faculty books

First Impressions, lasting impact: Literary partnership completes an unfinished journey

David J. Weber

David J. Weber

When SMU historian David J. Weber died in 2010, he left behind an unfinished manuscript that would have represented a creative departure from his many academic works. One of the most distinguished and productive scholars of the American Southwest, Weber envisioned his next book, First Impressions: A Reader’s Journey to Iconic Places of the Southwest, as a new perspective on some of the Southwest’s most distinctive sites.

More than a typical travelogue, the book would bring the reader into the minds of explorers, missionaries, and travelers as they encountered and then wrote about memorable places both manmade and naturally formed, becoming the first non-natives to do so. From impressions of 15 sites in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado, readers would gain present-day as well as historical perspectives.  The destinations would range from the gracefully sculpted rock formations of Canyon de Chelly, to the mesa fortress of Acoma Pueblo, to the conflict-ridden village of Santa Fe, described by an 18th century Franciscan as, “A rough stone set in fine metal,” referring to, “The very beautiful plain on which it sits.”

But first the journey of the unfinished manuscript would have to continue. David’s widow, Carol Weber, who had served consistently as the final reviewer of all of David’s manuscripts, knew that this project deserved a place in her husband’s legacy of eloquent and inspired scholarship. As she considered who might complete the manuscript, Carol turned to their friend, author William deBuys. Like David, Bill had received a shower of honors for his creative and scholarly works. In addition, Bill had earned the distinction of being a fellow of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, founded in 1996 by David at SMU, where he taught for 34 years.

William deBuys

William deBuys

Over a number of these years, David and Bill grew in admiration of each other’s work. David had revolutionized contemporary understanding of borderlands history. Bill had earned a national reputation for his analyses of environmental issues threatening the Southwest. They also grew as friends sharing a deep affection for the region, its people and places. “For both of us, the Southwest has been a source of lifelong fascination, and through the vehicle of this book we hope to share it,” Bill writes in the preface of First Impressions, published by Yale University Press in August.

The production of First Impressions required some highly focused sleuthing and sifting through a bounty of materials in the three offices of David Weber – in SMU’s History Department and at the family’s homes in Dallas and in New Mexico’s Zuni Mountains, near the monumental El Morro, or Inscription Rock, so called because it bears the signatures of early explorers etched into its sandstone façade. Each of David’s offices was filled to capacity with books, research notes, correspondence, manuscripts, drafts, and computers holding the contents of David’s prolific research and writing. Carol found a hard copy of David’s table of contents and a number of chapters in different states of completion. She and Bill worked with Center for Southwest Studies staff, especially Ruth Ann Elmore, to download and decipher David’s computer files.

The Center had awarded Bill a second fellowship to work on the project.

“I chose Bill because I knew he was a sensitive and wonderful writer, and David felt the same way about him,” Carol said. “I couldn’t imagine any other historian finishing David’s work in a way that would have pleased David because it would be so beautifully written.”

'First Impressions' book coverIn the preface to First Impressions, Bill recalls cherished conversations with David about “the general business of making good sentences, paragraphs, and pages. David was a naturally gifted writer.”

Aside from representing his admiration for David, Bill said he took on the project because he “thought the concept of the book was brilliant and offered a truly exciting and informative way to explore the great places of the region. David, ever the professor, had a wonderful pedagogical purpose: He wanted to present primary sources — original historical documents and images — to people who otherwise might be unlikely to encounter them. In this I completely concurred. It is a form of stealth teaching — and wonderful fun at the same time.”

The result of their literary partnership is a book that seamlessly combines the poetry and precision of both writers. Bill’s numerous books include River of Traps: A New Mexico Mountain Life, a finalist for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize in 1991; Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range; A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest; and The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of the Earth’s Rarest Creatures. In September 2017 he is receiving the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, for outstanding writing and literature.

David’s works include 27 books, many of them recognized as path-breaking in the field by such organizations as the American Historical Association. The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest Under Mexico itself won six awards. Two governments gave David the highest honor they can bestow on foreigners. King Juan Carlos of Spain named him to the Real Orden de Isabel la Católica, the Spanish equivalent of a knighthood. Mexico named him to the Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca (the Order of the Aztec Eagle). He was one of a few U.S. historians elected to the Mexican Academy of History. Closer to home, in 2007 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Upon release of First Impressions, Carol told Bill: “It was my love for David that prompted me to ask you if you would finish the book, and it was such an act of love for David, I think, that you willingly took so much time out of your life to finish it for David and our family.  Somehow David’s life now seems complete.”

