Texas Book Festival Begins this Weekend

1197052_texas_gov_house_at_austinUniversity of Texas at Austin faculty and alumni authors will share their expertise on topics ranging from the fate of Savannah during the Civil War, to mapping a career path, to the culture of Texas barbecue at the 2009 Texas Book Festival Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at the Texas Capitol and surrounding areas.

More than 200 writers will showcase their books, including a host of authors from our university. Some of the presenters include:

Author: Jeffrey Abramson, professor of law and government
Book: “Minerva’s Owl: The Tradition of Western Political Thought”
When: Saturday, Oct. 31
Where: Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.028

Author: Oscar Casares, assistant professor of English
Book: “Amigoland”
When: Saturday, Oct. 31
Where: Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.016

Author: Jacqueline Jones, the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History and Ideas and Mastin Gentry White Professor in Southern History
Book: “Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War”
When: Saturday, Oct. 31
Where: Texas State Capitol Extension Room E2.028

Author: Kate Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services
Book: “You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career”
When: Sunday, Nov. 1
Where: Lifestyle Tent (10th and Congress)

Author: Lucas A. Powe, Jr., professor of law and government
Book: “The Supreme Court and the American Elite”
When: Sunday, Nov. 1
Where: Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.016

Author: Elizabeth Engelhardt, associate professor of American Studies
Book: “Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket”
When: Sunday, Nov. 1
Where: Cooking Tent

Author: Mark Weston, UT Law alumnus (moderated by ShelfLife@Texas contributor Laura Castro)
Book: “Prophets & Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present
When: Sunday, Nov. 1
Where: Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.014

The Texas Book Festival was founded in 1995 by former first lady Laura Bush to promote reading and honor Texas authors. Sessions are free and open to the public. Proceeds from books purchased at the festival benefit the state’s public libraries.

Visit this site for a full list of festival authors.

Winners of the Hamilton Book Awards Announced

MCGBENThomas McGarity and Wendy Wagner won the $10,000 grand prize at the Hamilton Book Awards for their book, “Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research” on Oct. 28 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.

McGarity is the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law, and Wagner, is the Joe A. Worsham Centennial Professor in Law at The University of Texas at Austin. Their book was published by Harvard University Press.

The awards are the highest honor of literary achievement given to published authors at The University of Texas at Austin. They are sponsored by the University Co-operative Society.

Michael Granof, chairperson of the Co-operative Society, hosted the event and announced the winners. Victoria Rodriguez, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, presented the awards.

Four faculty members received $3,000 prizes for their books. They were:

• Jacqueline Jones, the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History and Ideas and Mastin Gentry White Professor in Southern History, “Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War” (A. A. Knopf, 2008).

• Peter MacNeilage, professor of psychology, “The Origin of Speech” (Oxford University Press, 2008).

• Tracie Matysik, associate professor of history, “Reforming the Moral Subject: Ethics and Sexuality in Central Europe, 1890-1930” (Cornell University Press, 2009).

• Karen Rascati, the Stewart Turley/Eckerd Corporation Centennial Endowed Professor in Pharmacy, “Essentials of Pharmacoeconomics” (Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2008).

The University Co-op is a not-for-profit corporation owned by the students, faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Austin. Since the year 2000, the University Co-op has given more than $28 million in gifts and rebates.

Digital Media: Exploration of Social Networking and New Media

Watkins, Craig 2009by Samantha Ruiz

Could today’s youth be the ultimate experts in the digital evolution?

Craig Watkins, associate professor of Radio-Television-Film, answers this question and takes us into the world of new media in his latest project, “The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future” (Beacon 2009). “The Young and the Digital” explores highs and lows of digital media and how it affects lives of today’s youth from tweens, to teens, to 20-somethings.

He examines how the use of social networks, online gaming, and time spent online in general are influencing the way we view evolution of the digital scene and social media platforms.

“Social media has emerged as the dominant media in our lives because it offers something that television cannot offer: the constant opportunity to connect and share our lives with close friends and acquaintances,” Watkins said.

