Benjamin Johnson

2009 Clements Book Prize winner to speak at SMU Nov. 8, 2012

Louise PubolsLouise Pubols (right), chief curator of history at the Oakland Museum of California, will visit SMU to discuss her award-winning work as an author. The University’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies hosts Pubols for a 6 p.m. reception followed by a 6:30 p.m. lecture Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, in DeGolyer Library.

Pubols won the 2009 Clements Book Prize, presented by the Clements Center, for The Father of All: The De La Guerra Family, Power, and Patriarchy in Mexican California, published by the University of California Press and the Huntington Library.

> SMU Forum: Pubols’ family saga wins 2009 Clements Book Prize

Her work explores the history of the de la Guerras of Santa Barbara, a powerful California family that adapted and thrived through several major economic and political upheavals, including the U.S.-Mexican War. Through the de la Guerras’ political, business and family relationships, Pubols illustrated how patriarchy functioned from generation to generation in Spanish and Mexican California.

Book cover for 'The Father of All' by Louise Pubols

In 2010, SMU Professor of History Ben Johnson hailed the prize-winning book as “gracefully written and deeply researched. Pubols both draws on and contributes to a generation of historical scholarship on the U.S. West and Latin America alike.

“Popular understanding and scholarly arguments alike treat the Mexican North – the area that now constitutes the U.S. states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California – as a sleepy backwater in comparison to the dynamic young United States,” Johnson added. “Pubols’ close study of politics and society in Mexican California really demolishes this view. She shows how Mexican liberalism, unleashed by that young nation’s independence, transformed California’s economy, family life and politics.”

“Using a micro-historical approach – in this case, the story of a single family – Pubols is able to tell a story that is at once both big and small, placing the experiences of the de la Guerras within the wider sweep of events that remade North America during the first half of the 19th century,” says Associate Professor of History and Clements Center Director Andrew Graybill. “The Father of All is a brilliant contribution to the literature on the American Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.”

> Visit SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies online

Pubols’ family saga wins 2009 Clements Book Prize

Louise PubolsLouise Pubols (right), chief curator of history at the Oakland Museum of California, has won SMU’s William P. Clements Book Prize for the best nonfiction book on the Southwest published in 2009. Pubols’ winning entry is The Father of All: The De La Guerra Family, Power, and Patriarchy in Mexican California, published by the University of California Press and the Huntington Library.

Pubols’ work explores the history of the de la Guerras of Santa Barbara, a powerful California family that adapted to economic and political upheavals that included the U.S.-Mexican War. Pubols traces the de la Guerras’ political, business and family relationships to illustrate how patriarchy functioned from generation to generation in Spanish and Mexican California.

The story of this influential extended family opens vistas onto larger debates about patriarchy, Mexican liberalism, intermarriage, and the economic and social transformations of Mexican California, says Benjamin Johnson, professor in SMU’s William P. Clements Department of History in Dedman College and director of its Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

“Popular understanding and scholarly arguments alike treat the Mexican North – the area that now constitutes the U.S. states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California – as sleepy backwaters in comparison to the dynamic young United States. Pubols’ close study of politics and society in Mexican California really demolishes this view,” Johnson says. “She shows how Mexican liberalism, unleashed by that young nation’s independence, transformed California’s economy, family life and politics. Mexican California’s elites were adaptive and clever.”

Book cover for 'The Father of All' by Louise PubolsJohnson hails the prize-winning book as “gracefully written and deeply researched.” Perhaps most impressively, “Pubols both draws on and contributes to a generation of historical scholarship on the U.S. West and Latin America alike,” he adds.

The quality and number of Clements Book Prize entries prompted the judges to name two finalists for the second year in a row, Johnson adds. Those honors went to Katherine Benton-Cohen of Georgetown University for Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard University Press) and Patrick Ettinger of California State University-Sacramento for Imaginary Lines: Border Enforcement and the Origins of Undocumented Immigration, 1882-1930 (University of Texas Press).

Past Clements Book Prize winners have also won awards from the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Western History Association, and Southern Historical Association, as well as the Bancroft Prize awarded by Columbia University.

The deadline for submissions for the 2010 prize is Feb. 5, 2011. For more information, visit the Clements Center website.

Reserve by April 24 for 2009 Godbey Awards luncheon

godbey-authors-awards-2009-300.jpgThree outstanding SMU faculty authors will be honored for books published in 2008 at the 29th annual Godbey Lecture Series Authors’ Award Luncheon. The 2009 ceremony takes place 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 29 in the Umphrey Lee Ballroom.

The price for the luncheon is $17 per person, and the reservation deadline is Friday, April 24. For more information or to reserve a place, contact Deborah Martin in the Godbey Lecture Series office, 214-768-2532.

The Godbey Authors’ Awards are presented by the Godbey Lecture Series in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Honorees are chosen for their outstanding scholarly research, publications and teaching ability. Each receives a prize of $1,000.

The 2009 honorees are:

Eric Barnes, professor of philosophy in Dedman College, for The Paradox of Predictivism (Cambridge University Press)

Seyom Brown, John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair in International Politics and National Security in the Department of Political Science, Dedman College, for Higher Realism: A New Foreign Policy for the United States (Paradigm Publishers)

Benjamin Heber Johnson, associate professor in the William P. Clements Department of History, Dedman College, for Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place (Yale University Press)

For the Record: Feb. 27, 2009

Linda Eads, Dedman School of Law, has received the 2009 Lola Wright Foundation Award from the Texas Bar Foundation. The honor recognizes “outstanding public service in advancing and enhancing legal ethics in Texas,” and recipients are attorneys “to whom professional ethics are paramount.” Past recipients include Berry Crowley, James Holmes III, Lloyd P. Lochridge, Jim Sales, Louise Raggio, Guy Harrison, Richard C. Hile, Justice Douglas S. Lan, and Scott J. Atlas. Eads will receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of her choice.