Complete – but not finished. Now, First Impressions, with William deBuys, adds to the lasting legacy of David J. Weber and the rich literary resources of their beloved Southwest.

— Written by Patricia LaSalle-Hopkins

SMU books: Great holiday reads for 2016

Still shopping for the holidays? Complete your gift list with books published in 2016 by the SMU community, including faculty, staff members, trustees, alumni, libraries and museum.

From history to art to science to the Southwest, this year’s compilation by SMU News’ Cherri Gann has selections to please readers of poetry, personal and spiritual enrichment, young adult fiction and celebrity memoir. There’s a southern-themed cookbook for foodies, an uproarious card game based on the language of the Bard, and an arty crime caper filled with mystery and intrigue.

Some selections are available at the SMU bookstore, but all are available via online booksellers unless otherwise noted. Authors are listed alphabetically.

> Find the full list at SMU News

Attention authors: Tell SMU News about your new books published in 2016

Faculty, staff, students and alumni: Did you publish a general-interest book in 2016? SMU News is seeking information on your publications for possible inclusion in its end-of-year holiday book list.

Please complete this brief web form to submit your book information, and send a high-resolution electronic cover image to the SMU Books e-mail address. Please include in the web form a web address where News and Communications can find more information.

Questions? Contact book list editor Cherri Gann, 214-768-7657. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

New book edited by SMU faculty member Noah Simblist examines artistic response to historical trauma

'Places of a Present Past' edited by SMU Art Chair Noah Simblist, book coverA new book edited by SMU Art Chair Noah Simblist will have its official launch at the 2015 New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, Sept. 18-20.

Places of a Present Past brings together three exhibitions, all showcasing the work of international video artists, that were presented at the Meadows School of the Arts’ Pollock Gallery in 2014. All of them were curated by Simblist and the Pollock Gallery’s 2014 curatorial fellow, Sally Frater. Each shared a common theme: addressing the traces of trauma on particular sites and paying close attention to the lasting impacts of war.

The exhibitions explored in the book include Jin-me Yoon’s Extended Temporalities, which invoked the colonial relationship between Japan and Korea in the first half of the 20th century; the group show Where Are You From?, which included artworks by Aissa Deebi, Kamal Aljafari and Dor Guez recounting the story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; and the Sarah Morris film 1972, alluding to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, during which 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group, pointing to the legacy of the Holocaust in Germany and beyond.

SMU Art Chair Noah Simblist

Noah Simblist, chair of SMU’s Division of Art

“The artworks in the book are bound together by a historiographical impulse,” said Simblist, chair and associate professor of art in the Meadows School. “In some sense, these artists act as historians. However, they are less interested in the truth than the way we feel through the legacies of past traumas. They reveal the oblique ways that we repress historical trauma, burying it in the very sites of their origin. Places of a Present Past is filled with an archaeological ethic, metaphorically digging down, both spatially and psychologically, into the depths of transnational grief.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Attention authors: Tell SMU News about your new books

loving-u-book-cover-150Faculty, staff, students and alumni: Did you publish a general-interest book in 2014? SMU News is seeking information on your publications for possible inclusion in its end-of-year holiday book list.

Director of Online Communications Gary Shultz has made it easy: Just fill out this web form and click. Include your name and title, e-mail address, the title of your new book, month and year of its publication, and a brief description. Please include a web address where News and Communications can find more information. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.

After you send in your information, please email a high-resolution copy of your book cover to SMU Books.

Calendar Highlights: Sept. 17, 2014

BwjF4ZXCEAAqvAlRonald Reagan and the Struggle Over Apartheid: As part of the Presidential Forum lecture series, the SMU Center for Presidential History presents “Ronald Reagan and the Struggle Over Apartheid.” Co-sponsored by the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute’s Seminar “Global Africa: Between Intervention and Engagement,” the event will feature a discussion between two distinguished guests: Rozell W. “Prexy” Nesbitt and Piero Gleijeses. The event will take place Wednesday, Sept. 17 from 5-7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. Register for the forum online.

