The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 134
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Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
Not all of the essays, however, are as well informed or as free from
jargon as Wilson's. The essay juxtaposed to his, titled "Foodways, Geog-
raphy of," is replete with obvious information (south Florida has Cuban
food, south Texas, Mexican) presented in a self-consciously academic
style (the "grammars" of barbeque preparation are discussed.) A more
fundamental problem is present in the seeming emphasis on material
culture and the folk arts at the expense of the fine arts. Balance is no-
ticeably lacking in the subject category Art and Architecture. I was
looking forward to reading an entry on the masterful ceramic creations
produced at Newcomb College in New Orleans between the turn of the
century and the 193os, and those of George Ohr, the "mad potter of
Biloxi," now recognized as one of the great ceramic artists of the twen-
tieth century, and a world-class eccentric. Remarkably, there is no entry
for either, and southern decorative arts after the Civil War are dis-
missed in one sentence by Thomas Dewey of the University of Missis-
sippi. The important folk potter Lanier Meaders is given a generous
entry, as is the folk painter, Theora Hamblett; unfortunately missing in
action are two of the most important living American painters, South
Carolina's Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenburg, of Port Arthur,
A parlor game can be played as a result of one of the editorial deci-
sions, that to limit individual biographical entries to 250. The editors
say that the list was limited to "iconic individuals associated with a par-
ticular aspect of the region's culture." The decision to have represen-
tative figures individually profiled, while others are listed in more gen-
eral essays, leads to endless speculation and list making. Is Herschel
Walker more iconic as the region's premier symbol of the acceptance of
the black college football player, than are Earl Campbell, who preceded
him as Heisman Trophy winner, or Bo Jackson, who followed? Perhaps
in Athens, but not, I dare say, in Austin or Auburn. Categories such as
music are full of important southern names, to be sure, but a decision
to not individually profile seminal figures such as bluesmen Elmore
James and Sonny Boy Williamson, or widely influential figures such as
Slim Harpo or Jimmy Reed, while including former Lawrence Welk
band member Pete Fountain must have been difficult.
Given the essay approach to the encyclopedia, a thorough index is
needed to bring the book together as a reference work. Unfortunately,
the hundred-page index prepared by the editors was cut to thirty-three
pages given the exigencies of printing and binding. The one-volume
encyclopedia is an appealing form: everything you need to know in one
book. Whether subsequent editions will be expanded in format, or a
tighter editorial hand exercised, the question of access to the riches in
this invaluable book must be addressed. The book is alive and fascinat-
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/158/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.