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.

Tales for Little Rebels

In this anthology of radical children’s literature, Julia Mickenberg, associate professor of American studies, and co-editor Philip Nel, collected 43 mostly out-of-print stories, poems, comic strips and primers, that embody the traditions of 20th-century leftists who encouraged kids to question authority.

The result, “Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature” (NYU Press, 2008) offers a portrait of many progressive concerns of the 20th century, including labor and civil rights, gender equality, and the environment, through the lens of children’s literature.

”A rarely discussed aspect of children’s literature—the politics behind, or part, of a book’s creation—has been thoroughly explored in this intelligent, enlightening, and fascinating account,” writes Anita Silvey, author of “100 Best Books for Children.”

Check out The Washington Post’s Nov. 4 review of “Tales for Little Rebels,” “Better Read than Red.

Mickenberg goes on the road in December to promote her book. She’ll be signing copies at Follett’s Intellectual Property in Austin at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 10.

For all you New York Texas Exes, NYU Press will celebrate “Tales for Little Rebels” with a book party at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 18 at NYU’s Tamiment Library. RSVP to Betsy Steve at betsy.steve@nyu.edu. Mickenberg also will appear at Bluestockings for a reading at noon, Dec. 20.

Circus Queen and Tinker Bell

Did you know the first person to play the role of Tinker Bell in live performances at Disneyland was a 70-year-old Hungarian Jewish immigrant burlesque dancer?

Dangling from a harness attached to a wire at the top of the 146-foot Matterhorn, the 4-foot-10-inch woman slid 784 feet to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, where she initiated the park’s nightly fireworks display.

This remarkably agile woman was Tiny Kline, and her life story provides a fascinating window into U.S. popular culture during the 20th century, writes Associate Professor of American Studies Janet Davis in the introduction to “Circus Queen & Tinker Bell: The Memoir of Tiny Kline” (University of Illinois Press, 2008).

Kline’s memoir, edited by Davis, follows the circus perfomer’s life and career, from the burlesque house to the big top, and includes intimate details about circus life, from its sexual politics to labor relations.

While working for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in the 1920s, Kline became known for her signature “slide for life” stunt, an iron jaw act in which she slid to the ground while dangling from a trapeze by her teeth.

For the next four decades, Kline was billed as the world’s most sensational aerial daredevil. Check out the video clip on YouTube of Kline crossing Times Square–hanging by her teeth.

“Hanging by one’s teeth was popular with trapeze performers looking to make themselves more salable with more breadth and range,” Davis explains. “Yet the learning process was excruciating.”

For years, Kline’s unpublished memoir languished in the archives of Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., until Davis investigated the manuscript’s copyright status and secured the museum’s permission to edit and publish the work.

Based on information culled from obituaries, feature articles, show programs and business records, Davis’ endnotes and annotations give readers a fuller picture of Kline’s life and illuminate the colorful cast of circus personalities who surrounded her.

Davis also is the author of “The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top” (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), which Publishers Weekly called a “fascinating, provocative history.”

Books Offer New Perspectives on American Indian Identity

November is a time of year when popular culture often revisits stereotypes about American Indians via mythologized depictions of the first thanksgiving in the New World. However, the historical facts don’t always match the picture painted in elementary school celebrations.

Scholars at The University of Texas at Austin whose research overturns these stereotypes include Steven Hoelscher, chair of the Department of American Studies, and Erika Bsumek, assistant professor of history.

Both of these faculty members have new books out this fall that examine issues of Native American identity and culture.

Hoelscher’s “Picturing Indians: Photographic Encounters and Tourist Fantasies in H.H. Bennett’s Wisconsin Dells” (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008) traces the many-layered relationship between white photographer H.H. Bennett and the Ho-Chunk Nation. Learn more about the Ho-Chunk people.

While Bsumek’s “Indian-Made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1868-1940” (University Press of Kansas, 2008) explores the complex links between Indian identity, the emergence of tourism in the Southwest, and the meanings behind the brand “Indian-made.”

Hoelscher and Bsumerk will discuss their work and sign copies of their books at Follett’s Intellectual Property this Thursday, Nov. 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Still want to learn more current American Indian cultural issues? Delve into other recent faculty books on this topic, such as:

• “Muting White Noise: Native American and European Novel Traditions” (University of Oklahoma Press, 2006) by James Cox, assistant professor of English;
• “New Perspectives on Native North America: Cultures, Histories, and Representations” (University of Nebraska Press, 2006) by Pauline Turner Strong, associate professor of anthropology; and
• “Captive Selves, Captivating Others: The Politics and Poetics of Colonial American Captivity Narratives” (Westview Press, 2000) also by Turner Strong.

For more background on Thanksgiving myths, check out “The Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving” published by the History News Network at George Mason University.