Do Your Holiday Shopping this Saturday at the Humanities Texas Book Fair

flyer_email-copyBooks make great gifts, especially for those “hard to buy for” people on your list. So take a break from the mall and head on over to the Humanities Texas annual Holiday Book Fair this Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the historic Byrne-Reed House.

Twenty-one authors will be available to visit with the public and sign copies of their latest books, which Humanities Texas will offer for purchase at a discounted price. Proceeds will go to the Bastrop Public Library, which suffered losses to its collection during the September wildfires.

The lineup includes:

H.W. Brands, the Raymond Dickson, Alton C. Allen and Dillon Anderson Centennial Professor

1Brands_GreenbackPlanetIn “Greenback Planet,” Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. In The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield, Brands traces the downfall of a notorious New York City figure and brings to life New York’s Gilded Age. More…

Oscar Casares, associate professor of English

1Casares_Amigoland“Amigoland,” set on the South Texas border with Mexico, is the story of estranged brothers Don Fidencio Rosales—querulous, nearly 92 years old, and living in a nursing home—and Don Celestino, twenty years his junior and newly widowed, who finds himself somewhat ambivalently involved with his young cleaning woman, Socorro. The housekeeper is a catalyst for the brothers reconnecting, and the improbable trio takes off on a bus trip into Mexico, where the siblings hope to settle a long-standing dispute about how their grandfather arrived in the U.S. and Socorro hopes to find clarity in her unlikely romance. The trip stirs up powerful issues of family and pride and about how we care for the people we love. More…

Don Graham, the J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English Literature

1Graham_StateofMindsIn “State of Minds,” Graham brings together and updates essays he published between 1999 and 2009 to paint a unique picture of Texas culture. In a strong personal voice—wry, humorous, and ironic—Graham offers his take on Texas literary giants ranging from J. Frank Dobie to Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy and on films such as “The Alamo,” “The Last Picture Show,” and “Brokeback Mountain.” More…


James Pennebaker, the Regents Centennial Liberal Arts Professor and chair of the Department of Psychology

1pennebaker_james“The Secret Life of Pronouns” examines how and why pronouns and other forgettable words reveal so much about us. Partly a research journey, the book traces the discovery of the links between function words and social and psychological states. Written for a general audience, the book takes the reader on a remarkable and often unexpected journey into the minds of authors, poets, lyricists, politicians, and everyday people through their use of words. More…

Jeremi Suri, the Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy

1Suri_JeremyNation-building is in America’s DNA. It dates back to the days of the American Revolution, when the founding fathers invented the concept of popular sovereignty—the idea that you cannot have a national government without a collective will. The framers of the Constitution initiated a policy of cautious nation-building, hoping not to conquer other countries, but to build a world of stable, self-governed societies that would support America’s way of life. In “Liberty’s Surest Guardian,” Suri looks to America’s history to see both what it has to offer to failed states around the world and what the nation should avoid. More…

L. Michael White, the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins and the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins

1White_ScriptingJesusIn “Scripting Jesus,” White challenges us to read the gospels as they were originally intended—as performed stories of faith rather than factual histories. White demonstrates that each of the four gospel writers had a specific audience in mind and a specific theological agenda to push, and consequently wrote and rewrote their lives of Jesus accordingly—in effect, scripting Jesus to get a particular point across and to achieve the desired audience reaction. More…

Park for free in the St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church’s large lot on the northwest corner of 15th and Rio Grande Streets, and enjoy coffee and a bake sale of donated and homemade treats. Go to this website for more information about the authors and their books!

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Faculty Book Celebration Honors L. Michael White’s “Scripting Jesus”

9780061228797Christian history scholar L. Michael White will discuss his book “Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite,” (Harper Collins, May 2010) at a faculty book celebration party hosted by the Department of Religious Studies 5-7 p.m., Wednesday Oct. 29 in Mezes Hall Auditorium..

The gospel stories of Jesus have shaped the beliefs of billions of Christians and deserve to be studied seriously. In “Scripting Jesus,” L. Michael White proposes to do just that — to take them seriously as stories.

He argues that in order to understand the earliest gospels one must look at them the way they were originally intended, rather than newspaper-like historical accounts in any modern sense. Instead, they were intended to be read aloud or performed as stories of faith, which were told and retold, edited and reedited, for the greatest effect.

In “Scripting Jesus,” White examines what the gospel stories meant to people in ancient times and offers insights for how people can read the stories today. Carefully examining the complex and sometimes-conflicting narratives of the gospels, White explains how the gospel writers of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John had a specific audience in mind and a particular perspective to advance.

“White’s hands-on knowledge of archaeology, his broad knowledge of the literature of the Greco-Roman world and his mastery of scholarship in several different areas all combine to make this a rich and illuminating book,” says Wayne A. Meeks, the Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Yale University.

White is the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins and director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of “From Jesus to Christianity” and was featured in two award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries, “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians” and “Apocalypse!,” for which he also was principal historical consultant and co-writer.

In celebration of White’s book, the Department of Religious Studies will host a panel discussion featuring commentary from Steve Friesen, the Boyer Chair in Biblical Studies, and Martha Newman, chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

A Historical Exploration of the Origins of Christianity

In religious tradition Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. But how well do historical findings match up to the stories Christians have long told each other?

According to L. Michael White, the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins, stories of Jesus’ resurrection originated from memories and storytelling by followers who sought to create a unified religion and tell the story of Jesus’s life.

Drawing upon historical evidence and archaeological finds, White reveals new insights into the life of Jesus and the rise of Christianity in “From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries and Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith” (Harper Collins, 2004).

Examining the process of the gospels’ storytelling, White contends that each story of Jesus may reflect the influences and concerns that came from the time of the author rather than from the days of Jesus himself.

The book, which won the university’s prestigious Hamilton Book Award in 2006, provides a detailed portrait of Jesus’ world, as told by the people who lived in that world. It is filled with illustrations, photos of ancient art and artifacts, informative sidebars, charts and maps.

White is the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins. He was Featured in two award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries, “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians” and “Apocalypse!,” for which he also served as principal historical consultant and co-writer. He has published six books and more than thirty articles and book reviews on Christianity and has received numerous awards and honors, including two National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowships.