Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mexicans Made America—in So Many Ways. Why Do We Treat Them as Alien Invaders?

By John Tutino 

John Tutino is a professor of history and international affairs in the School of Foreign Service and director of the Americas Initiative at Georgetown University.

Mexicans have contributed to making the United States in pivotal and enduring ways. In 1776, more of the territory of the current United States was under Spanish sovereignty than in the thirteen colonies that rejected British rule. Florida, the Gulf Coast to New Orleans, the Mississippi to St. Louis, and the lands from Texas through New Mexico and California all lived under Spanish rule, creating Hispanic-Mexican legacies. Millions of pesos minted in Mexico City, the American center of global finance, funded the war for U.S. independence,
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leading the new nation to adopt the peso (renamed the dollar) as its currency.

The U.S. repaid the debt by claiming Spanish/Mexican lands: buying vast Louisiana territories (via France) in 1803; gaining Florida by treaty in 1819; sending settlers (many undocumented) into Texas to expand cotton and slavery in the 1820s; enabling Texas secession in 1836; and provoking war in 1846 to incorporate Texas’s cotton and slave economy—and acquiring California’s gold fields, too. The U.S. took in land and peoples long Spanish and recently Mexican, often mixing European, indigenous, and African ancestries. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo recognized those who remained in the U.S. as citizens. And the U.S. incorporated the dynamic mining/grazing/irrigation economy that had marked Spanish North America for centuries and would long define the U.S. west.

Debates over slavery and freedom in lands taken from Mexico led to the U.S. Civil War, while Mexicans locked in shrunken territories fought over liberal reforms and then faced a French occupation—all in the 1860s. With Union victory, the U.S. continued its drive for continental hegemony. Simultaneously, Mexican liberals led by Benito Juárez consolidated power and welcomed U.S. capital. U.S. investors built Mexican railroads, developed mines, and promoted export industries, including petroleum. The U.S. and Mexican economies merged; U.S. capital and technology shaped Mexico while Mexican workers built the U.S. west. The economies were so integrated that a U.S. downturn, the panic of 1907, was pivotal in setting off Mexico’s 1910 revolution, a sociopolitical conflagration that focused Mexicans while the U.S. joined World War I.

Afterwards, the U.S. roared in the 1920s while Mexicans faced reconstruction. Though the U.S. blocked immigration from Europe, the nation still welcomed Mexicans across a little-patrolled border to build dams and irrigation systems, cities and farms across the west. When the Great Depression hit in 1929 (begun in New York, spread across the U.S., and exported to Mexico), Mexicans became expendable. Denied relief, they got one-way tickets to the border, forcing thousands south—including children born as U.S. citizens.

Mexico absorbed the refugees thanks to new industries and land distributions—reforms culminating in a 1938 oil nationalization. U.S. corporations screamed foul, and FDR enabled a settlement; access to Mexican oil mattered as World War II loomed. When war came, the U.S. needed more than oil. It needed cloth and copper, livestock and leather—and workers, too. Remembering the expulsions of the early 1930s, many resisted going north. So the governments negotiated a labor program, recruiting braceros in Mexico: paying for their travel, and promising decent wages and treatment. Five hundred thousand Mexican citizens fought in the U.S. military; sent to deadly fronts, they suffered high casualty rates.

To support the war, Mexican exporters accepted promises of postwar payment. With peace, accumulated credits allowed Mexico to import machinery for national development. But when credits ran out, the U.S. was subsidizing the reconstruction of Europe and Japan, and Mexico was left to compete for scarce and expensive bank credit. Life came in cycles of boom and bust, debt crises and devaluations. Meanwhile, U.S. pharmaceutical sellers delivered the antibiotics that had saved soldiers in World War II to families across Mexico. Children lived—and Mexico’s population soared: from 20 million in 1940, to 50 million by 1970, to 100 million in 2000. To feed these growing numbers, Mexico turned to U.S. funding and scientists to pioneer a “green revolution.” Harvests of wheat and maize rose to feed growing cities. Reliance on machinery and chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, however, cut rural employment. National industries also adopted labor-saving ways, making employment scarce everywhere. So people trekked north, some to labor seasonally in the bracero program, which lasted until 1964, and others to settle families in once-Mexican regions like Texas and California and in places north and east.

Documentation and legality were uncertain; U.S. employers’ readiness to hire Mexicans for low wages was not. People kept coming. U.S. financing, corporations, and models of production shaped lives across the border; Mexican workers labored everywhere. With integrated economies, the nations faced linked challenges. In the 1980s, the U.S. lived through “stagflation,” while Mexico faced a collapse called the “lost decade.” In 1986, Republican president Ronald Reagan authorized a path to legality for thousands of Mexicans in the U.S., tied to sanctions on employers that aimed to end new arrivals. Legal status kept workers here; failed sanctions enabled employers to keep hiring Mexicans—who kept coming. They were cheap and insecure workers for U.S. producers, subsidizing profits in challenging times.