ShelfLife@Texas recently sat down to interview Watkins on his new book and his experience with digital media.

Q: How has media affected your life on a personal level?
A: Digital media has made it much easier for me to keep up with the news and information sources that I prefer. I have to admit that I stopped reading newspapers on a regular basis many years ago, but that does not mean that I have abandoned the news. As a result of the Internet, the reverse has happened. I’m able to follow news in a much more flexible yet detailed way and learn about a wide array of topics or the things that I really care about which include health, technology, politics, and the business and culture of sports.

Q: You have an 8-year-old daughter, what role does new media play in her life?
A: Like most kids her age she is quite comfortable with new media including mobile phones, mobile phone apps, video games, and computers. My daughter usually takes the lead in downloading new apps for my phone and eagerly explores all of its capabilities. She has introduced me to new features on my phone that have actually been useful for me. Research over the years shows that young children, unlike their adult counterparts, are not intimidated by technological innovation. In fact, they seem to be really drawn to new technologies and have typically emerged as the “tech gurus” in their own homes.

Q: What, if anything, do you think we can learn from today’s youth and their knowledge of digital media?
A: Young people’s enthusiastic embrace of technology is about being able to communicate more efficiently with a wide array of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Q: What was the most surprising outcome that you found through your research?
A: That the more things change the more they really do seem to stay the same. Here’s what I mean: there is no question that young people’s non-stop use of technology–mobile phones, social media–represents a major shift in behavior. That is, how they use technology at home, in the classroom, and even when they are with each other. It represents new ways of being “social” in the world today. Some, of course, question if young people are social. But the idea of what it means to be social is constantly evolving in the face of technological innovations. This, I discovered, is really a constant theme in modern American life.

Watkins teaches in the Department of Radio-TV-Film and at the Center for African and African American Studies. He is also involved in the MacArthur Foundation Project.

His other books include “Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture and the Struggle for the soul of a Movement” (Beacon Press 2005) and “Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema” (University of Chicago Press 1998).

“The Young and the Digital” was released in October. You can view a trailer by Watkins at YouTube or read more at www.theyounganddigital.com.

BookPeople reading features law professor's journey from Alaska to Gitmo

09-justice-at-guantanamoUniversity of Texas law professor Kristine A. Huskey will discuss and sign her new book, “Justice at Guantanamo: One Woman’s Odyssey and Her Crusade for Human Rights,” at BookPeople at 7 p.m., Thursday, October 22.

Huskey, who teaches in the Law School’s National Security Clinic and is a fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, will also talk about the future of Guantanamo; and the current federal policy on preventive detention.

“Justice at Guantanamo” (Lyons Press, June 2009) is a memoir, chronicling Huskey’s personal journey from her native Alaska, to a civil war in Africa, to bartending and modeling in New York City, and ultimately to the law where she found her calling, defending human rights, after practicing for several years at a law firm in Washington, D.C.

Huskey, a 1997 graduate of the Law School who established the National Security Clinic in 2007, began representing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees in 2002 as one of a few lawyers willing to challenge the government soon after 9/11. And as she told an audience at the School of Law yesterday, Huskey spent years battling the government before even getting a chance to meet her detainee clients, whose case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

BookPeople is on the corner of West 6th Street and N. Lamar.

Lightning Strikes Twice

kinematics_martinez-shelflifeYou don’t have to be an Einstein to learn more about Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, thanks to Alberto Martínez’s accessible writing style in his new book titled “Kinematics: The Lost Origins of Einstein’s Relativity” published by Johns Hopkins University Press 2009.

Martínez, an assistant professor in the Department of History, will present a talk on the process of writing and publishing his new book at The University of Texas History of Science Colloquium from noon to 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, in GAR 1.102.

Whereas various historians have studied the origins of Einstein’s theory in relation to optics, electricity, and magnetism, none had analyzed its roots in the context of kinematics- the science of motion. Martínez explains that the book is the product of 15 years of research. “By contrast to works that are thick on conjectures, I worked to assemble the most extensive collection of documentary sources and to compose a ‘mosaic’ account of Einstein’s path to relativity.”

