Monday, May 13, 2019

Our Fall | Winter 2019 Catalog is Here!

Browse our forthcoming books in our latest seasonal catalog, featuring Stephen Harrigan's Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas, Asher Price's Earl Campbell: Yards after Contact, María Hesse and Fran Ruiz's Bowie: An Illustrated Life, translated by Ned Sublette, and more! Flip through the catalog below, or download the PDF here.

All forthcoming books can be pre-ordered here on our website! Apply the discount code S19SALE during checkout at to receive 40% off and free shipping through May 31, 2019.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Q&A with Xóchitl Bada and Shannon Gleeson on Migrant Rights

Immigration policy, enforcement, and reform has dominated national discourse in the United States for many years. Vital research on trends, institutions, and policies that could be most impactful in this national discourse are often underrepresented or deliberately obfuscated for political reasons.

Scholars Xóchitl Bada and Shannon Gleeson have brought together a timely, transnational
More info
examination of the institutions in Mexico, Canada, and the United States that engage migrant populations in becoming agents of change for immigrant rights while holding government authorities accountable in the new book Accountability Across Borders: 
Migrant Rights in North America.

Collecting the diverse perspectives of scholars, labor organizers, and human-rights advocates, 
Accountability Across Borders is the first edited collection that connects studies of immigrant integration in host countries to accounts of transnational migrant advocacy efforts, including case studies from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

We asked Professors Xóchitl Bada and Shannon Gleeson to answer a few questions about their research and how their findings can inform both policy makers and rights activists.

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

In the last thirty years, immigrant advocacy organizations have demanded protections in various arenas, including employment, health, and education. They have used a variety of strategies that transcend the container of the nation-state as they work to hold local, national, and global bureaucracies accountable to the needs of migrant populations. But we do not yet well understand the relationship between these organizations and the countries of origin and destination whose systems of governance they are lobbying for change.

In our ongoing collaboration, we seek to analyze the advocacy practices of transnational civil society organizations so as to advance and implement protections afforded to migrants in North America. We argue that these practices are not uniform; rather, they are constituted at different scales, ranging from the local to national and the transnational. Advocacy organizations also pursue various cross-border strategies to build power beyond sovereign states. This volume examines the perspectives of a range of actors, including national and binantional bureaucracies, local consular offices, educational institutions, and a variety of civil society groups.

Taking Canada, Mexico, the United States as entry points, this edited collection includes several case studies addressing efforts to ensure Mexican migrants’ basic rights and their access to the protections those rights should afford. The contributors analyze the multiple mechanisms for accountability from governments of the countries of origin and countries of destination, in both domestic and international legislative frameworks. The chapters discuss a range of institutional arenas where migrant rights matter, such as global governance, labor rights, health-care access, schooling for indigenous migrants, and returned and undocumented immigrant youth.

How do you define migrant civil society?

We use “migrant civil society” to refer to migrant-led membership organizations and public institutions. These can include membership organizations, nongovernmental organizations, media, and other autonomous groups. Migrants organize around a variety of often overlapping identities, as workers, say, or as members of a neighborhood, a village of origin, an ethnicity, or a religion. These multiple identities and allegiances can in turn fuel civic and political leadership. In other words, the notion of a migrant civil society refers to the capacity of migrants to represent themselves rather than having advocates speak on their behalf, although they may collaborate with allies as well.

How did first the Obama administration and then the Trump administration alter the course of your research and writing?

Our efforts to bring together a group of North American scholars interested in migrant rights and accountability began in the spring of 2016, close to the beginning of Donald Trump´s presidential campaign. We had received generous funding from the Cornell University ILR School’s Pierce Memorial Fund to organize a workshop on transnational migrant advocacy, and by the time we met in December, it became clear that our work was not only relevant but urgent. By mid-December of 2016, we had secured an invitation to submit our edited collection to the UT Press, and we encouraged our collaborators to engage with current immigration policy changes as much as possible. Of course, the constant evolution of this policy field always presents immigration scholars with challenges in their research and writing. On the one hand, the current president has undoubtedly produced an unprecedented number of executive actions on immigration that make it difficult to produce up-to-date research and analysis. On the other, many of the policies that threaten immigrant communities have a deep foundation in previous Republican and Democratic administrations. So there is a continuity in many of our core themes.

Your book focuses on three areas of migration governance: education, labor, and health. Can you broadly cover your findings in these respective areas?

It is always difficult to tackle several institutional arenas of migrant rights at once, especially in more than one country. But we attempt to do so here with a focus on education, labor, and health across Mexico, Canada, and the United States.

