Since our founding in 1973, Humanities Texas has published a number of books by Texas scholars and writers that provide interdisciplinary perspectives on pressing subjects across history, philosophy, literature, anthropology, and other fields. This month, we've compiled a selection of notable publications by Humanities Texas over the past fifty years.

If you're interested in purchasing a copy of one of the books below, please contact staff at for pricing and purchase instructions. All books will also be on sale at the Humanities Texas Holiday Book Fair on December 9, 2023. Friends of Humanities Texas receive an additional 25% percent discount on book purchases.

The Biographer's Gift: Life Histories and Humanism (1983)

Edited by James F. Veninga

In 1982, the Texas Committee for the Humanities (TCH)—as Humanities Texas was known from 1978 to 1996—devoted the annual Texas Lecture and Institute on the Humanities to the study of biography. The Biographer's Gift: Life Histories and Humanism, edited by former TCH Executive Director James F. Veninga, is the culmination of that program. The publication includes chapters based on lectures and presentations by leading biographers Robert H. Abzug, Stephen B. Oates, Ronald Steel, Jean Strouse, Frank Vandiver, and scholars James F. Veninga and Steven Weiland. The Biographer's Gift aims to answer fundamental questions about the nature of biography, its uses, and the insight we can gain by reading it. The contributing scholars offer differing approaches to and perspectives on biography, but they all agree on the central point raised by Vandiver—that biography at its best "brings a touch of humanity from the past and can, if deftly done, offer a glimpse of humanity in microcosm."

The Biographer’s Gift: Life Histories and Humanism. Edited by James F. Veninga. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983.

Vietnam in Remission (1985)

Edited by James F. Veninga with Harry Wilmer

Composed of essays originating from the symposium "Understanding Vietnam" in Salado, Texas, in 1982, this volume explores both the context of the war and its long-term consequences on American life and politics. Contributors include noted American poet (and anti-war activist), Robert Bly; a seasoned war correspondent, Philip L. Geyelin; a prominent historian, George C. Herring; a general who fought in the war and later became chief of military history for the U.S. Army, Douglas Kinnard; a presidential advisor, Walt W. Rostow; and a psychiatrist who studied the nightmares of Vietnam veterans, Harry A. Wilmer. Unique in its juxtaposition of conflicting political positionalities, Vietnam in Remission encourages thoughtful dialogue on a fraught period in our history and moves us closer to healing from a national trauma.

Vietnam in Remission. Edited by James F. Veninga and Harry A. Wilmer. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1985.

Texas Myths (1986)

Edited by Robert O'Connor

"The challenge of the present time," James F. Veninga writes in the epilogue to Texas Myths, "is that of forging a shared culture from the multiple, sometimes conflicting, histories and traditions that have flourished in Texas." From myths of the Alamo and Davy Crockett to those sung in border ballads and passed down from Native peoples who have lived here since before colonization, myths offer an important basis for understanding Texas history and tradition. Authors appearing in this collection include Veninga, Richard Bauman, Louise Cowan, Gilbert M. Cuthbertson, Robin Doughty, Elizabeth York Enstam, T. R. Fehrenbach, William H. Goetzmann, Nicholas Lemann, Sandra L. Myres, William W. Newcomb Jr., Juan A. Ortega y Medina, C. W. Smith, and Sterling Stuckey. These authors explore how Texas stories are used to interpret and shape history and provide a framework for reconciling decades-old myths of conquest with modern understandings of history.

Texas Myths. Edited by Robert F. O'Connor. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986.

The Texas Experience (1986)

Compiled by Archie P. McDonald

This multidisciplinary book chronicles key events, places, and people in the story of Texas. Compiled by Archie P. McDonald, past president of the Texas State Historical Association, eighty-four photographs and paintings accompany passages composed by more than fifty authorities on Texas subjects in this celebration of the diverse Lone Star experience. "Just as the individual pieces of a quilt, when sewn together, form a unified pattern," Robert O'Connor writes in his foreword, "so too these individual vignettes taken together present a broad picture of the state's history."

The Texas Experience. Compiled by Archie P. McDonald. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986.

Preparing for Texas in the 21st Century: Building a Future for the Children of Texas (1990)

Edited by James F. Veninga and Catherine Williams.

In 1987, concerns over shrinking revenues and limited resources inspired TCH to initiate the three-part Texas in the 21st Century project to direct Texans' attention toward possibilities for our collective future. The first part of the project established study groups on topics selected by TCH at seven universities across the state and culminated in a conference on the future of education in Texas in November 1988. Drawn from the work of the scholars who participated in the study groups and conference, this five-part collection addresses key themes about the past, present, and future of our state: the need for community; the need to reassess how history is taught and written; the need to broaden public understanding of major issues facing Texas; the increasing influence of globalization on Texas; and the development of public schools that can prepare citizens for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Preparing for Texas in the 21st Century: Building a Future for the Children of Texas. Edited by James F. Veninga and Catherine Williams. Austin: Texas Committee for the Humanities, 1990.

The Humanities and the Civic Imagination: Collected Addresses and Essays (1999)

James F. Veninga

This wide-ranging collection of essays by James F. Veninga reflects upon the work of the state humanities council in the public life of Texas and the nation. Veninga writes in the preface, "my goal is to make available pertinent essays that explore the intellectual underpinnings of the enterprise, that demonstrate engagement with the challenges along the way, and that show how one state council has sought to nourish and enhance the nation's civic life. . . . My own reflection on this volume . . . leads me to three basic points. First, the humanities are for everyone, providing tools for self-understanding, discovery, discernment, and growth. Second, the humanities, while documenting and interpreting the past, are inherently forward-looking, helping us to envision the future. Third, state humanities councils, which evidence the American talent for creating new structures to meet identified needs, are part of a much bigger experiment, that of American democracy itself."

James F. Veninga, The Humanities and the Civic Imagination: Collected Addresses and Essays, 1978—1998. Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1999.

Conversations with Texas Writers (2005)

Edited by Frances Leonard and Ramona Cearley

Larry McMurtry declares, "Texas itself doesn't have anything to do with why I write. It never did." Horton Foote, on the other hand, says, "I've just never had a desire to write about any place else." In between, there are hundreds of other writers—some internationally recognized, others just becoming known—who draw inspiration and often subject matter from the unique places and people of Texas. To provide a representative sampling of the breadth and vitality of the state's literary production, this volume features conversations with fifty Texas writers. The writers speak of their apprenticeships, literary influences, working habits, and even the events that have shaped their writing. Accompanying the interviews are excerpts from the writers' work, as well as photographs, biographies, and bibliographies. Joe Holley's introductory essay—an overview of Texas writing from Cabeza de Vaca's 1542 Relación to the early twenty-first century—provides context to appreciate such a diverse collection of literary voices.

Conversations with Texas Writers. Edited by Frances Leonard and Ramona Cearley. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.