The cover of the book uses artwork designed by the author. “Basically, in Bern on 1905, early on a May morning, Einstein woke up with a breakthrough idea: events that are simultaneous to one observer might not be simultaneous to another,” Martínez says. “He analyzed this notion by asking himself, how would we know whether lightning bolts strike distant places at the same time? This question led him to the relativity of time.” Accordingly, the cover of Martínez’s book illustrates that imaginary view: it shows an early morning view of the Swiss capital, Bern, with two lightning bolts striking at once.

Next Paisano Fellow shares tall tales, not-so-tall tales and “Birdisms”

SarahBirdSarah Bird’s favorite description of herself as an author came from a high school student who was forced to attend a literary reading by her English teacher. She says,  “Sarah Bird was tall and thin and wore these cute reading glasses on the tip of her nose. If I recall correctly, she forgot her reading glasses and had to borrow somebody’s in the audience. Regardless of the reading glasses situation, she was very genuine and you could just tell on her face she did not write novels for money, she wrote novels because she loved writing. Her short excerpts to me seemed like a complete novel of their own. I mean she specifically picked pieces she loved, but the details just filled up like a complete novel. I really enjoyed this reading, and I definitely got some laughs out of it.”

Laughs and enjoyment seem to be two key aspects of writing novels for Sarah Bird and they were plentiful on Thursday night (10/8/09) as Bird was welcomed as the next Dobie Paisano Fellow during an event in her honor on The University of Texas at Austin campus.  Bird will hold the Ralph A. Johnston fellowship for established writers during her time on the Paisano ranch.

Bird enchanted the audience with witty tales of her younger self (who would be insanely jealous of her new fellowship), excerpts from her writing (including channeling her “Zen Mama” to deal with a teenage child) and stories from the front lines of Houston high society.

A columnist for Texas Monthly and the author of seven novels, Bird’s writing career has won her many awards and accolades.  These include the Elle Magazine Reader’s Prize, Amazon’s Fiction and Literature Editors and the American Library Association’s Booklist Editors Best Book of the Year and the Texas Institute of Letters’s Award for Best Work of Fiction (twice) among others.

Becoming an author was not Bird’s dream as a little girl.  As the child of a military family, much of her youth was spent oversees with little exposure to writers.  She says,

“The idea of being a writer never crossed my mind until I discovered a form so, hmmm, let’s say, ‘approachable,’ that it occurred to me that human beings might be producing it rather than the gods who wrote the books I loved.  This form was the photo-romance.  I discovered the photo-romance when I was an au pair in France.  Ostensibly, I was in France learning French.  Actually, I was fleeing a very bad love affair.  In any case, I was a 20-year-old nitwit and the only person whose French was worse than mine was the three-month-old bebe I was taking care.  So I started buying photo-romances as a shy person’s way of learning the colloquial language.

When I returned home, I sought out a comparable market in the United States and discovered true confession magazines.. ..These publications allowed me to learn how to tell a story in a voice that was not my own, to sink deeply into a character and her world, but, most importantly, since these ‘confessions’ were all anonymous, they allowed me to simply learn how to fill up pages with no thought whatsoever that they would ever be associated with me.”

As she has clearly learned how to do more than “fill up pages,” Bird still expressed “utter delight and astonishment” upon learning that she was chosen for the fellowship.  The last time she applied for a fellowship more than 25 years ago, (the Paisano fellowship, as a matter of fact) she was turned down.  She says it took this long to get up the nerve to apply again.  That might also have to do with the fact that her friend Terry Galloway, who did win the fellowship that year, tried to make her feel better by extolling the more rustic virtues of the ranch – including rattlesnakes and scorpions.

Bird, who will live on the ranch with her “Texas boy” husband, is undaunted by the critters and is looking forward to the proximity to nature as she works on a rewrite of her next novel for her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.