Undocumented immigrants and returned migrants have demanded increased support for and investment in education from their countries of origin. Accordingly, Alexandra Délano discusses the new roles that Mexican consulates in the United States have played in securing rights for Mexican migrants and facilitating US protections. For example, Mexican consulates have helped facilitate the application process for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, which opens important educational and professional opportunities. With respect to Canada, Patricia Landolt and Luin Goldring consider the importance of grassroots activists in demanding educational access for all students in Toronto, regardless of immigration status. And regarding Mexico, Mónica Jacobo finds that returned and deported Mexican youth have organized to eliminate the highly expensive and bureaucratic procedure to validate their US education and gain access to Mexico’s higher education institutions.

In a moment of significant discussions about the future of NAFTA, we find that migrant labor-rights protections may at long last be meaningfully addressed in regional trade negotiations thanks to the dedicated efforts over the past two decades by labor unions and transnational labor-advocacy organizations. While the portability of migrant labor-rights protection is far from being fully implemented in the region, the chapters by Bada and Gleeson and by Gálvez, Godoy, and Meinema find that civil society has taken an increasingly visible role in demanding accountability from public officials for guestworkers in bilateral agreements, trade negotiations, and labor enforcement initiatives.

Access to health care remains one of the most difficult challenges for migrants in the United States. The Affordable Care Act enacted during the Obama administration prohibited undocumented immigrants from acquiring federally subsidized health insurance in the newly created health markets. This kept migrants in an already overburdened system served primarily by local community health centers. The chapter by Osorio, Dávila, and Castañeda offers the first historical overview of the Binational Health Week, sponsored by Mexico´s Ministry of Health, which provides access to free preventive care for underinsured migrants. The program has existed for more than a decade and is now replicated by a dozen Latin American consulates across the United States.

How can your research contextualize immigration-based fear and racism in the United States?

Migrants workers are disproportionally represented in precarious work and face significant structural vulnerabilities, violence, and human- and labor-rights violations during their transit, settlement, and return in countries of origin, transit, and destination.

Yet for over three decades, the federal government has failed to reach a bipartisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform. As a result, state and local governments in the United States have had to take up the slack, playing a substantial role on issues ranging from enforcement to benefits and services. In 2017 alone, states enacted 206 laws on all sides of issues ranging from so-called sanctuary policies to refugee resettlement, education/civics, and in-state tuition.

In this context, immigrant civil society plays a significant role in enacting and implementing local immigrant policies. Our research documents how migrant civil society organizations engage civic and political institutions in countries of origin and destination to demand better enforcement and implementation of Mexican migrant rights across borders. These groups also serve as cultural brokers that help immigrants navigate local bureaucracies and help advocate for the rights of migrants in—sometimes welcoming, sometimes hostile—destination communities.

Can you highlight major gaps or inconsistencies in immigration policy and enforcement that your findings reveal?

In the United States, Mexican migrants make up nearly a third of all immigrants and more than half of the undocumented population, estimated at 11 million. Even so, “lawfully present” Mexican immigrants vastly outnumber the undocumented. In fact, the estimate of Mexican migrants living in the United States without authorization declined from 6.9 million in 2007 to 5.8 million in 2014. Many undocumented immigrants have resided in the United States for more than a decade; the typical unauthorized immigrant has lived there for a median of fifteen years. A variety of factors have led to this decline, including Mexico’s changing demography and decreasing fertility rates, improved conditions in Mexico’s labor market, higher levels of education, dramatic increases in the costs of crossing the border, the Great Recession of 2007, and decreasing family remittances that could finance new border crossings. However, family remittances to Mexico were at historic new highs between 2016 and 2018, possibly because of President Trump’s anti-immigrant measures and his threat to tax family remittances.

Nevertheless, Mexican migrants have been a major target for immigration enforcement actions under Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and even more systematically and brazenly under the Trump administration. More migrants from Mexico were deported in fiscal year 2018 than from any other country: 141,045 of 252,405 removals (56%), not including voluntary returns. President Trump even declared a national emergency at the border by falsely claiming that the Democratic Party is leading an assault on the United States by inciting large flows of people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to cross Mexico and continue to the United States. Although total apprehensions at the southern border by Customs and Border Protection (CPB) reached 521,090 in fiscal year 2018, CBP had apprehended a total of 569,237 people in 2014, during the Obama administration. In fact, the United States has for decades increased border militarization in an attempt to stem the northward flow that began before US borders were even drawn. The Trump administration’s current policy of separating families in detention is a further manifestation of this state violence, given that there are literally now thousands of children lost as a consequence to this punitive measure, which many international scholars agree is a violation of human rights. Conversely, the children held in detention have also reported a range of abuses, including sexual assault, an alarming reality for which the administration has yet to be held accountable.