The 1980s also saw the demise of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the presumed triumph of capitalism. What would that mean for people in Mexico and the U.S.? Reagan corroded union rights, leading to declining incomes, disappearing pensions, and enduring insecurities among U.S. workers. President Carlos Salinas, a member of Mexico’s dominant PRI Party, attacked union power—and in 1992 ended rural Mexicans’ right to land. A transnational political consensus saw the erosion of popular rights as key to post–Cold War times.

Salinas proposed NAFTA to Reagan’s Republican successor, George H. W. Bush. The goal was to liberate capital and allow goods to move freely across borders, while holding people within nations. U.S. businesses would profit; Mexicans would continue to provide a reservoir of low-wage workers—at home. The treaty was ratified in Mexico by Salinas and the PRI, and in the U.S. by Democratic president Bill Clinton and an allied Congress.

As NAFTA took effect in 1994, Mexico faced the Zapatista uprising in the south and then a financial collapse before NAFTA could bring investment and jobs. On top of this, the Clinton-era high-tech boom caused production to flow to China. Mexico gained where transport costs mattered—as with auto assembly. But old textiles and new electronics went to Asia. Mexico returned to growth in the late 1990s, though jobs were still scarce for a population nearing 100 million. Meanwhile, Mexican production of corn for home markets collapsed. NAFTA ended tariffs on goods crossing borders while the U.S. continued to subsidize corporate farmers, enabling agribusiness to export below cost. Mexican growers could not compete, and migration to the U.S. accelerated.

NAFTA created new concentrations of wealth and power across North America. In Mexico, cities grew as a powerful few and the favored middle sectors prospered; millions more struggled with marginality. The vacuum created by agricultural collapse and urban marginality made space for a dynamic, violent drug economy. Historically, cocaine was an Andean specialty, heroin an Asian product. But as the U.S. leaned on drug economies elsewhere, Mexicans—some enticed by big profits, but many just searching for sustenance—turned to supplying U.S. consumers.

U.S. politicians and ideologues blame Mexico for the “drug problem”—a noisy “supply side” argument that is historically untenable. U.S. demand drives the drug economy. The U.S. has done nothing effective to curtail consumption or to limit the flow of weapons to drug cartels in Mexico. Laying blame helps block any national discussion of the underlying social insecurities brought by globalization—deindustrialization, scarce employment, low wages, lowered benefits, vanishing pensions—that close observers know fuel drug dependency. Drug consumption in the U.S. has expanded as migration from Mexico has slowed (mostly due to slowing population growth)—a conversation steadfastly avoided.

People across North America struggle with shared challenges: common insecurities spread by globalizing capitalism. Too many U.S. politicians see benefit in polarization, blaming Mexicans for all that ails life north of the border. Better that we work to understand our inseparable histories. Then we might move toward a prosperity shared by diverse peoples in an integrated North America.

John Tutino
Georgetown University

John Tutino is the author of Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America (Duke University Press, 2011) and The Mexican Heartland: How Communities Shaped Capitalism, a Nation, and World History, 1500–2000 (Princeton University Press, 2018). He is the editor of and a contributor to Mexico and Mexicans in the Making of the United States (University of Texas Press, 2012).

Further Reading - Border Essentials

Featuring dozens of compelling images, this transformative reading of borderland and Mexican cultural production—from body art to theater, photography, and architecture—draws on extensive primary research to trace more than two decades of social and political response in the aftermath of NAFTA.

This compelling chronicle of a journey along the entire U.S.-Mexico border shifts the conversation away from danger and fear to the shared histories and aspirations that bind Mexicans and Americans despite the border walls.

Visit the companion website www.borderodyssey.com to access maps, photographs, a film, audio, and more.

By Chad Richardson and Michael J. Pisani

Now thoroughly revised and updated, this classic account of life on the Texas-Mexico border reveals how the borderlands have been transformed by NAFTA, population growth and immigration crises, and increased drug violence.
Edited by Harriett D. Romo and Olivia Mogollon-Lopez

Bringing together leading scholars from Mexico and the United States in fields ranging from economics to anthropology, this timely anthology presents empirical research on key immigration policy issues and analyzes the many push-pull facets of Mexico-US migration.

Escobar examines the criminalization of Latina (im)migrants, delving into questions of reproduction, technologies of power, and social justice in a prison system that consistently devalues the lives of Latinas

Using oral histories and local archives, this historical ethnography analyzes how and why Mexican American individuals unevenly experienced racial dominance and segregation in South Texas.

Using the U.S. wall at the border with Mexico as a focal point, two experts examine the global surge of economic and environmental refugees, presenting a new vision of the relationships between citizen and migrant in an era of “Juan Crow,” which systematically creates a perpetual undercaste.