A Q&A with the Authors of “Why Women Have Sex”

9780805088342Why women have sex has long been a vexing question. In hopes of providing new insight into this provocative topic, psychologists Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss collected candid stories from more than 1,000 women from 46 states, eight Canadian provinces, three European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and China. The findings, detailed in their new book “Why Women Have Sex,” reveal a shocking array of reasons – from boredom to self-loathing to painful headaches to jealousy. We sat down with the authors to gather more insight into the mystery of women’s sexual behavior.

How can women benefit from this research?

Buss: Why women have sex is important from several different perspectives. One is a deeper understanding of the paths to personal happiness. Women’s sexual experiences can create soaring heights of ecstasy and deep fulfillment (becoming “one” with another person; transcendental spiritual experiences such as feeling closer to God). Others can lead to the depths of despair. Some women in our studies had sex in order to assuage their loneliness, which works in some cases, but in other cases leads women to feel a sense of self-loathing and social rejection that is truly heart breaking. So understanding why women have sex has many practical advantages for women and their partners.

Meston
: I don’t think women, in general, spend a lot of time thinking about why they have sex. By reading all the experiences of different women, I believe it may lead some women to think more about the consequences of their own sexual choices. They might think “when I have sex for x, I feel really good afterward; when I have sex because of y, I feel crappy.” In other words, it might help women to become more informed “consumers” of sex.

What findings surprised you the most?

Meston: We knew motivations were more complex than it feeling good, or trying to have a baby. But we were still astonished by the amazing diversity of sexual motivations – from the mundane to a sense of adventure to borderline evil. It was also interesting to discover how the same sexual motivation could have vastly different consequences for different women – having “revenge sex” led some women to feel less cheated, like the score was now evened. For other women it made them feel cheap and regretful. The outcome of the sexual choice is obviously related to each woman’s unique personal past as well as her current moral, religious and cultural beliefs.

Buss: One thing that surprised me was what I refer to as the “darker” aspects of women’s sexual motivation. Some women had sex to get revenge. For example, revenge against a best friend who had slept with the woman’s boyfriend or husband, or revenge against a partner who had cheated on her. A few women even had sex in order to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease!

Aside from an emotional connection or physical attraction, what are some other reasons for why women have sex?

Meston: So many women responded by saying they were forced into having sex, or that they had no choice, so we thought it was an important topic to cover. It’s important to study women who have experienced sexual abuse because it could have consequences on their sexual satisfaction and functioning into adulthood.

Buss:
Another set of findings that surprised me centered on the intensity of women’s sexual competition with other women. Sometimes it’s a battlefield out there, and I think men are largely unaware of the intensity of women’s sexual competition!

In comparison to men, do women have more complex reasons for having sex?


Buss:
Women’s sexual psychology is complex, far more complex that I envisioned when Cindy and I first embarked on this project. What turns women on physiologically in terms of sexual arousal, for example, is not necessarily the same as what turns women on psychologically. For men, in contrast, there’s a closer connection between psychological and physiological sexual arousal. This is just one example of how a deeper understanding of women’s sexual psychology, and how it differs from men, can lead to deeper sexual and romantic relationships between women and men.

What sets your research apart from other sexual health studies?

Meston: There has been a lot of research on how people are having sex and how often they’re doing it. But the more important question is why they’re doing it. If we’re going to have any impact on reinforcing sexual behaviors or techniques that will enhance sexual satisfaction, we need to investigate why women are having sex in the first place. For example, if a woman is having frequent unprotected sex, telling her to use a condom is not going to be an effective intervention if her motivation to do so is to punish herself. We need to understand the underlying sexual motivation if we are to make positive behavioral change.

Do you think this book could help strengthen relationships between men and women, both emotionally and physically?

Meston: Good sex in a relationship isn’t talked about that much. But bad sex or low sex drives are the key reasons why people have extramarital affairs – and ultimately for the demise of relationships and marriages. Sex and money are the two top reasons why people get divorced, so this book is a very good resource for married couples.

