AUSTIN, Texas — Manuscript materials by living and legendary authors from The University of Texas at Austin will be featured in an exhibition that opens Oct. 1 at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.
Curated by Dr. Dave Oliphant, in conjunction with his freshman seminar course on the same subject, the exhibit focuses on nine UT Austin authors: Walter Prescott Webb, J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek, Mody Boatright, Harry Huntt Ransom, Americo Paredes, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Thomas Whitbread and Lars Gustafsson.
Materials for the exhibit, which runs through Nov. 15 in the Wrenn Room on the 7th floor of the Harry Ransom Center, have been drawn from the Ransom Center’s rare-book and manuscript collections, as well as from the archives of the University’s Center for American History and its Benson Latin American Collection.
The Big Three — as Webb, Dobie and Bedichek have been called — were the first major regional authors associated with the University. Webb’s The Great Plains, an award-winning volume published in 1931, became a classic in the history of the Southwest and remains in print today. Dobie’s many volumes on the history and folklore of the Southwest also remain in print, primarily from the University of Texas Press. Bedichek’s books represent the first important work of a Texas naturalist and have been an inspiration to another Texas naturalist, John Graves.
Following in the tradition of the Big Three was Mody Boatright, who chaired the University’s department of English in the late 1950s and was an authority on the folkore of the oil industry. Harry Ransom, president of the University in the 1960s and founder of the research center named in his honor, was the author of a number of posthumous volumes concerned with education and the intellectual heritage of Texas.
Among living UT authors, Americo Paredes is considered the first significant scholar of Mexican-American folklore. His book, With His Pistol in His Hand, pioneered the study of border folksong and its depiction of Mexican-American culture in Texas. More recently, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith has become one of the most prolific and insightful novelists in the Southwest. His Klail City Death Trip series dramatizes Mexican-American life in the Texas Valley. Two UT poets, Thomas Whitbread and Lars Gustafsson, have been published by major New York presses, and both also have published prose fiction. Gustafsson’s work has been translated into about a dozen languages worldwide, including his novel,The Tennis Players, which is set in Austin.