Irish Author Colm Tóibín Reads on Campus

Colm-HBAcclaimed Irish author Colm Tóibín is on campus as a guest of the Michener Center for Writers and will read at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25 in the Avaya Auditorium, ACES 2.302.

Tóibín, a former visiting professor of the Michener Center’s master’s of fine arts program, began his career in journalism before turning to novel writing.  His first novel “The South” was published in 1990, followed by “The Heather Blazing,” “The Story of the Night” and “The Blackwater Lightship,” which was shortlisted for the distinguished Booker Prize in Fiction.

His most lauded novel to date “The Master was again shortlisted for the Booker in 2004 and won the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Novel of the Year.  The novel builds upon biographical research and speculation about Henry James to re-imagine the author’s interior life.  Reviewing “The Master,” writer Michael Cunningham said “Tóibín takes us almost shockingly close to the mystery of art itself. A remarkable, utterly original book.”

Tóibín’s most recent books include a collection of stories: “Mothers and Sons,” and the novel “Brooklyn,” a sparely written account of a young woman’s emigration from Ireland to the United States in the 1950s.  The novel recently won out over Booker-winning author Hilary Mantel’s much-lauded “Wolf Hall” for the 2009 Costa Prize for the Novel.  He has continued to publish widely as a journalist, literary critic and essayist.

While at UT, Tóibín will also visit with Professor Brian Doherty’s Plan II freshman world literature students, who are reading his short stories, and graduate fiction students in the Michener Center’s master’s of fine arts program and the Department of English’s master’s of arts  in Creative Writing program.

The reading is free and open to the public.  The ACES building is located on the southeast corner of 24th and Speedway on campus and parking is available in the nearby garage on San Jacinto.

“7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods” author Chef Allie Kent Dishes on Healthy Food Choices for the Kitchen

Allie frontprint

ShelfLife@Texas sat down with Chef Allie Kent, University of Texas at Austin alumna (English ’86), to discuss her new book “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods” and her tips for a healthier lifestyle.

What inspired you to write “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods”?

I was tired of being tired all of the time, of being overweight, of getting “4-5″ colds a year consistently, and as I am getting older (in my 40s now) I knew that I had to make changes now in order to have the quality of life I’d would wish for in the future – a life free of prescription drugs and walkers or wheelchairs, with my mental faculties intact.  By changing my lifestyle, I lost over 70 pounds, I’ve regained energy – feeling like I did in my 20s, and I believe that my health is better than it has ever been, indicated by great readings on blood pressure, and more.

Can you explain to our reader’s who might not know what a raw diet is?

A Raw food lifestyle, for it is a lifestyle change, is simply incorporating food as nature intended it, food for our bodies as the human species has evolved and adapted for over eons of time.  When raw food is well prepared, people who are used to eating SAD (Standard American Diet) will enjoy it equally well, and it’s SOOOO much better for the body, especially in the long-run.

What do you think the greatest benefits are to eating a raw diet?

From my own experience, and that of my students and clients, the greatest benefits to adopting a raw food lifestyle are the boost in energy, weight loss to each person’s natural level without having to think about it, healthy readings on medical tests, and there is more – the flavors, textures, and vibrancy of the food blossoming on the tongue, and for the eye.  Why eat just anything, when it can be this good, and good for you too?

What advice might you offer to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their diets?

My advice to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their lives is to go at your own body’s pace; some of us transition overnight (I did), and others do better taking small steps of adding more into their diet over time.  Easiest first step is to replace breakfast with a non-dairy based green or fruit smoothie.  One of my favorite combinations is: 1 c water, 1 mango (peeled/seed removed), couple handfuls of spinach, 1 scoop of Mila, and a banana, all blended.  It’s easy, it’s quick, it tastes great, and it’s filling.  Best next step is to replace dinner with a salad and/or blended, non-heated soup – there are all kinds of recipes for these.  Taking a class to learn how to set up a kitchen and how to prepare the foods is also very helpful.


"7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods" author Chef Allie Kent Dishes on Healthy Food Choices for the Kitchen

Allie frontprint

ShelfLife@Texas sat down with Chef Allie Kent, University of Texas at Austin alumna (English ’86), to discuss her new book “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods” and her tips for a healthier lifestyle.

What inspired you to write “7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods”?

I was tired of being tired all of the time, of being overweight, of getting “4-5″ colds a year consistently, and as I am getting older (in my 40s now) I knew that I had to make changes now in order to have the quality of life I’d would wish for in the future – a life free of prescription drugs and walkers or wheelchairs, with my mental faculties intact.  By changing my lifestyle, I lost over 70 pounds, I’ve regained energy – feeling like I did in my 20s, and I believe that my health is better than it has ever been, indicated by great readings on blood pressure, and more.

Can you explain to our reader’s who might not know what a raw diet is?