A timely exploration of the political and cultural impact of U.S. naturalization laws on Mexicans in Texas, from early statehood years to contemporary controversies.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Wes Anderson Issue from Texas Studies in Literature and Language

Please enjoy this interview about the work and study of director Wes Anderson and his films. The interview was conducted with Donna Kornhaber, guest editor, special issue: Wes Anderson TSLL 60.2 (2018): 1-227

Donna Kornhaber, “Wes Anderson, Austin Auteur”; Tom Hertweck, “The Great Frame-Up: Wes Anderson and Twee Narrative Contrivance”; Kim Wilkins, “Assembled Worlds: Intertextuality and Sincerity in the Films of Wes Anderson”; Kevin Henderson, “Failed Comportment and Fits of Discomposure in the Films of Wes Anderson”; Rachel McLennan, “‘That’s not enough’: Aging in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Rushmore"; Rachel Joseph, “Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums: Writing and Forgiveness”; Alissa Burger, “Beyond the Sea: Echoes of Jules Verne in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”; Peter Sloane, “Kinetic Iconography: Wes Anderson, Sergei Parajanov, and the Illusion of Motion” 
Set from the film Isle of Dogs. Source: Isle of Dogs. Author: Paul Hudson
Could you share with us a ranking of Anderson’s films, starting with your favorite?

This is very hard, but here’s an attempt:

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel 
  2. Moonrise Kingdom 
  3. Fantastic Mr. Fox 
  4. The Royal Tenenbaums 
  5. Rushmore 
  6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 
  7. The Darjeeling Limited 
  8. Bottle Rocket 
You’ll notice I haven’t included Isle of Dogs in the list; I’m still thinking it through.

What aspects of The Grand Budapest Hotel lead you to place it at the top of this list?

I think it’s the film where Anderson’s stylistics and thematics finally reach scale, so to speak—where he is able to build what is arguably his most complete and complex universe (his own country, quite literally) and tell one of his most narratively complicated stories, all without losing the thread of stylistic idiosyncrasy or repeated thematic concerns that mark all of his works. It is an epic Wes Anderson film, which for years seemed like an obvious contradiction in terms; though still invested in the fate of individuals, it operates on a world-historical plane. It is also the first film, I would argue, where Anderson gets serious about politics (something he continues in Isle of Dogs), which likewise seemed an impossibility from a certain view of his earlier works. Grand Budapest shows him taking his manner of filmmaking in directions that previously seemed unfeasible. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Redesigning a Classic Book Cover: The Book of Merlyn

Close your eyes and imagine it is 1975 in Austin, Texas. You are doing research in the archives of the Harry Ransom Center here at the University of Texas at Austin. It is a quiet afternoon in the research library. You've just made a pot of tea. Outside, however, it seems like the world is burning. Protests of the Vietnam War have led to a painful withdrawal and a fracturing of American culture. You love Arthurian legend; the popular fantasy tale The Sword in the Stone published over thirty-five years ago. As a student of literature, you know that T.H. White wrote his famous fantasy series The Once and Future King in the 1930s and 1940s, weaving in anti-war references to reflect his views on the horrors of World War II.
An original illustration from The Book of Merlyn (1977) by Trevor Stubley

The binding on your copy of The Once and Future King has seen better days and you frequently daydream about being tutored by Merlyn. You have pored over T.H. White's archived collection for weeks, seeking at the very least a research question, possibly a note shedding light on White's personal life. You find yourself listlessly sorting through the effects and notes of the dead English author, his writing life contained in some twenty-six document boxes, two of which are oversized. Your brain is starting to atrophy and you wish you could simply wave your magic wand to find that gem of literary history among all these manuscripts for articles, plays, poems, short stories, broadcasts. It would be nice to find something exciting among T.H. White's journals and notebooks, all his outgoing and incoming correspondence, the famous fantasy writer's personal documents. You imagine a dark and damp castle library. Archimedes sits perched in a corner illuminated by candlelight. Merlyn's pipe has filled the medieval library with smoke. Stacks of books and illuminated manuscripts sit piled upon a large wooden table with claw feet.

All of a sudden, a manuscript page catches your eye. The Book of Merlyn.