Buss: Women’s sexual motivations, which lead to sexual experiences, touch so many other domains of their lives. They affect women’s social relationships with men and with other women; they influence women’s social and sexual reputations; they influence women’s sense of identity and self-esteem. It’s difficult to think of a domain that has more far-reaching consequences than women’s sexual experiences, which are driven in large part by their sexual motivations.

Could men benefit from this book too?

Meston: I think by reading this book, men will truly get into the sexual psychology of women. Understanding why women have sex and what makes it a gratifying experience and what doesn’t is going to help men become more empathic and good sexual partners in their relationships. A lot of women and men have a hard time communicating about their sexuality, especially for couples in long-term relationships. I think it would be much easier to read a book and gain some insight into some of those mysteries.

Buss: I think it should be required reading for all men. Our book illuminates women’s sexuality, ranging from the physiology of sexual orgasm and “sexual healing” to the complexities of women’s sexual psychology. It will help men to become better lovers and better partners. The book will also help women to understand their own sexuality, as well as the sexuality of their friends, sisters and other women they care about.

How can this book help women learn more about themselves?

Buss: Some women think that they are alone in the sexual experiences they’ve had, and in some ways, each sexual experience is unique. But we think that many women will be able to identify with the women in our book, since they too have had similar sexual experiences. Women will also learn a lot about the circumstances that lead to positive sexual outcomes, and just as important, the circumstances that can lead to sexual disasters, which can cause some women to suffer years of sexual regret. Although we did not write the book as a self-help book, we believe that women will learn a great deal of useful information about their own sexuality from reading our book.

About the Authors
Cindy M. Meston is one of the world’s leading researchers on women’s sexuality and a professor of clinical psychology. She is also the director of the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory, a cutting-edge lab on women’s sexual experience.

David M. Buss, one of the founders of the field of evolutionary psychology, is a professor of psychology and the author of several books, including “The Evolution of Desire” and “The Dangerous Passion.” Their jointly authored article, “Why Humans Have Sex,” garnered international attention when it was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

A Q&A with the Authors of "Why Women Have Sex"

9780805088342Why women have sex has long been a vexing question. In hopes of providing new insight into this provocative topic, psychologists Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss collected candid stories from more than 1,000 women from 46 states, eight Canadian provinces, three European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and China. The findings, detailed in their new book “Why Women Have Sex,” reveal a shocking array of reasons – from boredom to self-loathing to painful headaches to jealousy. We sat down with the authors to gather more insight into the mystery of women’s sexual behavior.

How can women benefit from this research?

Buss: Why women have sex is important from several different perspectives. One is a deeper understanding of the paths to personal happiness. Women’s sexual experiences can create soaring heights of ecstasy and deep fulfillment (becoming “one” with another person; transcendental spiritual experiences such as feeling closer to God). Others can lead to the depths of despair. Some women in our studies had sex in order to assuage their loneliness, which works in some cases, but in other cases leads women to feel a sense of self-loathing and social rejection that is truly heart breaking. So understanding why women have sex has many practical advantages for women and their partners.

Meston
: I don’t think women, in general, spend a lot of time thinking about why they have sex. By reading all the experiences of different women, I believe it may lead some women to think more about the consequences of their own sexual choices. They might think “when I have sex for x, I feel really good afterward; when I have sex because of y, I feel crappy.” In other words, it might help women to become more informed “consumers” of sex.

What findings surprised you the most?

Meston: We knew motivations were more complex than it feeling good, or trying to have a baby. But we were still astonished by the amazing diversity of sexual motivations – from the mundane to a sense of adventure to borderline evil. It was also interesting to discover how the same sexual motivation could have vastly different consequences for different women – having “revenge sex” led some women to feel less cheated, like the score was now evened. For other women it made them feel cheap and regretful. The outcome of the sexual choice is obviously related to each woman’s unique personal past as well as her current moral, religious and cultural beliefs.

Buss: One thing that surprised me was what I refer to as the “darker” aspects of women’s sexual motivation. Some women had sex to get revenge. For example, revenge against a best friend who had slept with the woman’s boyfriend or husband, or revenge against a partner who had cheated on her. A few women even had sex in order to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease!