A Raw food lifestyle, for it is a lifestyle change, is simply incorporating food as nature intended it, food for our bodies as the human species has evolved and adapted for over eons of time.  When raw food is well prepared, people who are used to eating SAD (Standard American Diet) will enjoy it equally well, and it’s SOOOO much better for the body, especially in the long-run.

What do you think the greatest benefits are to eating a raw diet?

From my own experience, and that of my students and clients, the greatest benefits to adopting a raw food lifestyle are the boost in energy, weight loss to each person’s natural level without having to think about it, healthy readings on medical tests, and there is more – the flavors, textures, and vibrancy of the food blossoming on the tongue, and for the eye.  Why eat just anything, when it can be this good, and good for you too?

What advice might you offer to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their diets?

My advice to people who are interested in incorporating more raw food into their lives is to go at your own body’s pace; some of us transition overnight (I did), and others do better taking small steps of adding more into their diet over time.  Easiest first step is to replace breakfast with a non-dairy based green or fruit smoothie.  One of my favorite combinations is: 1 c water, 1 mango (peeled/seed removed), couple handfuls of spinach, 1 scoop of Mila, and a banana, all blended.  It’s easy, it’s quick, it tastes great, and it’s filling.  Best next step is to replace dinner with a salad and/or blended, non-heated soup – there are all kinds of recipes for these.  Taking a class to learn how to set up a kitchen and how to prepare the foods is also very helpful.


Center for Mexican American Studies hosts talk with the co-editors of “Beyond the Latino World War II Hero”

rivbeyMaggie Rivas-Rodríguez, associate professor of journalism, and Emilio Zamora, professor of history, will discuss their new anthology “Beyond the Latino World War II Hero: The Social and Political Legacy of a Generation” (University of Texas Press, 2009), at an event hosted by the Center for Mexican American Studies at 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16, at El Mercado Uptown, 1702 Lavaca St.

The collection of oral histories, scribed by an array of scholars from various disciplines, adds illuminating insights into Mexican American patriotism during World War II. Addressing important issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and its effects on veterans’ families, and Chicano activism during the 1960s and 1970s, the writers contribute diverse perspectives of the Mexican American wartime experience.

Rivas-Rodríguez founded the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project. The project has interviewed more than 650 men and women of the World War II generation and has multiple components, including a photographic exhibit, a play, three books, and educational material.

Zamora is the author of “Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas,” and “The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas.”

UT Alumna Shares the Memoirs of French Revolutionists Turned Fugitives in “Orphans on the Earth”

OLIVER_newbkcvrThe turbulent and violent period just after the onset of the French Revolution known as the Terror of 1793–1794, is the backdrop for University of Texas alumna Bette Oliver’s book “Orphans on the Earth” (Lexington Books 2009). The book tells the story of the Girondins, specifically those elected deputies who helped establish the new republic, and who would later became fugitives from their own government—hunted down by their political opponents the Jacobins.

The story draws on the memoirs of revolutionary leaders:  François Buzot, Jerome Pétion, Charles Barbaroux and Jean-Baptiste Louvet, as well as the correspondence between Buzot and Madame Roland. Hiding for several months in the home and attached stone quarry of the deputy Guadet’s relatives, four of these fugitives wrote their memoirs before their presence was discovered. It is the first book to examine the lives of these Girondin fugitives during this period, after which only Louvet remained alive.

Oliver is a specialist in 18th century France and the author of “From Royal to National: The Louvre Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale” (2007). In addition to her work as a historian, she is the author of eight volumes of poetry, much of it about France.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, master’s degree in European history, and a doctorate in modern European history; all from The University of Texas at Austin. She is the sister of the late Chad Oliver, who taught and served as chair for the university’s Anthropology Department several times; he died in 1993.

UT Alumna Shares the Memoirs of French Revolutionists Turned Fugitives in "Orphans on the Earth"

OLIVER_newbkcvrThe turbulent and violent period just after the onset of the French Revolution known as the Terror of 1793–1794, is the backdrop for University of Texas alumna Bette Oliver’s book “Orphans on the Earth” (Lexington Books 2009). The book tells the story of the Girondins, specifically those elected deputies who helped establish the new republic, and who would later became fugitives from their own government—hunted down by their political opponents the Jacobins.

The story draws on the memoirs of revolutionary leaders:  François Buzot, Jerome Pétion, Charles Barbaroux and Jean-Baptiste Louvet, as well as the correspondence between Buzot and Madame Roland. Hiding for several months in the home and attached stone quarry of the deputy Guadet’s relatives, four of these fugitives wrote their memoirs before their presence was discovered. It is the first book to examine the lives of these Girondin fugitives during this period, after which only Louvet remained alive.