Restrictive immigration policies and harshly punitive deportation measures have been accompanied by ill-informed public perceptions about what contributions migrants make. Mexican migrants embody a narrative about Latino migrants in the United States that is at once contradictory and reductive. They are frequently held up to be hard-working people, a criminal threat, a drain on the welfare state, a cultural stain on democracy, and resistant to assimilation. These perceptions are further fueled by Trump’s racist rhetoric, coupled with a series of repressive measures that include a vast expansion of the groups prioritized for deportation, arrests of subjects at places previously considered safe, a plan to hire 15,000 more immigration agents, a broad ban on refugees and even on basic travel for migrants from several majority-Muslim countries, and the creation of a Victims of Immigrant Crime Enforcement Office.

The United States is facing these difficult conversations around immigration while simultaneously grappling with declining fertility rates and population decline. By 1980, eighteen of the twenty-five most populous cities in 1950 had lost residents. Of the twenty-five largest cities in 1980s, seventeen gained residents over the subsequent thirty years, largely because of a rapid increase in the Latino population. Of the twenty-five largest US cities, twelve have populations that are more than one-quarter Hispanic; Latinos make up over one-third the population in eight of those, and they constitute the majority in two. In other words, Latinos, and especially Mexicans, are a part of the fabric of US society. The continued inaction on immigration reform and the absence of inclusive local policies toward immigrants is therefore of serious consequence.

Could you establish an approach to your book for both policy makers and rights activists? How can readers best utilize the research-based tools for improvement that you present?

Our book offers a multidisciplinary institutional analysis of migrant rights through a cross-sectoral, multisited, and multiscalar lens. We highlight the cross-border relations between government actors and civil society, across a variety of policy arenas, including global labor regulation, public education, health care, and criminal justice. Given our limited regional focus, we have knowingly overlooked several sectors and binational relations, such as sustainable trade and rural development, environmental justice, development and violence-induced internal displacement, and voting-rights coalitions. To fill this gap, policy makers, scholars, and migrant rights activists should pay more attention to variations across specific policy arenas at local, state or provincial, federal, and transnational scales.

For example, the experiences of traditional destination countries like the United States and Canada are not likely to mirror those of other destinations that lack the same bureaucratic capacity for immigration enforcement and migrant integration, such as Mexico. The Mexican government’s failure to offer immediate access to public education (a result of byzantine bureaucratic obstacles) to thousands of Mexican American children caught in the US deportation regime illustrates the urgent need to interrogate such policies affecting returned migrants. Conversely, the Mexican government’s unwillingness to offer even minimal access to basic health care and other resources to thousands of Central Americans waiting their turn in temporary shelters to request asylum to the United States on the Mexican side of the border is equally shameful. It is unclear whether states closer to the border have fared any better than those in central and southern Mexico.

We also know surprisingly little about the educational outcomes of US-born Mexican American children who return to Mexico and continue their education in public schools that have no programs dedicated to integrating students whose first language is English or other nonindigenous languages. Studying these and other outcomes will become increasingly important under Trump-era immigration enforcement policies in the United States.

President Trump’s anti-immigrant rethoric and policies have already stranded thousands of migrants in Mexican border states. These groups may hold out hope for a new administration in 2020 that is more sympathethic to those fleeing criminal violence from state and nonstate actors alike. Thus far, Mexico has only begrudgingly accepted its new role as a transit country and has agreed to receive Central Americans while they wait their turn to request asylum.

However, those immigrants may decide to stay in Mexico, taking advantage of the positive rethoric of a recently inaugurated center-left government. Mexico, a country with a foreign-born population of 1.2 million (0.99% of the total population)—the vast majority coming from the United States (899,311)—will likely be forced to incorporate a large group of Central Americans with little precedent for doing so on a large scale. While Trump’s famous campaign promise of a border wall is only partially funded 2.5 years into his presidency, his declaration of a national emergency already faces multiple lawsuits in several state courts. Further, the xenophobia and racism coming out of the White House and targeted at Latinos and immigrants fuel anxiety and amplify uncertainty among migrants and would-be migrants alike.

Our volume admittedly focuses on primarily positive examples of collaboration. Further work should continue to examine more contested efforts to enforce rights across borders, especially in varied federalist contexts such as Canada, where provinces have more control over certain policies—such as collective bargaining—that impact migrants. Moving forward, we will continue to examine consular advocacy on behalf of migrant worker rights across traditional and new migrant destinations in the United States. Our findings also lay the groundwork for future research in other areas of policymaking (beyond immigration) that implicate state-society collaborations and contestations.

Xóchitl Bada is an associate professor of Latin American and Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Mexican Hometown Associations in Chicagoacán: From Local to Transnational Civic Engagement and a coeditor of two forthcoming works: New Migration Patterns in the Americas: Challenges for the 21st Century and Handbook of Latin American Sociology.