Professor Emeritus Darwin Payne Book Signing: DeGolyer Library and Friends of the SMU Libraries presents Professor Emeritus Darwin Payne and his new book, No Small Dreams: J. Erik Jonsson – Texas Visionary. Payne shares the biography of J. Erik Jonsson, the industrialist who led Texas Instruments during its rise to become one of the nation’s leading electronics firms. The event will take place Thursday, Sept. 18, 6 p.m. in DeGolyer Library. For additional information or to RSVP, e-mail DeGolyer Library.

Economics Seminar Series: The Department of Economics presents Denis Nekipelov from the Departments of Economics and Computer Science at the University of Virginia. Dr. Nekipelov will share his recent work on advertising Friday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m. in 303 Umphrey Lee. For more information about the seminar series, click here.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.25.52 AM Happiness Symposia: Continuing its two-month series on “Happiness: What Makes you Smile?,” the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute presents Peter Huang from the University of Colorado Law School Friday, Sept. 19. Dr. Huang will share how happiness research can inform legal policy, as well as improve legal education and practice. The event will take place in McCord Auditorium at 5 p.m. For more information, e-mail Elizabeth Fielding.

Friday Night Stampede: Celebrate the 100th season of SMU Athletics and the first home football game by joining SMU for a special Friday Night Stampede on Sept. 19. Put on your red spirit attire and head out for the dedication of the new Mustang Band Hall at 7 p.m. Stick around for a block party starting at 7:30 p.m. on Mustang Mall. Then at 8:30 p.m. enjoy a Mustang Band concert and pep rally Doak Walker Plaza. For more information, visit the SMU Stampede homepage.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Book Signing: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand presents Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World Sunday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Theater. Off the Sidelines is New York Senator Gillibrand’s call to action encouraging every woman and girl to make their voice heard on issues they care about. This event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase.

World Peace Day: Celebrate World Peace Day with live music, poetry, food and special guest speakers from Human Rights Initiative, Dallas Peace Center, and other local organizations. The event will take place Sunday, Sept. 21, 4-7 p.m. on the Quad in front of Dallas HallFor more information, e-mail Amber Jackson.

Three SMU history scholars receive 2013-14 book prizes

Three SMU history scholars recently won prestigious awards for books honed during their time at the University.

“These recognitions confirm that the Clements Department of History – through its graduate program and research institute ­– continues to lead the way in producing first-rate scholarship on Texas, the American Southwest, and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands,” says Andrew Graybill, associate professor and director of SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

Raul CoronadoRaúl Coronado’s book A World Not to Come: A History of Latino Writing and Print Culture (Harvard University Press, 2013) won the Texas State Historical Association’s Kate Broocks Bates Award for Best Historical Research and second prize from the Texas Institute of Letters’ Ramirez Prize for Best Scholarly Book. Coronado completed his Ph.D. in modern thought and literature in 2004 at Stanford University. He was a William P. Clements Fellow in 2009-10 and is associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California-Berkeley.

Jason MellardJason Mellard’s Progressive Country: How the 1970s Transformed the Texan in Popular Culture (University of Texas Press, 2013) won the Texas State Historical Association’s 2013 Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for Best Book on Texas History. He completed his Ph.D. in American studies at the University of Texas-Austin in 2009 and was a 2010-11 Clements Fellow. He is currently the assistant director at the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Alicia DeweyPh.D. graduate Alicia Dewey won the Robert A. Calvert Book Prize for the best manuscript on the history of the American South, West or Southwest submitted in 2013 to Texas A&M University Press. Her book, Pesos and Dollars: Entrepreneurs in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands, 1880-1940, is scheduled for publication in summer 2014. Dewey earned her Ph.D in history at SMU in 2007 and is currently an associate professor of history at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

Established in fall 1996, the Clements Center in SMU’s Dedman College is internationally known as an incubator for research and writing and an organizer of public programming, all related to the American Southwest.

The center annually provides post-doctoral fellowships for scholars studying the American Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, allowing them to focus on additional research and to further develop manuscripts, leading to publication by prestigious presses in cooperation with the Center.

Fellowships to emerging and senior scholars have resulted in 38 books published by 17 major university presses. Nine more Clements Center Fellows have publications forthcoming.