Oliver is a specialist in 18th century France and the author of “From Royal to National: The Louvre Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale” (2007). In addition to her work as a historian, she is the author of eight volumes of poetry, much of it about France.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, master’s degree in European history, and a doctorate in modern European history; all from The University of Texas at Austin. She is the sister of the late Chad Oliver, who taught and served as chair for the university’s Anthropology Department several times; he died in 1993.

If You Understand Them, They Won't Win: A Q&A with Terrorism Expert Ami Pedahzur

Jewish Terrorism in Israel

In his latest book, “Jewish Terrorism in Israel,” author Ami Pedahzur tells a story which has never been told and in doing so helps alleviate the fear of the unknown. He and co-author Arie Perlinger present a historical overview of political violence in Jewish history, post-1967 terrorist groups, and Jewish terrorism in the 1990’s, including the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, former prime minister of Israel and Noble Peace Prize winner. They also provide analysis of more recent times and the hilltop youth who have settled the occupied territories.

By examining Jewish terrorism in particular, Pedahzur, an associate professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin,  reveals the roots of terrorism in general. ShelfLife recently sat down with Pedahzur to discuss his book, the real controversy and why Americans shouldn’t fear terrorists.

Ami Pedhazur

How do you define terrorism?

It’s scary. It’s surprising. It’s hurts the innocent and it’s evil.

I’m not a big words-person. I’m more interested in the empirical part. For me it’s about identifying a phenomenon. How do I know that something is terrorism and not a guerilla act or insurgency or riot? Terrorism involves the use of violence activated by a political motive with the intention to strike fear in civilian or non-combatant victims and communities.

Terrorism is an tactic not an identity. By reducing a group to the title terrorist group, we sometimes miss its other branches and functions in society and hence lose sight of it importance, magnitude, as well as come up with wrong solutions as for how to deal with it. The same go for individual terrorists. Terrorism in most cases is not a profession. Those who use terrorism vary in terms of their role, tenure with the group function, etc. Hence we need to take a closer  look  at such individuals before we try to offer a profile of a terrorist.

We are asking a more general question. Who uses political violence, under which conditions, and why?

Some might call your book controversial because it concerns only Jewish terrorism. What would you say to them?

It’s controversial if we try to reduce terrorism to a tactic employed only by Muslims, which is something that people who don’t follow the history tend to assume.

The book is not an attempt to protect any particular religion. One of the outcomes of this research, and this is something I firmly believe in, is there’s no particular religious affiliation or association for terrorism. It’s a question of history.

Vilifying a specific religion is not going to get us far.  Take Muslims and Jews. The majority of both religions never engage in violence. They are peaceful people and believers.

For me, the book is completely benign in the sense that it’s just documenting a phenomenon and trying to use the rich data that we’ve gathered for answering the bigger question about the process that turns a believer into someone who commits an act of terror.

How can we stop people from committing terrorist acts?

The depressing answer is terrorism has and always will exist. Instead we should ask “is it really that important?” Is terrorism really that scary or significant? Or are we just subjecting ourselves to the fear they are trying to afflict? The solution is working on our psychology rather than trying to eliminate those who use terrorism as a tactic.

So we should just not be afraid?

Being afraid is not necessarily a bad thing so long as we don’t scare ourselves to death. When we emphasize the role of terrorism in contemporary politics we are only exacerbating the problem.

The impact of terrorism in physical terms and devastation of life, property, etc. when compared to what happened in Haiti two weeks ago is very limited. The impact is psychological. In asking what can actually be done about terrorism, the answer is working on our psychology rather than trying to eliminate those who use terrorism as a tactic.

We need to downplay terrorism for a while.

For Pedahzur, the best counter for terrorism is understanding. That’s why he recently founded the T.I.G.E.R. Lab with the goals of becoming the leading center for the study of terrorism in the country and making publicly available the best data in the world. As Pedahzur explains “These data will portray a story, explain processes, and lead to their own conclusions, and with this wealth and depth of knowledge, [policy makers] can change the world. But, we need to get them the data.”

To learn more about Pedahzur’s work, read The University of Texas Web feature story on suicide bombers.

Feb. 4, UT Michener Center for Writers Presents Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford

Richard Ford

Richard Ford

Richard Ford, the 2010 Michener Residency Award author, will speak at 7:30 p.m., Thurs, Feb. 4, in the Avaya Auditorium, ACES 2.302.

He is the author of six novels—including “A Piece of My Heart,”  “The Sportswriter,”  “Independence Day,” “Wildlife,” and “The Lay of the Land”—and three story collections: “Rock Springs,” “Women with Men,” and  “A Multitude of Sins.”

He received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for “Independence Day” in 1995. In 2001, he was honored with the PEN/Malamud for excellence in short fiction. The New York Times hails him “One of the most compelling and eloquent storytellers of his generation.”

During his three week residency at The University of Texas at Austin, he will work with students in the Michener Center for Writers’ Masters of Fine Arts program.