Shannon Gleeson is an associate professor of labor relations, law, and history at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She is the author of Precarious Claims: The Promise and Failure of Workplace Protections in the United States and Conflicting Commitments: The Politics of Enforcing Immigrant Worker Rights in San Jose and Houston. She also coedited Building Citizenship from Below: Precarity, Migration, and Agency and The Nation and Its Peoples: Citizens, Denizens, Migrants.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Announcing a New Series—Latinx: The Future is Now

Latinx: The Future Is Now is a new interdisciplinary series devoted to the evolving field of Latina/o/x studies, including Central American, Afro-Latinx, and Asian-Latinx studies. Situated at the nexus of cultural, performance, historical, food, environmental, and textual studies, the series will focus on ways in which the racial, cultural, and social formations of historical Latinx communities can engage and enhance scholarship across geographies and nationalities. The series editors invite projects that consider the multiple queer and gender-fluid possibilities that are embodied in the “x”; projects that have a feminist critique of patriarchy at the center of their intellectual work; projects that deploy a relational approach to ethnic and national groups; and projects that address the overlapping dynamics of gender, race, sexual, and national identities.

Submissions or queries may be directed to the series editors, Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, and Lorgia Garcia-Peña, in addition to Senior Acquisitions Editor, Kerry Webb,

Forthcoming books in the series will be listed here as they are published:

# # #

Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández is Associate Professor of American Studies and Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. She is an expert in Borderlands History after 1846, Transnational Feminist Methodologies, Latinx Studies, and Popular Culture and Immigration. As a public intellectual, Dr. Guidotti-Hernández has written numerous articles for the feminist magazine Ms. and the feminist blog The Feminist Wire, covering such topics as immigration, reproductive rights, and the Dream act. She also sits on the national advisory council for the Ms. and is currently on the national advisory council for Freedom University in Athens, Georgia.

Dr. Lorgia Garcia-Peña i
s the Roy G. Clouse Associate Professor of Latinx Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of  award-winning book The Borders of Dominicanidad and the co-founder of Freedom University Georgia, a modern-day freedom school created to support undocumented students.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Q&A with Jan Baetens about the Forgotten Art of Film Photonovels

More info
Jan Baetens' book The Film Photonovel: A Cultural History of Forgotten Adaptations is the first study devoted to the hybrid genre of the film photonovel. Baetens applies a comparative textual media framework to a previously overlooked aspect of the history of film and literary adaptation.

Discarded by archivists and disregarded by scholars despite its cultural impact on post–World War II Europe, the film photonovel represents a unique crossroads. This hybrid medium presented popular films in a magazine format that joined film stills or set pictures with captions and dialogue balloons to re-create a cinematic story, producing a tremendously popular blend of cinema and text that supported more than two dozen weekly or monthly publications.

Watch the author speak about his work in the book trailer video below, and dig deeper into his personal collection of this forgotten medium in this Q&A.

Could you give us the elevator pitch of your book? 

I have worked largely in the field of adaptation studies as applied to cinema, and I have always defended the idea that film is both a screen- and a print-based medium. Film circulates via all kind of printed formats and related products, and historically speaking, the film photonovel was probably the most intriguing of these print adaptations—most intriguing but, paradoxically, also the most forgotten, for the film photonovel, which was immensely popular in the late 1950s, has fallen into complete oblivion, mainly though the lack of any archive (film photonovels were not kept in university libraries, and the private archives have nearly all disappeared). My book I draws on research based on my private collection of film photonovel magazines—I currently have some 1,400 items—and aims at reconstructing the history of the film photonovel not just as a particular genre, but also as a social medium, that is, a social practice and everything that accompanies it. By doing so, I try to rewrite the history of cinema itself, for the film photonovel is a wonderful tool for showing how films were received and appropriated by popular audiences.

How do you define the film photonovel?

The photonovel is essentially a form of graphic narrative in magazine format, one very popular in pretelevision Europe, that combines sequentially organized photographs, generally six per page, and speech balloons as well as captions to tell a story—a romance in the case of the photonovel and the story line of a film in the case of the film photonovel. Film photonovels are thus a special type of novelization, a type that relies on two major features, both inspired by the photonovel model: first, the priority given to images (at the expense of the text); second, the attempt to reframe all adapted movies, whatever their genre or specific tone, as melodramas, the typical genre of the photonovel. The result is often stunning, for even if a film photonovel does not present “new” images, the selection and layout, the narrative reframing of the stories, and the invented narrative voice in the captions all serve to re-create the adapted movie in surprising and visually very attractive ways.

Why was the photonovel deemed “lowbrow”?

Four elements play a key role in the film photonovel’s cultural disrepute: first, the influence of its model, the photonovel, which was discarded as a kind of silly romance comics with pictures; second, the fact that film photonovels were published only in magazine format, never in book form; third, the association with the world of tearjerkers—in the woman-unfriendly 1950s, certainly not the best way to acquire cultural capital; fourth, the belief that film photonovels adapted only commercial movies, never art-house movies. The rebuilding of the film photonovel archive, however, allows for a completely different reading of the material and the cultural biases that have tended to blind us to its very existence. Today we know that photonovels have a very wide range, that film photonovels sometimes exceed the limits of ephemeral magazine publication, that gendered readings have to be corrected, and that art-house cinema is as well represented in the corpus as is any other type of cinema.