In 1975, T.H. White's magical account of King Arthur’s last night on earth was rediscovered in a collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Two years later, the University of Texas Press published the lost volume as The Book of Merlyn: 
The Conclusion to The Once and Future King. It spent twenty-six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

1977 edition of The Book of Merlyn
So what else makes The Book of Merlyn special? The plot follows Arthur preparing for his final, fatal battle with his bastard son, Mordred. Arthur returns to the Animal Council with Merlyn, where the deliberations center on ways to abolish war. More self-revealing than any other of White’s books, Merlyn shows his mind at work as he agonized over whether to join the fight against Nazi Germany while penning the epic that would become The Once and Future KingThe Book of Merlyn has been cited as a major influence by such illustrious writers as Kazuo Ishiguro, J. K. Rowling, Helen Macdonald, Neil Gaiman, and Lev Grossman. Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked, writes in the new foreword,

“Arriving from beyond the curve of time and apparently from the grave, The Book of Merlyn stirs its own pages, saying, wait: you didn’t get the whole story. . . . It gives us a final glimpse of those two immortal characters, Wart and Merlyn, up close, slo-mo, with a considered and affectionate scrutiny. The book is an elegiac posting from a master storyteller of the twentieth century. Its reissue in our next century is just as welcome as when it first arrived forty years ago. . . . Certainly the moral questions about the military use of force perplex the world still. . . . The efficacy of treaties, the trading of insults among the potentates of the day, the testing of weapons, the weaponizing of trade—these strategies are still front and center. Rather terrifyingly so. We do well to revisit what that old schoolteacher of children, Merlyn, has been trying to point out to us about power and responsibility.”
To celebrate the new edition of this book, we talked to book designer and illustrator Kimberly Glyder about the process of designing the new cover for The Book of Merlyn. The new version featuring a new foreword by Wicked author Gregory Maguire, publishes September 19, 2018.

Did you read any T.H. White growing up, and if so, how did this influence your design?

Kimberly Glyder: Unfortunately, I must admit, I hadn’t read any of T.H. White before working on this book! However, I was aware of the story of The Sword and the Stone and the fictional character of Merlyn.

How did the original interior illustrations inform your design?

KM: My art director, Dustin Kilgore, sent me the original book, so I was able to see the whole book before beginning my cover illustration. My goal was to update the current cover 
painting, while staying true to the brushwork/line work you see on the original book. I based the painting on multiple references (for the nose, for the hat, etc.) until I came up with a face that fit my concept of how Merlyn should look.

Original illustrations from The Book of Merlyn (1977) by Trevor Stubley
Paul Rand
Did you draw inspiration from another book cover or covers?

KM: After Dustin assigned me this title, I began looking around at other depictions of Merlyn, mostly to see what was out there and what I didn’t want to repeat. I wouldn’t say another book cover influenced me directly, but I was aware of the time period this was published in (1950s, though written earlier). Some of my favorite covers from this time period are those of Paul Rand who worked with limited color palettes and created designs which conveyed such beautiful, bold simplicity. I was aiming for something similar in my interpretation of this book. The hand lettered type references medieval type, but each individual character is unique. 
Paul Rand

What was it like working with UT Press?

KM: I’ve worked on several projects with UT Press now, a few covers and a full book (interior and cover) and each time the process has been great. I’m always been impressed by the design of UT Press books, which is one of the reasons I wanted to work for them!

What are some of the book covers that are most enduring to you?

KM: I have an emotional connection to book covers from childhood, such as the original covers of Catcher in the Rye, Nineteen Eighty-Four and many of the editions of To Kill a Mockingbird. I actually love redesigning classics when I’m lucky enough to get these assignments, because I know how meaningful these books are to people, especially kids. As for current books, I find that I gravitate to covers designed by Gabrielle Wilson, Jaya Miceli, and John Gall. They all seem to have a timeless quality to them, probably because they tend to set trends rather than follow them.

Check out all the iterations of Kimberly's design before the final version!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Pride Month Reading List

By our Marketing, Sales, and Copyediting Fellow David Juarez

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in Greenwich Village, sparked a violent riot between LGBTQ citizens and the New York police. This event became a significant milestone in LGBTQ history and the catalyst for gay and lesbian liberation movements across the nation. Since then, June has come to represent Pride Month in the United States, a celebration of LGBTQ identity and a commemoration of LGBTQ history, figures, and achievements.

LGBTQ identity transcends national boundaries, of course, and this post highlights some of the amazing scholarship from UT Press related to LGBTQ representation, identity, and politics across the globe. These books offer different perspectives on how LGBTQ identities intersect with racial, ethnic, and cultural differences, how we read media, how media reads us, and how great scholarship challenges us to understand the people and the world around us. 


Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism by Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley (forthcoming 2018)
Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital next-millennium narratives. Woven with candid observations about her life as a feminist scholar of African studies and a cisgender femme married to a trans spouse, Tinsley’s “Femme-onade” mixtape explores myriad facets of black women’s sexuality and gender. Her chapters on nontraditional bonds culminate in a discussion of contemporary LGBT politics through the lens of the internet-breaking video “Formation,” underscoring why Beyoncé’s black femme-inism isn’t only for ciswomen. In the tradition of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist and Jill Lepore’s bestselling cultural histories, Beyoncé in Formation is the work of a daring intellectual who is poised to spark a new conversation about freedom and identity in America.

Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism by Uriel Quesada, Letitia Gomez, and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz (2015)

In the last three decades of the twentieth century, LGBT Latinas/os faced several forms of discrimination. To disrupt the cycle of sexism, racism, and homophobia that they experienced, LGBT Latinas/os organized themselves on local, state, and national levels, forming communities in which they could fight for equal rights while simultaneously staying true to both their ethnic and sexual identities. Yet histories of LGBT activism in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s often reduce the role that Latinas/os played, resulting in misinformation, or ignore their work entirely, erasing them from history. Queer Brown Voices is the first book published to counter this trend, documenting the efforts of some of these LGBT Latina/o activists. Comprising essays and oral history interviews that present the experiences of fourteen activists across the United States and in Puerto Rico, the book offers a new perspective on the history of LGBT mobilization and activism. The activists discuss subjects that shed light not only on the organizations they helped to create and operate, but also on their broad-ranging experiences of being racialized and discriminated against, fighting for access to health care during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and struggling for awareness.

Queer Beirut by Sofian Merabet (2014)

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Gender and sexual identity formation is an ongoing anthropological conversation in both Middle Eastern studies and urban studies, but the story of gay and lesbian identity in the Middle East is only just beginning to be told. Queer Beirut is the first ethnographic study of queer lives in the Arab Middle East. Drawing on anthropology, urban studies, gender studies, queer studies, and sociocultural theory, Sofian Merabet’s compelling ethnography suggests a critical theory of gender and religious identity formations that will disrupt conventional anthropological premises about the contingent role that society and particular urban spaces have in facilitating the emergence of various subcultures within the city. From 1995 to 2014, Merabet made a series of ethnographic journeys to Lebanon, during which he interviewed numerous gay men in Beirut. Through their life stories, Merabet crafts moving ethnographic narratives and explores how Lebanese gays inhabit and perform their gender as they formulate their sense of identity. He also examines the notion of “queer space” in Beirut and the role that this city, its class and sectarian structure, its colonial history, and religion have played in these people’s discovery and exploration of their sexualities. In using Beirut as a microcosm for the complexities of homosexual relationships in contemporary Lebanon, Queer Beirut provides a critical standpoint from which to deepen our understandings of gender rights and citizenship in the structuring of social inequality within the larger context of the Middle East.


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Television conveys powerful messages about sexual identities, and popular shows such as Will & Grace, Ellen, Glee, Modern Family, and The Fosters are often credited with building support for gay rights, including marriage equality. At the same time, however, many dismiss TV’s portrayal of LGBT characters and issues as “gay for pay”—that is, apolitical and exploitative programming created simply for profit. In The New Gay for Pay, Julia Himberg moves beyond both of these positions to investigate the complex and multifaceted ways that television production participates in constructing sexuality, sexual identities and communities, and sexual politics. Himberg examines the production stories behind explicitly LGBT narratives and characters, studying how industry workers themselves negotiate processes of TV development, production, marketing, and distribution. She interviews workers whose views are rarely heard, including market researchers, public relations experts, media advocacy workers, political campaigners designing strategies for TV messaging, and corporate social responsibility department officers, as well as network executives and producers. Thoroughly analyzing their comments in the light of four key issues—visibility, advocacy, diversity, and equality—Himberg reveals how the practices and belief systems of industry workers generate the conceptions of LGBT sexuality and political change that are portrayed on television. This original approach complicates and broadens our notions about who makes media; how those practitioners operate within media conglomerates; and, perhaps most important, how they contribute to commonsense ideas about sexuality.


One of the twentieth century’s most important filmmakers—indeed one of its most important and influential artists—Ingmar Bergman and his films have been examined from almost every possible perspective, including their remarkable portrayals of women and their searing dramatizations of gender dynamics. Curiously however, especially considering the Swedish filmmaker’s numerous and intriguing comments on the subject, no study has focused on the undeniably queer characteristics present throughout this nominally straight auteur’s body of work; indeed, they have barely been noted. Queer Bergman makes a bold and convincing argument that Ingmar Bergman’s work can best be thought of as profoundly queer in nature. Using persuasive historical evidence, including Bergman’s own on-the-record (though stubbornly ignored) remarks alluding to his own homosexual identifications, as well as the discourse of queer theory, Daniel Humphrey brings into focus the director’s radical denunciation of heteronormative values, his savage and darkly humorous deconstructions of gender roles, and his work’s trenchant, if also deeply conflicted, attacks on homophobically constructed forms of patriarchic authority. Adding an important chapter to the current discourse on GLBT/queer historiography, Humphrey also explores the unaddressed historical connections between post–World War II American queer culture and a concurrently vibrant European art cinema, proving that particular interrelationship to be as profound as the better documented associations between gay men and Hollywood musicals, queer spectators and the horror film, lesbians and gothic fiction, and others.

