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In Focus: 2/04/2011

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Top News

SOUTHWESTERN ENGLISH PROFESSORS ARE RECOVERING THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY

Williamson County is not a place people typically associate with slavery. After all, there are no large plantations and the major Civil War battles were fought hundreds of miles away.  

But slavery did exist in the county, just as it did in other parts of Texas. According to one local source, there were 1,074 slaves in Williamson County from 1837-1864. Most were domestic servants.  

Mention of these slaves is excluded from most history books and local communities do not actively grapple with the legacy of slavery. In Georgetown, for example, the historical marker at the town’s oldest cemetery makes no reference to a portion of the cemetery devoted to slaves and their descendents.  

“Even Southwestern University has secrets regarding slavery,” said Carina Evans, assistant professor of English, noting that that one of the school’s founding institutions, McKenzie College, was supported by slave labor and a plantation economy.  

Evans is one of two English professors from Southwestern are trying to “recover” the hidden history of slavery in Texas through their research and a new course they are offering this spring.  

Read more here.

ESTHER WEIR RECEIVES SOUTHWESTERN’S 2011 COLLEGE TOWN AWARD     

Longtime Georgetown resident Esther Weir was selected to receive Southwestern University’s sixth annual Martha Diaz Hurtado College Town Award.

The award was created in 2006 to recognize citizens, organizations or businesses whose exemplary efforts have enhanced the “college town” environment for students, faculty and staff at Southwestern. Previous recipients of the award include the Williamson County Sun, the Downtown Georgetown Association, former mayor Gary Nelon and Chamber of Commerce President Mel Pendland, Dr. Doug Benold and Ellsworth Peterson.

Weir received the award Jan. 28 during the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.

Read more here.

Events

RELIGION PROFESSOR DOING LOCAL BOOK SIGNINGS THIS MONTH

Religion Professor Hobgood-Oster is doing two local signings of her new book this month. On Saturday, Feb. 5, she will be at Book People in Austin beginning at 6 p.m. and on Saturday, Feb. 12, she will be at Barnes and Noble in Round Rock from 2-4 p.m. For details on the Feb. 5 event, visit here.

Hobgood’s latest book, The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity’s Compassion for Animals, addresses some of the most important contemporary issues involving animals: animals as food, animals in sport, animals as companions, and endangered species. It also places animal-human relationships in the history of Christianity by using biblical texts that help frame the topic and stories about saints who helped animals through the centuries.

AUTHORS TO SPEAK AT SOUTHWESTERN FEB. 5 FOR EVENT CELEBRATING J. FRANK DOBIE

Two noted authors will speak at Southwestern on Saturday, Feb. 5, as part of a celebration honoring one of the university’s most famous graduates – J. Frank Dobie.

The 2010-2011 academic year marks the 100th anniversary of J. Frank Dobie’s graduation from Southwestern. Southwestern will honor Dobie Feb. 5 by presenting lectures by Steven L. Davis, author of the 2009 book, J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind, and Austin writer Sarah Bird. The lecture by Davis will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the atrium of Mood Hall and will be followed by a book signing. Bird’s lecture will begin at 11 a.m.

The events are being held as part of the university’s 2011 Charter Day celebration. The charter of Rutersville College, the first of the four root colleges whose charters were amalgamated to form Southwestern University in 1875, was signed by the President of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, on Feb. 5, 1840. 

Read more here.  

ANTHROPOLOGY PROFESSOR TO SPEAK AT FEB. 9 SALON AT WILDFIRE

Melissa Johnson, associate professor of anthropology at Southwestern, will be the featured speaker for the Feb. 9 Salon at Wildfire sponsored by the Williamson Museum. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the back room of Wildfire Restaurant, 812 S. Austin Ave.

Johnson will speak about the environmental history of the San Gabriel River.

GUEST ARTIST TO GIVE GUITAR CONCERT FEB. 13

Guitarist Richard Savino will give a guest recital on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 3 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater.

The program will include Baroque works by Giovanni Batista Granata, Ludovico Roncalli, Gaspar Sanz and Santiago de Murcia as well as Early Classic works by Juan Antonio Vargas y Guzman, Mauro Giuliani and Ferdinando Carulli.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call 512-863-1504.

Media Coverage

The Austin American-Statesman did a story on Southwestern’s decision to keep its name. Read the story here. The story was picked up by several other media outlets, including University Business.

Inside Higher Ed did its own story on the name decision. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun did a story on Esther Weir receiving Southwestern’s 2011 College Town Award and a story on the upcoming Brown Symposium.

Notables

Bob Bednar, associate professor of communication studies, presented a paper titled “Materializing Memory: Space, Memory, and Transference at Roadside Car Crash Shrines” at the International Contained Memory Conference at the Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand, on Dec. 10, 2010.

Rick McKelvey, vice president for institutional advancement, is going to Perth, Australia, this month as the team leader for an exchange program sponsored by the Rotary Foundation. Team leader positions are competitive and are selected through an extensive interview process. McKelvey was a member of a Rotary Exchange Team that went to eastern India in 1980.

Mary Young, professor of economics, gave a talk last week at the meeting of the National Texas Organic Producers & Farmers Association held in Killeen. Her talk was on Irish Dexter Cattle and their suitability for grass-fed beef.