Aside from an emotional connection or physical attraction, what are some other reasons for why women have sex?

Meston: So many women responded by saying they were forced into having sex, or that they had no choice, so we thought it was an important topic to cover. It’s important to study women who have experienced sexual abuse because it could have consequences on their sexual satisfaction and functioning into adulthood.

Buss:
Another set of findings that surprised me centered on the intensity of women’s sexual competition with other women. Sometimes it’s a battlefield out there, and I think men are largely unaware of the intensity of women’s sexual competition!

In comparison to men, do women have more complex reasons for having sex?


Buss:
Women’s sexual psychology is complex, far more complex that I envisioned when Cindy and I first embarked on this project. What turns women on physiologically in terms of sexual arousal, for example, is not necessarily the same as what turns women on psychologically. For men, in contrast, there’s a closer connection between psychological and physiological sexual arousal. This is just one example of how a deeper understanding of women’s sexual psychology, and how it differs from men, can lead to deeper sexual and romantic relationships between women and men.

What sets your research apart from other sexual health studies?

Meston: There has been a lot of research on how people are having sex and how often they’re doing it. But the more important question is why they’re doing it. If we’re going to have any impact on reinforcing sexual behaviors or techniques that will enhance sexual satisfaction, we need to investigate why women are having sex in the first place. For example, if a woman is having frequent unprotected sex, telling her to use a condom is not going to be an effective intervention if her motivation to do so is to punish herself. We need to understand the underlying sexual motivation if we are to make positive behavioral change.

Do you think this book could help strengthen relationships between men and women, both emotionally and physically?

Meston: Good sex in a relationship isn’t talked about that much. But bad sex or low sex drives are the key reasons why people have extramarital affairs – and ultimately for the demise of relationships and marriages. Sex and money are the two top reasons why people get divorced, so this book is a very good resource for married couples.

Buss: Women’s sexual motivations, which lead to sexual experiences, touch so many other domains of their lives. They affect women’s social relationships with men and with other women; they influence women’s social and sexual reputations; they influence women’s sense of identity and self-esteem. It’s difficult to think of a domain that has more far-reaching consequences than women’s sexual experiences, which are driven in large part by their sexual motivations.

Could men benefit from this book too?

Meston: I think by reading this book, men will truly get into the sexual psychology of women. Understanding why women have sex and what makes it a gratifying experience and what doesn’t is going to help men become more empathic and good sexual partners in their relationships. A lot of women and men have a hard time communicating about their sexuality, especially for couples in long-term relationships. I think it would be much easier to read a book and gain some insight into some of those mysteries.

Buss: I think it should be required reading for all men. Our book illuminates women’s sexuality, ranging from the physiology of sexual orgasm and “sexual healing” to the complexities of women’s sexual psychology. It will help men to become better lovers and better partners. The book will also help women to understand their own sexuality, as well as the sexuality of their friends, sisters and other women they care about.

How can this book help women learn more about themselves?

Buss: Some women think that they are alone in the sexual experiences they’ve had, and in some ways, each sexual experience is unique. But we think that many women will be able to identify with the women in our book, since they too have had similar sexual experiences. Women will also learn a lot about the circumstances that lead to positive sexual outcomes, and just as important, the circumstances that can lead to sexual disasters, which can cause some women to suffer years of sexual regret. Although we did not write the book as a self-help book, we believe that women will learn a great deal of useful information about their own sexuality from reading our book.

About the Authors
Cindy M. Meston is one of the world’s leading researchers on women’s sexuality and a professor of clinical psychology. She is also the director of the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory, a cutting-edge lab on women’s sexual experience.

David M. Buss, one of the founders of the field of evolutionary psychology, is a professor of psychology and the author of several books, including “The Evolution of Desire” and “The Dangerous Passion.” Their jointly authored article, “Why Humans Have Sex,” garnered international attention when it was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.