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Views From The Hill

Views from the Hill: History, Myth, and Memory in Texas


Old MainOver the years, the Department of History at Texas State University, formerly Southwest Texas State University, has produced a distinguished number of alumni who went on to obtain the PhD degree and to make valuable contributions to the historical profession. Seven of these alumni who work in the field of Texas history will come together to share their post-Texas State experiences with current graduate students and their research with attendees to the symposium, which is open to the public.

The symposium theme, “History, Myth, and Memory in Texas,” explores the importance of common cultural assumptions, in the case of Texas assumptions closely tied to the state’s history, which give its residents a sense of belonging and identity. Dallas intellectual and humanist Louise Cowan has noted that "myth is a moral, organizing force in a society and provides that society's members with security and purpose." Beyond this reality, however, the role of myth can be much more complex. It permits a people to understand their world and find common identification with it. It provides within that context an historical commonality for a people and reduces their group experience into "a constellation of compelling metaphors." Such myths, often based on how events are selected for group remembrance and commemoration are often referred to as collective memory.

Recently there has been interest in not only the continuing history of the Lone Star state, but how Texans comprehend and remember that history.  A growing number of scholarly books and articles have addressed ways in which myth and collective memory have either shaped or detracted from our understanding of history and the formation of a Texas identity. The project organizers intend that the symposium and resulting book will be a contribution to this emerging field of Texas history.