How does your research push the boundaries of adaptation studies?

First, my research discloses a form of adaptation that has been completely ignored, lacking not only prestige but also visibility: no archives, no direct or indirect references, no visual traces. The progressive rediscovery of this material generates a kind of Pompeii experience, for things whose very existence had been ignored suddenly become visible. Moreover, we can now better understand the film photonovel’s importance as a social phenomenon: along with going to the movies (and sometimes instead of doing so!), people read film photonovels, and their ideas on cinema were strongly influenced by their reading. Second, the film photonovel is also an important case in the debate on film adaptation. Adaptation is often seen as a one-way street, going only from book to film. Here and in my previous book on novelization, which has also contributed to this paradigm shift, we can see that this is just half the story and that adaptation does not stop once a book has been turned into a movie. Movies are ceaselessly remade in print format, and the film photonovel is without any doubt the most challenging form of these adaptations (which may also include comics, novels, posters, the “making of” books, games, etc.). At first sight, film photonovels may appear to be the poorest versions of these adaptations, since they cannot produce new images. At second sight, however, the obligation to rely exclusively on existing pictures forces the genre to be extremely inventive, as the many examples and images in the book clearly show.

How did photonovels cross borders and affect audiences in Latin America?

The production of film photonovels started in Italy around 1955 and then moved to France, nut it had also some extensions in other countries, including United Kingdom and, somewhat later, United States. In Latin America, where the photonovel was as popular as in Europe (and where, in certain countries, the medium still thrives), the European models were adapted for and appropriated by local audiences. The publishing world in Argentina was crucial in this regard: many Spanish publishing houses were active there (several companies were created by publishers who had to leave Spain during or after the Spanish Civil War), and European magazines circulated in Argentina as well (even French ones, Argentina being a very Francophile country). Some magazines, such as Secretos. Amiga y confidente de la mujer, published their own film photonovel serializations of European movies, while others, such as Superaventuras, specialized in American blockbusters. All these works were locally produced, in agreement with local distributors, as used to be the case in the film photonovel business in general.

Monday, April 1, 2019

University of Texas Press and University of Toronto Press Merge to Form “Giddy UP”

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2019 

Following months of idle speculation within academic circles, the University of Texas Press and the University of Toronto Press announced today that they are merging operations, effective immediately. The two university publishers will unite under one banner, “Giddy UP” (#GiddyUP), to build on mostly superficial parallels between the interests of scholars in the most populous city in Canada and their counterparts in the fourth-most populous city in Texas.

The merger was not inspired by shared corporate values, but, rather, the near endless confusion on social media regarding the handle @utpress. The University of Toronto Press 
New logo for Giddy UP
can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn as @UTPRESS. However, readers have often mistaken @UTPRESS for @UTEXASPRESS and have tagged the Canadian institution in reference to the latest Texas publications.

To reduce the minuscule amount of staff time spent dealing with messages from confused customers, leadership at the respective scholarly presses opted to overlook geographic challenges. Both teams are excited to join forces and better serve the people of Texas from the colder climes of Ontario. The University of Texas Press social media presences @UTEXASPRESS will continue to post content, but will pivot to purely cute animals.

The new logo for the combined publishers incorporates Canada’s national sport of hockey with the well-known bovine mascot of the University of Texas at Austin.

The entire staff of the University of Texas Press will take their talents north of the border, leaving their current office space to be converted to a pop-up shop showcasing artisanal popsicles. The University of Toronto Press will expand their office to include a Tim Horton’s/Smokehouse for staff use.

To prepare for the move and requisite immigration red tape, the University of Texas Press staff members are all required watch Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey, Volumes 1-30 and University of Toronto Press staff will all learn how to line dance. Both teams are receiving training in colloquialisms such as how to use “y’all” and “eh” appropriately.



The University of Texas Press and the University of Toronto Press are pleased to announce that their operations will be merging. We have updated our logo to reflect the values of Giddy UP, our new scholarly publishing family! It’s super, eh? #GiddyUP


Important announcement! Y’all, we are merging with the University of Toronto Press under the banner “Giddy UP.” This has absolutely nothing to do with the hottest summers on record, eh? #GiddyUP


We are pleased to unveil our new logo, which reflects the recent decision by our leadership to merge with the University of Toronto Press. (and then the second and third paragraph above)

#hockey #movingtoCanada #movetoCanada #GiddyUP


Bailey Morrison, Digital Media Producer, Giddy UP

Tanya Rohrmoser, Social Media Specialist, Giddy UP


Monday, March 18, 2019

UT Press at the San Antonio Book Festival

On Saturday, April 6, the University of Texas Press and five of our authors will enjoy the 7th annual San Antonio Book Festival at the Central Library (600 Soledad) and Southwest School of Art in beautiful downtown San Antonio. The Festival runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We'll have a booth in the Exhibitor Tent with tons of titles for sale at a great discount. There are a lot of fantastic authors in attendance (Tayari Jones! Elizabeth McCracken! Melissa Febos! Joe R. Lansdale! Lawrence Wright!), so we’ve distilled our authors' appearances into a single UT Press schedule.

