moments of backroom wrangling, economic crashes, and aftershocks still felt nearly a century later. Taking readers to an era when a self-serving group of Texas politicians operated in a system that was closed to anyone outside of the state’s white, wealthy upper echelons, Brown unearths riveting, little-known stories whose impacts continue to ripple today at the Capitol.