Mary Spector, Dedman School of Law, has been named a 2009 Bellow Scholar by a committee of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Clinical Education, recognizing her project on the impact of debt collection litigation on consumers and the courts. Bellow Scholar awards are made every two years on the basis of “innovative proposals designed to improve the quality of justice in communities, to enhance the delivery of legal services, and to promote economic and social justice.” Other 2009 Bellow Scholars are from Harvard, Catholic University and the University of Michigan.

Ben Johnson, History, Dedman College, has received the 2008 Ray and Pat Browne Award for the Best Reference/Primary Source Work in Popular and American Culture from the Popular Culture and American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) for his book Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place (Yale University Press). He will accept the award at the PCA/ACA Conference in New Orleans April 10, 2009.

Seven faculty members receive 2008-09 Sam Taylor Fellowships

Seven SMU faculty members have been awarded 2008-09 Sam Taylor Fellowships from the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Sam Taylor Fellowships, funded by income from a portion of Taylor’s estate, award up to $2,000 for full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Any full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for the Fellowships, which support research “advancing the intellectual, social, or religious life of Texas and the nation.” Applications are evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, value of the project to the community or nation, and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.

The winning professors and their projects:

Ben Johnson, History, Dedman College, for a book project on the American environmental reform movement at the turn of the twentieth century.

Mark Kerins, Cinema-Television, Meadows School of the Arts, for transcriptions of interview tapes with film industry professionals, relating to his book project on digital sound production in cinema.

Nia Parson, Anthropology, Dedman College, for research in Chile on domestic violence and governmental systems under a government changing from dictatorship to democracy.

Pamela Patton, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, to acquire photographs for publication in her book on visual imagery of the Christian-Jewish relationship in medieval Spain.

Lisa Pon, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, for research in Rome on the fifteenth-century print Madonna of the Fire, as exemplar of relationships among locations, icons, and collective memory.

Simon Sargon, Music, Meadows School of the Arts, to compose a large-scale orchestral and choral requiem based on early Jewish and Christian texts.

Gabriela Vokic, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Dedman College, for research in Chile on structural position of speech sounds, with Spanish speakers acquiring English as a second language.

For more information on the Fellowships, including application instructions, contact Kathleen Hugley-Cook, director of the University’s Office of National Fellowships and Awards.

Research Spotlight: Beyond borders

'Bordertown' book coverBenjamin Heber Johnson, associate professor of history in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and Dallas physician/photographer Jeffrey Gusky will sign and discuss their new book, Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place, beginning at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

The book, published by Yale University Press, uses the remote town of Roma, Texas, as an example of the larger history of the U.S.-Mexico border and its changing role in the United States. Johnson, who specializes in borderlands research, explores how border residents came to identify themselves as Americans in the United States while continuing to feel powerful kinship with their Mexican heritage. “The United States is not self-contained; to understand our history requires an understanding of our connection with other parts of the world, in this case Mexico,” says Johnson, who also serves as associate director of SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

Johnson and Gusky will present their findings and take questions from 7-8:30 p.m. on the day of the signing. Admission is $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers and $10 for teachers. The Institute is located at 2719 Routh Street in Dallas.

Visit the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Cultures online
Read more about Johnson’s work from the 2008 SMU Research magazine

By | 2008-10-02T13:02:17+00:00 October 2, 2008|Categories: Research|Tags: , , , |

Tune In: Discussing border issues on KERA

'Bordertown' coverLuis Alberto Urrea – author of SMU’s 2008 Common Reading experience, The Devil’s Highway – will be a guest on KERA Radio’s “Think” Sept. 8. Joining him will be SMU History Professor Ben Johnson, author of the new book Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place. The broadcast begins at noon. Listen live from the KERA website.

By | 2008-09-05T13:21:40+00:00 September 5, 2008|Categories: Tune In|Tags: , , , |

Common Reading 2008: Life and death on the border

Book cover of 'The Devil's Highway'In May 2001, 26 Mexican men searching for work in America risked an illegal border crossing in Arizona’s brutal Sonoran Desert. Only 12 survived. Their stories – and those of the people who aided, pursued or betrayed them – are at the center of Luís Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway, SMU’s 2008 Common Reading Experience.

The book deals with controversial political questions such as immigration and border policy even as it forces readers to think about those issues in deeply human ways, says Benjamin Johnson, associate professor of history and author of Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans Into Americans.

“Urrea’s searing writing makes it hard not to identify with the characters, ranging from the migrants and the families they left behind to Mexican consular officials and U.S. border patrol officers,” adds Johnson, who proposed the book for Common Reading. “It blends masterful writing, moral sensitivity and deep empirical research – and thus demonstrates some of the capabilities higher education can help to instill.”

>> Students “may find more in common than they realize” with book’s subjects

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By | 2012-01-23T13:18:12+00:00 August 22, 2008|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |

Common Reading committee seeks suggestions

With the fifth anniversary of SMU’s Common Reading Experience approaching in 2008-09, the Common Reading Selection Committee is looking for the book (or play, or monograph) that the class of 2012 will discuss as part of their introduction to college-level reading. The SMU and Dallas communities, including alumni and nonprofit leaders, gathered to discuss the 2007-08 Common Reading, Nick Hornby’s How to Be Good, in the Hughes-Trigg Theater Aug. 30. Read more.

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Woodward honored at Fall General Faculty Meeting

Statistical Science Chair Wayne Woodward was honored as the 2006-07 United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year at SMU’s fall General Faculty Meeting Aug. 29. President R. Gerald Turner updated the faculty on important developments in campus life and the status of the George W. Bush presidential library complex. More under the link.

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