The University of Texas Press is undertaking project unprecedented in publishing: The Texas Bookshelf. It will comprise 14 books and a companion website launching in 2017, all to be written by UT Austin scholars. The first book will be a new full-length history of Texas, followed by 13 books released over five years on a range of Texas subjects, including politics, music, film, business, architecture and sports, among others.
In his 1962 book “Travels with Charley: In Search of America,” John Steinbeck wrote, “I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.” Texas has long been a source of international fascination for writers, thinkers, musicians, artists, and innovators alike. This vast and varied state occupies a unique and sometimes controversial place in conversations about our nation’s cultural, economic, and political history, yet at the same time embodies something essential about the American experience.
Today’s Texas, like America itself, is vital and diverse, a place whose rich heritage and Wild West romanticism are constantly being recombined with its modern entrepreneurial spirit, reflected in its personalities and national politicians — including three U.S. presidents — and the global boom industries of film, music, high tech, energy and the growing sustainability movement.
Drawing on the state’s brightest writers, scholars and intellectuals, the engagingly written narratives of The Texas Bookshelf will reveal the many fascinating stories that have played out in Texas, from pre-Columbian times to the 21st century.
Director of Princeton University Press Peter Dougherty calls the project “inspired” and says, “The Bookshelf is ambitious in aim, authoritative in authorship, and panoramic in scope. I think it brilliantly merges the resources of the University of Texas with a vision as big as Texas itself. The Bookshelf sets a new standard and establishes a new genre for university presses and publishers everywhere.”
The Bookshelf will launch in 2017 with a sweeping, full-length history of Texas to be written by New York Times best-selling author and faculty member at the university’s Michener Center for Writers, Stephen Harrigan. He is author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including the award-winning novels “The Gates of the Alamo” and “Remember Ben Clayton,” and the critically acclaimed essay collection “The Eye of the Mammoth.”
Thirteen additional titles will follow, released over a five-year period and also written by faculty members at UT Austin, offering provocative and in-depth general interest histories of Texas politics, art, film, music, foodways, architecture, photography, sports, business, books and writers, and theater, as well as perceptions of Texas outside of the state, the African-American experience, a history of the Texas Borderlands, and the Tejano and Tejana experience.
UT Austin President Bill Powers supported the idea of a campus-conceived project: “Texas deserves a comprehensive series of books that explores its history and culture. A collaboration between our esteemed faculty and UT Press is the ideal way to produce The Texas Bookshelf and to share the rich resources of this campus with the rest of the world,” he said.
The Bookshelf will be supported by an interactive website that will facilitate an extended online community. Visitors to the site can access related supplemental content, including audio, video, photography and downloadable readers’ guides, as well as links to rich primary source materials located in the magnificent research archives and special collections on the UT Austin campus. Additionally, a schedule of special programs and public events for the university community and general public will be developed in conjunction with the publication of each book.
UT Game Changers brings The University of Texas at Austin’s intellectual talent beyond the classroom with a half-hour show to be broadcast on The Longhorn Network, along with a Web-only version, above.