Signing at 12:00 PM

Panel Location: Festival Room

Signing location: Southwest School of Art Parking Lot
Sauceda is a photographer, entrepreneur, and author of Y’all: The Definitive Guide to Being a Texan, and most recently, A Mile Above Texas. His aerial photographs of Texas were first published in a photo essay in Texas Monthly.

The Golden Ages of Television with Barbara Morgan & Maya Perez

3:15 PM - 4:00 PM
Signing at 4:15 PM

Location: Festival Room

Signing location: Southwest School of Art Parking Lot
Barbara Morgan Morgan co-founded the Austin Film Festival in 1993 and has served as the sole executive director since 1999. She developed and produces the TV and radio series Austin Film Festival’s On Story, currently airing on PBS stations nationally as well as on Public Radio International. She also coedited the previous volumes of On Story.

Maya Perez Perez is a writer and producer who coedited the previous volumes of On Story. She produces the television series Austin Film Festival’s On Story, currently in its seventh season on PBS, which won a Lone Star EMMY Award® for Best Arts/Entertainment Program in 2014 and was nominated for an EMMY Award® in 2016.

Billy Lee Brammer: Great Texas Writer, Wayward American Son with Tracy Daugherty

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM
Signing at 5:00 PM

Location: West Terrace
Signing location: Southwest School of Art Parking Lot

Daugherty has written biographies of Joan Didion, Joseph Heller, and Donald Barthelme, as well as four novels, six short story collections, a book of personal essays, and a collection of essays on literature and writing. His stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Paris Review online, McSweeney’s, Boulevard, Chelsea, The Georgia Review, Triquarterly, The Southern Review, and many other journals. Daugherty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf, Artsmith, and the Vermont Studio Center. A member of PEN and the Texas Institute of Letters, he is a five-time winner of the Oregon Book Award. At Oregon State University, Daugherty helped found the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing and is now Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing, Emeritus.

Obsessed with Texas with Sarah Bird, David Norman & Mimi Swartz

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Signing at 4:45 PM

Location: West Terrace
Signing Location: Southwest School of Art Parking Lot

Sarah Bird’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. Her latest novel is titled Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, which is the compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos. Her forthcoming nonfiction collection, Recent Studies Indicate: The Best of Sarah Bird, will publish April 2.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Q&A with Professor of Animation History David McGowan

Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Felix the Cat, and other beloved cartoon characters have entertained media audiences for almost a century, outliving the human stars who were once their contemporaries in studio-era Hollywood. In his book,
More info
Animated Personalities: Cartoon Characters and Stardom in American Theatrical Shorts, David McGowan asserts that iconic American theatrical short cartoon characters should be legitimately regarded as stars, equal to their live-action counterparts, not only because they have enjoyed long careers, but also because their star personas have been created and marketed in ways also used for cinematic celebrities.

To celebrate the release of 
Animated Personalities, we asked David McGowan, professor in animation history at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), a few questions about his research.

Could you give us the elevator pitch for your book?

Animated Personalities argues that cartoon characters should be considered legitimate stars, just like human performers. The book covers studio-era protagonists such as Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse and demonstrates how their star personas were regularly created and marketed, just as those for their live-action counterparts were. These characters were regularly shown granting “interviews” in fan magazines or endorsing products in advertisements, extending their “private” existence beyond the cartoons in which they appeared.

While I focus on articulating these personalities during the so-called “golden age” of 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, I also follow them into their later, post-theatrical years. Like many of the human stars of the screen, characters such as Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker transferred to television as studio production began to decline, and their personas had to be adapted to fit this new medium. I also consider the prolonged existence of many of these figuresat the time of writing, Mickey Mouse has recently turned ninety years of age!and how they may continue to function as stars even as they reach the upper limits of human life expectancy.

How do you define “cinematic stardom”?

While a term such as “film star” can be used as a casual descriptor for any famous screen personality, academic concepts of cinematic stardom are well established. The work of Richard Dyer remains central to our understanding of star theory, with his first major publication on the subjectStars (1979)celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

Dyer’s work is extremely valuable in highlighting that the cinematic system operates on a rhetoric of authenticity, aiming to present many of the artificial elements that compose the star’s image as the absolute truth. Authors such as Dyer and Richard deCordova have emphasized the importance of uncovering aspects of the performer’s private life as part of this process. The movies spark our interest in the actor, but we may have to look beyond the screen in order to get the full picture.