Here are other titles that might also be of interest:
David Juarez in his element, surrounded by books.
Marketing and Copyediting Fellow David Juarez has accepted a position as editorial assistant at the University of Notre Dame Press in South Bend, Indiana. David has been a key contributor to the University of Texas Press copyediting and marketing departments during his fellowship. We have appreciated his insightful contributions, his delightful sense of humor, and his willingness to discuss all things Marvel Universe with Senior Editor Jim Burr. Congratulations and let's wish David continued success in scholarly publishing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Holly Gleason's Woman Walk the Line Receives Belmont Book Award

We are thrilled to announce that Holly Gleason's book Woman Walk the Line has won the prestigious Belmont Book Award and will be honored at the International Country Music Conference on June 1. Woman Walk the Line is the twelfth book in our American Music Series, edited by Jessica Hopper, David Menconi, and Oliver Wang. Jessica Hopper's own book Night Moves will publish this September. 
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NASHVILLE, TN—At a time when women’s voices are being raised, Woman Walk The Line: How The Women of Country Music Changed Our Lives continues resonating. With recent appearances on SiriusXM’s Debatable, Emmy-nominated “Pickler & Ben,” Rolling Stone and Mojo, the collection of personal essays by 27 women of varying ages, races, occupations and orientations has won the prestigious Belmont Book Award. Presented on June 1 during the International Country Music Conference held annually at Belmont University, the conference is the foremost academic gathering devoted to country, roots and bluegrass music in the nation.

“I was startled and thrilled for all of the writers and the artists they celebrated,” editor and contributor Holly Gleason said of the news. “I know how academically accomplished those judges are, and it speaks volumes about the work each of these women did. How music impacts a life, changes a person or even empowers an individual is something we don’t pay enough attention to. At a time when #MeToo and TimesUp matters, this book – and the response to it -- is proof that positive women do listen to women’s art, and find within that art a sense of strength, comfort, inspiration and validation. What’s amazing is how many men did, too.”

Named one of No Depression’s Top 10 Books of 2017 and a selection of Minneapolis’ Public Radio’s Rock & Roll Book club, Rolling Stone proclaimed, “There’s probably no better time for Woman Walk The Line … the groundbreakers continue to strike many chords,” Santa Fe New Mexican declared, “a sisterhood — even a whisper network — in the genre that predates #MeToo by decades,” and Britain’s MOJO offered, “The stylistic line from Maybelle Carter through Dolly Parton on up to Taylor Swift isn’t a straight on, and the intention of this absorbing anthology isn’t to pretend that it is…intimate, inspirational essays.” 

Who is reading Woman Walk the Line? (Click to enlarge.)

Who is reading Woman Walk the Line? Allison Moorer and Hayes Carll, Rhiannon Giddens, Keith Urban, Lucinda Williams, Brenda Lee, Lyle Lovett, Reba McEntire, Brandy Clark, Steve Earle, Tammy Faye Starlite, Kenny Chesney, Jim Lauderdale and Wynonna Judd, Dave Schools, Terri Clark, Darius Rucker, Todd Snider, Kacey Musgraves, Tanya Tucker, Lee Ann Womack, Chris Carrabba, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Elizabeth Cook, Billy Bob Thornton, Patty Loveless, Dolly Parton, and Ronnie Milsap
Fixin’ To Write also put the anthology PASTE called “truly stunning” on their 2017 Books We Loved list with Roxanne Gay’s Hunger, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Misfit’s Manifesto, Marie Howe’s Magdalene, Sasha Steensen’s House of Deer, Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply, Jennifer Weiner’s Hungry Heart and Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

“I think women’s art is never as respected as it should be,” Gleason continued. “That’s why this anthology was important to me. Ronni Lundy, who won the top James Beard Award, on the power of Hazel Dickens as a voice of protest and a woman in the 70s? A transgendered writer on Rosanne Cash seeing past the transition to embrace who was going to be as the embodiment of what her music held? Even 17-year old Taylor Swift on Brenda Lee illuminating superstardom as a true artist when she was a young girl? It adds up, and it says, ‘Hell, yeah, we’re here, and we don’t just matter, we manifest!’ This honor recognizes those things in such a profound way.”

As The New York Times wrote, “Each of the 27 essays focuses on the experience of when music was a savior, an inspiration or an acknowledgment of a deep and personal truth.” People seconded that notion with “A rhapsodic, moving look at music’s transformative power” and Oxford American offered, “an exploration of that liminal space between the artist’s intention and the listener’s reception.”

Part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Author Series, Gleason will be part of a panel in late July in Cleveland. In addition, dates are also being sorted out for a panel at the Country Music Hall of Fame this summer. After appearing at the Southern Festival of Books, the Miami Book Fair, a rogue South by Southwest panel, Woman Walk The Line has also gone to Texas State and the University of Florida.