Written by Devean Owens ’14

> Read more from SMU News

Pamela Patton wins 2014 Eleanor Tufts Book Award

Pamela Patton, Chair, Division of Art History, SMU Meadows School of the ArtsPamela Patton, associate professor and chair of art history SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, has won the 2014 Eleanor Tufts Book Award from the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies. Her 2013 book, Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain, was the unanimous choice for the national honor.

The Tufts Award was established in memory of noted Spanish art expert Eleanor Tufts, who taught at SMU from 1974 until her passing in 1991. The award honors a distinguished book, written in English, on the history of art or architecture in Iberia.

Book cover, 'Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain' by Pamela PattonThe judging committee wrote, “Patton’s engaging text examines the varied meanings of representations of Jews in the visual culture of the Reconquista. Original in its conception and compelling in its arguments, this book traces the ways in which the image of Spain’s Jews as ‘the other’ was transfigured by the cultural, political and religious agendas of its Christian rulers.… This publication met and surpassed the stipulated award criteria of ‘originality of conception, thoroughness of research, rigor of argument, brilliance of insight, significance of findings, and clarity of expression.’

“In sum, the book’s broad scope of inquiry and sophisticated interdisciplinary approach that draws on history, religion, and cultural studies make a significant and original contribution to the study of medieval Spanish art and Iberian studies as a whole. Its lucid and elegant prose made it a pleasure to read.”

Patton said she was greatly honored by the award, especially because she has a personal connection to Eleanor Tufts. “Just before she passed away, she was part of the committee that brought me to SMU as a Haakon Pre-Doctoral Fellow,” said Patton. “When I was subsequently hired as faculty, I took on several of her courses. So it’s a lovely bit of karma for me.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Meadows dean receives national award from Association of American Colleges and Universities

Jose Antonio Bowen, dean, Meadows School of the Arts at SMUThe Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has announced that José Antonio Bowen, dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, is the winner of the national 2014 Frederic W. Ness Book Award for Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, published in 2012 by Jossey-Bass.

The Ness Award is given to a book that best illuminates the goals and practices of a contemporary liberal education. The award was  presented to Bowen at AAC&U’s annual meeting last week in Washington, D.C.

In Teaching Naked, Bowen explores how technology can be most powerfully used outside the classroom rather than as a substitute for traditional classroom learning. Among other things, Bowen discusses particular approaches to using technology to improve learning outcomes and ensure that students arrive to class more prepared for meaningful interaction with faculty.

Book cover of 'Teaching Naked' by Jose Antonio BowenThis year’s Ness Award winner was selected by a committee of higher education leaders including Dianne Harrison (chair), president, California State University-Northridge; Jim Collins, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and Environment, Arizona State University; and Marc Roy, provost, Goucher College.

“José Bowen’s work is both compelling and useful,” said Dianne Harrison, “and it also is very cognizant of the ideals and values of liberal education.”

The Ness Book Award was established by AAC&U in 1979 to honor AAC&U’s president emeritus, Frederic W. Ness. Recent winners include Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession by Dr. Anne Colby, Thomas Ehrlich, Dr. William Sullivan, and Dr. Jonathan R. Dolle; Why Choose the Liberal Arts? by Mark W. Roche; Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education by Peter Sacks; Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More by Derek Bok; Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money by James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield; Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi; Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past by Sam Wineburg; and Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education by Martha Nussbaum.

> Visit José Bowen’s website, TeachingNaked.com

Help create SMU’s 2013 holiday book list

'Sweet On Texas' bookcover

“Sweet On Texas” by SMU staff member Denise Gee was part of the University’s 2012 holiday book list. The Office of News and Communications has created a new online entry form for 2013 submissions.

Attention all authors: The SMU Office of News and Communications wants your book news. And for 2013, it’s easier than ever to send it in.

Faculty and staff authors are asked to submit information on their general-interest books – no text books, please – published in 2013 or scheduled to be published before the year’s end. All entries will be considered for SMU’s holiday gift-giving book list, posted annually to the University home page.

This year, SMU News and Communications has created an easy-to-use template for authors to provide all necessary information about their latest books. Please use the template at smu.edu/News/Books and send a cover image from your book to smunews@smu.edu. The deadline is Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.

By | 2013-12-11T10:40:54+00:00 November 13, 2013|Categories: News, Save the Date|Tags: , , , , , |
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