Early televisual stardom, by contrast, has often been characterized in terms of immediacy and direct address. The performer’s apparent spontaneity and acknowledgment of the viewer, when compared to the distant, self-enclosed worlds of cinema, seemingly made him or her more accessible to the home audience. This was often a rhetoric of authenticity itselfultimately as artificial and carefully constructed as the big screen equivalentbut we can certainly see that approaches to stardom have changed to suit different mediums, different eras, and different audience tastes.

How does your research push the boundaries of “star theory”?

In its assumption of a live-action subject, star theory has tended to take certain attributes for granted. Dyer’s work, for instance, stresses the indexicality of the star, noting that photographs provide evidence that the actor physically exists (or once existed) on a basic level. The acknowledgment that the star has a separate private life is seen as a further marker of authenticity, bound up with the realization that the performer’s off-screen conduct has the potential to reveal aspects of his or her personality that would not be visible in the films themselves. While I admit that cel-animated cartoon stars do not have actual private lives or physical existence, I argue that a textual simulacrum of these traitsif evoked appropriatelyhas generally proven an acceptable substitute. Many apparent revelations about the private lives of human stars are still subject to manipulation and

fabrication. Indeed, part of the joy of engaging with stardom as a fan is navigating between the boundaries of the real and the artificial. My research indicates many instances in which trade journals, fan magazines, and sometimes even serious newspapers and government officials were happy to play along with the notion that characters such as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny could be treated as stars.

Previous work in academic film studies has tended to overemphasize a separation between live-action media and the cartoon. This is a dangerous approach, I think, and one that has allowed star theory to adopt certain truisms that overlook the importance of animation within the studio system of that time. As I note in the book’s introduction, the cartoon characters I discuss possess a unique proximity to the live-action Hollywood studio stars privileged by authors such as Dyer: not only do they begin to appear on-screen at roughly the same time, but their work is also produced and released by the very same studios, viewed by the same audiences, and written about by the same publications.

Live-action star theory has also tended to focus on features rather than shorts, even though the short-film market of the studio era included a viable star system that is worthy of further exploration. Beyond that, certain human stars fit the current theoretical models better than others do. In some ways, Charlie Chaplin may have more in common with Felix the Cat than with, say, Humphrey Bogart, yet the live-action focus of existing theory tends to automatically accept Chaplin as a star while discounting (or simply ignoring) Felix. I hope, then, that there is an opportunity to broaden our understanding of both live-action and animated stardom by adding cartoon characters into the equation.

You draw a connection to the embodied representation of literary characters like Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, or James Bond from Ian Fleming’s series of novels. Unpack that a little more for us.

Literary characters such as Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, or Fleming’s James Bond, began in printed text and have been realized on-screen in live-action cinema by different actors in different eras. Each new performer arguably brings part of his or her own star image to the character: beyond the inevitable physical differences between Sean Connery and Roger Moore’s incarnations of Bond, there are often performance and personality differences as well. These characters have a shaky existence, subjected to multiple remakes and reboots, as new human casts are brought in to embody them.

By contrast, there has been a tendency to imply that studio-era animated stars have an unbroken existence from their first screen appearances to the present day. The suggestion is that these are cartoon “actors” rather than characters tied to a specific continuity. This understanding is thought to make it easier for us to accept a figure such as Mickey Mouse having a completely different living situation or a brand new job in each subsequent cartoon.

While modern studios have shown a greater tendency to hire celebrity actors to perform as animated protagonistsTom Hanks as Woody from Toy Story, Mike Myers as Shrek, and so onthe earlier generation of cartoon production placed much less emphasis on the voice artists who helped to bring the characters to life. It is extremely important that we now recognize the talents of performers such as Mel Blanc and June Foray, but these duties were often carried out in the service of the animated star first and foremost. The casting of a new voice artist for, say, Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse has tended to be much less disruptive to the character’s ongoing existence than the choice of the latest actor to play Batman or Sherlock Holmes.

The book goes through the studio system up to contemporary representations termed “synthespian” performances, referring to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and other productions. What is the through line for these more modern representations of embodiment using technologies such as CG?

