In June 2017, Humanities Texas partnered with the Center for the Study of the Southwest and the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University and the Center for Public History at the University of Houston to hold two teacher institutes focused on the Texas literary tradition.
Each institute focused on topics and skills central to the state's eleventh-grade English Language Arts curriculum. Topics addressed included the regional literary traditions that have shaped Texas writing; teaching Texas fiction, poetry, memoir, and journalism; and how Texas has been portrayed in not only literature but also visual art, music, television, and film.
As in past years, the institutes emphasized close interaction with scholars and writers and the examination of primary texts. Faculty presentations provided resources and strategies for helping students to become better readers of fiction, poetry, and expository prose, while also addressing the critical reading skills necessary for success at the post-secondary level.
National Book Award finalist John Phillip Santos (The University of Texas at San Antonio) delivered the keynote presentation at the San Marcos institute. The keynote speaker at the Houston institute was Nicolás Kanellos, founder and director of Arte Público Press and director of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage of the United States program at the University of Houston.
The San Marcos institute faculty included Steve Davis and Jason Mellard of Texas State University; Adriane Bezusko, John Morán González, and Coleman Hutchison of The University of Texas at Austin; Norma Cantú (Trinity University); Cary Clack (formerly of the San Antonio Express-News); Nan Cuba (Our Lady of the Lake University); Alison Macor; Emmy Pérez (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley); and Ron Tyler (formerly of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art). Distinguished writers Elizabeth Crook and Stephen Harrigan also participated in the program, reading from their works and discussing the craft of writing.
The Houston institute faculty featured Adriane Bezusko, Don Graham, and Coleman Hutchison of The University of Texas at Austin; Jan Jarboe Russell (Texas Monthly); Ron Tyler (formerly of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art); Emmy Pérez (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley); Roger Wood (Houston Community College); Steve Davis (Texas State University); Nan Cuba (Our Lady of the Lake University); Javier Rodríguez (University of North Texas); and Mariá C. González (University of Houston). Pérez and Gwendolyn Zepeda, Houston's first poet laureate, read from and discussed their work with teachers at an event hosted by Arte Público Press.
The San Marcos institute took place on the Texas State campus from June 6–9, 2017. The Houston institute took place on the UH campus two weeks later, from June 20–23, 2017.
The institute was made possible with major funding from the State of Texas, with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.