Texas Literature Authors Philipp Meyer and Don Graham to Speak at the Bob Bullock Museum

the-son-secondaryThe UT Michener Center for Writers and the Bullock Texas State History Museum will jointly sponsor a conversation between Michener Center alum Philipp Meyer, author of The Son, and Don Graham, J. Frank Dobie Professor of American and English Literature at UT Austin and legendary scholar of Texas literary history.

Their free talk, at 7:00 p.m.Thursday, February 19 at the Bullock, will explore how Meyer’s five years of research led to the prize-winning novel, how Texas mythology and history shaped the story, and how a transplant from Baltimore came to write one of the Great Texas, and Great American, novels.

Meyer received critical acclaim for his 2009 debut novel, American Rust, and The Son, published in 2013, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and named in the Top Ten lists of the Washington Post, Amazon, Toronto Globe and Mail, USA Today and Chicago Tribune, among many other honors.

The New York Times said of the book, “only in the greatest historical novels do we come to feel both the distance of the past and our own likely complicity in the sins of a former age.  To that rank, we now add ‘The Son.'”  Meyer was first introduced to Texas novelists such as Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry—as well as to pivotal events in Texas history that inform his story—in a graduate seminar with Graham while earning his MFA at the Michener Center for Writers.

The program is part of the Bullock Museum’s Texas Art and Culture Series, which is generously supported by Lone Star Beer, the national beer of Texas.  The event is free of charge and open to the public.  The Bullock is located at 1800 Congress Avenue  at W. MLK Blvd.

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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Don Graham’s Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies

Since the advent of filmmaking, dozens of Hollywood heartthrobs have lined up to play cowboys in more than 600 films about or made in Texas.

Who can forget Paul Newman’s brash portrayal of a Texas cowboy in “Hud”? Or James Dean’s turn as ranch hand Jett Rink in “Giant”?

Texas looms larges in moviemakers’ imaginations writes English Professor Don Graham in the pocket-sized handbook “State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies” (TCU Press, 2008), but they don’t always get it right.

“For all of our urban skylines and high-tech yuppiedom, we can’t shake our movie-disseminated mythology as a state of cowboys, hicks, and small-town gaucheries,” Graham lamented in the Texas Monthly article “Unreality Bites.”

Graham is the author of numerous books and articles about Texas, including “Cowboys and Cadillacs: How Hollywood Looks at Texas” (1983) and “Lone Star Literature: From the Red River to the Rio Grande” (2003).

In “State Fare,” the Texas literature specialist provides a brief overview of some of the best (and worst) Texas films, including “Red River,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Urban Cowboy,” and “The Alamo.”

From cattle drives to oil wells, lusty schoolmarms and desperados, Hollywood has captured Texas mythology in all of its many forms.

What are some of your favorite movies about Texas?