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Division of Campus and Community Engagement

Division of Campus and Community Engagement

IE’s Interpreting the Texas Past Project

The project in “Interpreting the Texas Past” (ITP) was developed by Dr. Martha Norkunas in collaboration with the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program (IE) in 1999. ITP is a partnership of The University of Texas (the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Communications, and the Information School) several Texas foundations, and a multitude of community organizations, providing interdisciplinary and community-based education to students in over a dozen disciplines via the IE philosophy and platform.

The program, which focuses on graduate student training and research around a case study site of public interest, encourages interdisciplinary study and integrates theoretical and applied knowledge–the core values of IE. Combining graduate seminars with internships (cross-listed in departments housed in three separate UT colleges), the program allows graduate students in a variety of fields to do projects in Texas communities, as well as to develop professional skills such as proposal development, organizing a community based oral history project, and creating documentary films and exhibits.

The ITP initiative exemplifies the principle of venture philanthropy applied to scholarly endeavors: For every dollar of institutional funding, the program generates nearly five dollars of investment from external foundations and agencies–including Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Houston Endowment, the Sumerlee Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Roger Davis Gatchet, assistant professor of communication at Eastern New Mexico University and volunteer oral historian with ITP, recently had an article published in the Oral History Review.

Abstract: This essay draws on the author’s oral history work in the African American blues community in Austin, Texas, in order to examine how professional blues artists there understand and negotiate the concept of authenticity. More to the point, this essay explores the ways in which the narrators use the category of authenticity as a way to articulate their own identity. Through a close textual analysis of the interviews, it demonstrates how race, class, and lived experience are intimately tied to notions of authenticity in the blues and locates the ambiguity inherent in the narrators’ discourse at the center of a larger cultural struggle for empowerment and recognition in this historically marginalized community. Two songs by the musicians featured in this essay follow after the conclusion. Listening to these requires a means of accessing the audio files through hyperlinks. See “Instructions for Multimedia Reading of the OHR,” which follows the Editor’s Introduction at the front of the journal, for further explanation on how to access this article online.

Gatchet, R.D. (2012). “I’ve got some antique in me”: The discourse of authenticity and identity in the African American blues community in Austin, Texas. Oral History Review, 39(2), 207-229.