Humanities Institute

2008-9 TAS Seminars and Seminar Leaders

Fall Seminars

Rethinking Texas History: Myth and Counternarrative
John M. González, Department of English
Wednesday, October 15th & Wednesday, November 5th

More than any other state of the Union, Texas has been shaped by mythological understandings of its past. Whether imagined through the Battle of the Alamo, the cowboy frontier, or the oilfield scrambles, Texas history fundamentally shapes the attitudes and outlooks of contemporary Texans. This seminar will examine the implications of this dynamic for the future of Texas, particularly given the rapid demographic changes currently underway in the state. We will explore alternative ways of approaching Texas history that respect the complexity of relations between the state's various ethnic communities while acknowledging how differences in community power have resulted in the Texas of today as well as the challenges facing the Texas of tomorrow.

John M. González is an Assistant Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts. He is affiliated with the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Program in Comparative Literature, and the Center for Women's and Gender Studies. His forthcoming book from the University of Texas Press, entitled Border Renaissance: The Texas Centennial and the Emergence of Mexican-American Literature, examines the creation of a bilingual, bicultural literary aesthetic by Texas-Mexican writers during the 1930s. His current research explores the transnational dynamics of contemporary Latino/a narrative literature.

Spring Seminars

The Culture of Cities
Steven Hoelscher, Department of American Studies and Geography
Wednesday, February 11th & Wednesday, March 4th

The United States, the historian Richard Hofstadter famously noted, was born in the country and moved to the city. This seminar examines that social movement and the evolution of the United States from a rural and small-town society to an urban and suburban nation. Specifically, we consider the transformation of urban space and place from the late-eighteenth through the early-twenty-first centuries. Among the themes and problems that emerge from this distinctive geographical setting, we will consider: the segregation of public and private space; the blatant social and spatial divisions between the rich and poor, the native-born and immigrant, and blacks and whites; conflicts over revitalization and gentrification; and the emergence of entirely new forms of suburban landscapes and economies.

Steven Hoelscher is a cultural geographer with research interests in American landscape, ethnicity and race, and U.S. cities. His books include Heritage on Stage, Textures of Place, and Picturing Indians (forthcoming this summer), and he has published articles such scholarly journals as Annals of the Association of American Geographers, American Quarterly, the Journal of Historical Geography, Ecumene, Geographical Review, GeoJournal, and the Public Historian. In 2005, he was awarded the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award for his work in the undergraduate classroom.

Islam in America
Denise A. Spellberg, Department of History and Middle Eastern Studies
Wednesday, March 11th & Wednesday, April 22nd

The course will do three things: provide a brief introduction to Islam; explore the role of Islam and the rights of Muslims in the history of this country; and introduce major issues confronting a diverse and dynamic population of Muslim Americans.

Denise A. Spellberg is Associate Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies. She received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. She specializes in the study of early Islamic history, religion, and gender. Her current research focuses on Islam in early American thought.

From Public Plazas to Private Museums: Understanding Visual Art Presentation
Andrée Bober, Fine Arts
Friday, March 27th & Friday, April 24th

The ways in which works of visual art are presented in public spaces can shape our experiences as viewers. A range of exhibition contexts, from active public plazas to traditional museum settings, can influence opportunities for learning, effect understanding, and create meaning. This seminar will examine the impact of visual art presentation on viewer experience by examining the forces that lead to a work of artÂ’s display, from artistic conception to institutional dynamics. In what ways is artistic production inspired and influenced by the idea of presentation? Why do institutions that are fundamentally concerned with visual art have such divergent modes of display? And for viewers especially, how does the physical setting of a work of art affect its perception? The examination of these issues will feature the collections of LANDMARKS, the new public art program for the UT-Austin campus, and the Blanton Museum of Art.

Andrée Bober is the founding director of LANDMARKS, the public art program of the University of Texas at Austin. She developed the UniversityÂ’s graduate program in museum studies and she has led curatorial and administrative projects for institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati.

Past Seminars

An archive of past TAS Seminars

  • Humanities Institute

    University of Texas at Austin
    HRC 3.360
    Mailcode F1900
    Austin, Texas 78712