Even noted memoirist Pamela Des Barres, known for I’m With The Band and Lets Spend The Night Together, enthused, “Awesomely important book.”

“It’s the writers and the way music shaped them,” Gleason explained. “It’s undeniable, and it reminds us how pivotal music is in our lives. In the rush of tech and the convenience of streaming, it’s easy to forget.

Full List of Essays and Authors below:

  • Maybelle Carter: The Root of It All by Caryn Rose 
  • Lil Harden: That’s How I Got to Memphis by Alice Randall 
  • Wanda Jackson: When She Starts Eruptin’ by Holly George-Warren 
  • Hazel Dickens: The Plangent Bone by Ronni Lundy 
  • June Carter Cash: Eulogy of a Mother Rosanne Cash 
  • Brenda Lee: Rare Peer by Taylor Swift 
  • Bobbi Gentry: Let the Mystery Be by Meredith Ochs 
  • Loretta Lynn: The Pill by Madison Vain 
  • Dolly Parton: Long Island Down Home Blues by Nancy Harrison 
  • Emmylou Harris: Common Ground in an Uncommon Love by Ali Berlow 
  • Barbara Mandrell: Lubbock in the Rearview Mirror by Shelby Morrison 
  • Tanya Tucker: Punk Country and Sex Wide Open by Holly Gleason 
  • Rita Coolidge: A Dark-Eyed Cherokee Country Gal by Kandia Crazy Horse 
  • Linda Ronstadt: Canciones de Corazon Salvaje by Grace Potter 
  • Rosanne Cash: Expectations and Letting Go by Deborah Sprague 
  • The Judds: Comfort Far from Home by Courtney E. Smith 
  • k.d. lang: Flawless, Fearless by Kelly McCartney 
  • Lucinda Williams: Flesh & Ghosts, Dreams + Marrow by Lady Goodman 
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter: Every Hometown Girl by Cynthia Sanz 
  • Patty Loveless: Beyond What You Know by Wendy Pearl 
  • Shania Twain: But the Little Girls Understand by Emily Yahr 
  • Alison Krauss: Draw Your Own Map by Aubrie Sellers 
  • Taylor Swift: Dancing on Her Own by Elysa Gardner 
  • Kacey Musgraves: Follow Your Arrow by Dacey Orr 
  • Rhiannon Giddens: A Gift Past the Songs by Caroline Randall Williams 
  • Patty Griffin: Remembering to Breathe by Kim Ruehl 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hysterical!: Women in American Comedy wins the Popular Culture Association's Susan Koppelman Award

We are delighted to announce that Linda Mizejewski and Victoria Sturtevant's book Hysterical!: Women in American Comedy has won the Popular Culture Association's Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Anthology, Multi-Authored, or Edited Book in Feminist Studies in Popular and American Culture.

Ideal for classroom use, Hysterical! is an anthology of original essays by the leading authorities on women’s comedy. The book surveys the disorderly, subversive, and unruly
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performances of women comics from silent film to contemporary multimedia.

Amy Schumer, Samantha Bee, Mindy Kaling, Melissa McCarthy, Tig Notaro, Leslie Jones, and a host of hilarious peers are killing it nightly on American stages and screens large and small, smashing the tired stereotype that women aren’t funny. But today’s funny women aren’t a new phenomenon—they have generations of hysterically funny foremothers. Fay Tincher’s daredevil stunts, Mae West’s linebacker walk, Lucille Ball’s manic slapstick, Carol Burnett’s athletic pratfalls, Ellen DeGeneres’s tomboy pranks, Whoopi Goldberg’s sly twinkle, and Tina Fey’s acerbic wit all paved the way for contemporary unruly women, whose comedy upends the norms and ideals of women’s bodies and behaviors.

Hysterical!: Women in American Comedy delivers a lively survey of women comics from the stars of the silent cinema up through the multimedia presences of Tina Fey and Lena Dunham. This anthology of original essays includes contributions by the field’s leading authorities, introducing a new framework for women’s comedy that analyzes the implications of hysterical laughter and hysterically funny performances. Expanding on previous studies of comedians such as Mae West, Moms Mabley, and Margaret Cho, and offering the first scholarly work on comedy pioneers Mabel Normand, Fay Tincher, and Carol Burnett, the contributors explore such topics as racial/ethnic/sexual identity, celebrity, stardom, censorship, auteurism, cuteness, and postfeminism across multiple media. Situated within the main currents of gender and queer studies, as well as American studies and feminist media scholarship, Hysterical! masterfully demonstrates that hysteria—women acting out and acting up—is a provocative, empowering model for women’s comedy.

About the Popular Culture Association

The Popular Culture Association was founded by scholars who believed the American Studies Association was too committed to the then existing canon of literary writers such as Melville, Hawthorne, and Whitman. They believed that the American Studies Association had lost its holistic approach to cultural studies; there was little room, as they saw it, for the study of material culture, popular music, movies, and comics.

