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.

Decoding the Origins of Speech

The simple act of talking comes to us automatically. But did you know that we use 225 muscles in the chest, larynx, throat, mouth and face in each second when we speak? According to Peter MacNeilage, the extraordinary complexity of speech is an invisible miracle.

Using a Darwinian approach, MacNeilage, professor of psychology, deconstructs the miracle of human language in “The Origin of Speech: Studies in the Evolution of Language” (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Piecing together a mixture of linguistic and nonlinguistic sources such as evolution theory, psychology, animal behavior and neurobiology, MacNeilage assembles a thought-provoking overview of how our powerful communication system originated and evolved.

Challenging Noam Chomsky’s theory that speech is naturally hardwired in brain patterns, MacNeilage explains how it changed in response to evolutionary pressures for more efficient communication. His proposals include the observation that speech formed from bodily movements, such as chewing, smacking and swallowing, which paired with vocalized syllables, transcended into language.

This book is a good resource for readers interested in cognitive and evolutionary science – and to anyone with a curiosity about their language, where it came from, and how it morphed into its present state.

MacNeilage has published more than 120 papers on the topics of neurobiology, language and evolution. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Acoustical Society of America and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral and Social Sciences.