While it was previously easierif not necessarily accurateto make an absolute distinction between the properties of live-action cinema and those of animation, new technologies are increasingly blurring the boundaries between the two. It is now possible for stars to deliver computer-assisted “synthespian” performances in which the character’s (often photorealistic) body image appears significantly different from that of the actor’s real physical appearance. We are also seeing a rise in “posthumous performances,” using CGI to create a new screen appearance from a subject who is no longer aliveeven, in some cases, featuring in roles that were never discussed during his or her lifetime. Such developments complicate the assumptions surrounding photographic indexicality and the role of the private life of the star, which were central in previous generations of star theory.
It is possible that cinematic tastes may swing back toward the physical; the fan debates about the inclusion of the late Carrie Fisher in the upcoming Star WarsEpisode IX, for instance, indicate anxieties about using CGI to evoke dead performers in newly produced works. Nonetheless, we are undoubtedly seeing more examples of performances that place less emphasis on direct embodiment by a star. I conclude the book by suggesting that looking back to the past, and to the approaches used for studio-era animated stars, may help us make sense of a cinematic future in which live-action footage and computer-generated images become ever more closely intertwined.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Two Author-Curated Playlists for Go Ahead in the Rain

Originally posted to Largehearted Boy, these curated playlists by NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR Hanif Abdurraqib—author of Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Questoffer insight behind the music of A Tribe Called Quest, drawing from the music that inspired them and their sampling. Hanif writes:
I felt like it would be easier to pick a handful of Tribe Called Quest songs that I loved. Instead, I wanted to pick songs that showed the sounds Tribe was pulling from, and I wanted to pick songs by artists who committed themselves to building on Tribe's legacy in the years they weren't active. This book is, largely, about lineage and about how music can build pathways of curiosity and knowing. So, it made sense to populate a playlist with the music that Tribe chased after to make their own.



Spin these amazing playlists and don't forget that we are giving away ten copies of Go Ahead in the RainSubscribe to our email list by this Sunday, February 10th at midnight for your chance to win some book love by Valentine's Day!

Book Tour

Catch Hanif Abdurraqib's Go Ahead in the Rain tour this spring and summer!

Praise for the Book


  • New York Times: “[W]arm, immediate, and intensely personal...This lush and generous book is a call to pay proper respects not just to a sound but to a feeling.” 
  • Washington Post: “[R]iveting and poetic…Abdurraqib’s gift is his ability to flip from a wide angel to a zoom with ease. He is a five-tool writer, slipping out of the timeline to deliver vivid, memoiristic splashes as well as letters he's crafted to directly address the central players, dead and living.” 
  • NPR: "Go Ahead in the Rain is at once an extended critical essay, a hip-hop history, and a series of love letters to A Tribe Called Quest, and particularly to the group's two star MCs, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. . . . [Abdurraqib] has a seemingly limitless capacity to share what moves him, which means that to read Go Ahead in the Rain, you don't need to be a Tribe Called Quest fan: Abdurraqib will make you one. His love for the group is infectious, even when it breaks his heart."
  • Mancunion: “Abdurraqib...manages to write about music by making his language a type of music. He pays homage to A Tribe Called Quest in the only way fitting, with flow and charm and emotional rawness.” 


  • Nylon: “In his personalized approach to the group’s musical legacy, Abdurraqib articultes how the group helped to define his personal growth, helping readers appreciate the power that our favorite acts have in helping us create a durable sense of identity.” 
  • Columbus Alive: “Fans of Abdurraqib’s writing will recognize his ability to seamlessly weave together stories about multiple, often disparate topics. Whether he’s reminiscing about his failed attempt to master the trumpet as a child, or geeking out over the history of sampling in hip-hop, or dissecting a 2011 Tribe documentary, each story serves the larger purpose: recounting the life of A Tribe Called Quest through a fan’s eyes.” 
  • Student Life (from Washington University in St. Louis): “Thursday night, as poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib stepped behind the podium to read, the room was overflowing, with people crammed into the aisles and standing practically in the hallway to hear him read pieces that touched on everything from a fight in a New Haven pizza parlor to spades to the criminally overlooked Mary Clayton.” 
  • Pittsburgh City Paper
  • Bookin’ w/ Jason Jefferies Podcast
  • ShutdownFullcast Podcast
  • The Opus Podcast (about Jimi Hendrix). 



  • Lit Hub: “12 Books You Should Read This February”: “…the book promises to be a stunning blend of author and subject.” 
  • Austin360: “Pop Culture Coming in February”: “The outstanding poet pens an ode to one of the greatest groups of all time.” 

Winter Institute Recaps

  • Shelf Awareness: “’I would hope that folks in the back would move up closer,’ [Abdurraqib] said. “You don’t have to sit on the floor, but you can if you want. If we can all make a pledge to get closer to each other…Is that something we can do? If I come down there, can you come up here?’ The open space quickly filled with book—and music—people. As he says, the idea of a sample ‘is to hear the world differently.’” 
  • American Bookseller’s Assocation: “’That’s why books should be written,’ he said. ‘If we’re lucky, we’re building a life for ourselves just by existing and being in proximity with people who we love and care about. We’re building a life that deserves to be echoed into some corners after we’re gone.’” 

Book Trailers