To remedy this situation, Professors Ray Browne (Bowling Green State University) and Russell Nye (Michigan State University) started an organization that would be open to more subjects and forms of cultural studies. The Association’s first meeting was in East Lansing, Michigan at Michigan State University in 1971. Aiding the efforts of Browne and Nye were early pioneers such as Jane Bakerman, Carl Bode, Pat Browne, John G. Cawelti, George N. Dove, Marshall W. Fishwick, M. Thomas Inge, Susan Koppelman, Peter C. Rollins, Fred E. H. Schroeder, Emily Toth, Tom Towers, Daniel Walden, and many others.

In 1979, the American Culture Association became a partner in the study of Popular Culture and the two organizations have held joint conferences since that time. Under the tutelage of Ray Browne, the organization grew. The national conference has over 2,000 participants. Moreover, the organization has seven regional organizations: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, Far West, Southwest/Texas, and Oceanic. The regional organizations range in size from 200 to 1,000 participants. The PCA is closely affiliated with four international popular culture organizations in Australia/New Zealand, East Asia, Canada, and Europe. PCA also supports two prestigious, peer-reviewed journals—The Journal of Popular Culture and The Journal of American Culture—and maintains an international organization that meets in the summer of odd numbered years.

In 2003, Ray and Pat Browne stepped down as the leaders of the PCA after many years of building and nurturing the organization. Today, the PCA continues to nurture the study of popular and American culture, champion new and established scholars in both their research and teaching, and support the publication of its two prestigious, peer-reviewed journals, The Journal of Popular Culture and The Journal of American Culture.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Geoff Dyer at the New Austin Central Library

This Wednesday evening, award-winning writer and novelist Geoff Dyer will be in conversation with filmmaker Sasha Waters Freyer at the new central location of the Austin Public Library. Geoff Dyer penned one-hundred original mini-essays engaging a masterfully curated selection of photographs to produce the new book The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand. Dyer's book was highlighted as an editor’s choice in the New York Times and reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of BooksSasha Waters Freyer premiered her feature-
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length documentary film, Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable, at this year's SXSW film festival. Join us in celebrating the stunning new library and enjoy Geoff Dyer discussing Winogrand images drawn from his essays and 
Sasha Waters Freyer presenting excerpts from her award-winning documentary. 

Photography, Film & Conversation with Geoff Dyer & Sasha Waters Freyer
Wednesday, May 16th at 7pm
Austin Public Library, Central

In conjunction with the Austin Public Library and the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation

Garry Winogrand was one of the most important photographers of the 1960’s and 1970’s—along with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander. Decades before digital technology transformed how we produce and consume images, Winogrand made hundreds of thousands of photos with his 35mm Leica. His “snapshot aesthetic” captured a portrait of America from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, the New York City of Mad Men and the early years of the Women’s Movement. When Winogrand died suddenly at age 56 in 1984, Winogrand left behind more than 10,000 rolls of film. With so many unseen images, it has taken until now for the full measure of his artistic legacy to emerge. Sasha Waters Freyer's film depicts a larger-than-life American artist, full of contradictions and totally unresolved. Watch the trailer for the documentary here.

Take a virtual tour of the new downtown location of the Austin Public Library here, where readers can enjoy reading porches overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake, and a rooftop garden with the largest solar installation in downtown Austin. Co-designed by San Antonio architecture firm Lake | Flato Architects (check out our book Lake Flato Houses: Embracing the Landscape), the library also features a wonderful piece of public art, “Caw” by artist Christian Moeller, a grackle-inspired, 37-foot-tall kinetic sculpture with an LED screen.


Dyer’s many books include The Ongoing Moment (winner of the International Center of Photography’s prestigious Infinity Award for Writing/Criticism), But Beautiful (winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize), Out of Sheer Rage (shortlisted for a National Book Critics Circle Award), The Missing of the Somme, the novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, and the essay collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award). His latest book is White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World. A recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the E. M. Forster Prize and, most recently, the Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction, Dyer is an honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books have been translated into twenty-four languages. Dyer is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California.


Sasha Waters Freyer creates nonfiction films about outsiders, misfits, and everyday radicals. Trained in photography and the documentary tradition, she fuses original and found footage in 16mm film and video. Past projects have screened at the Telluride Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the film festivals in Rotterdam, Tribeca, Big Sky, Havana, Videoex, and Ann Arbor, IMAGES in Toronto, the National Museum for Women in the Arts, the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, Union Docs, the Pacific Film Archive, L.A. Film Forum, and Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin, as well as the Sundance Channel and international cable and public television. She is the Chair of the Department of Photography + Film at Virginia Commonwealth University.