Interpreting the Texas Past

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. Graduate students apply themselves to the myriad issues surrounding interpretations of the past and the education of a broad public through close study of and interaction with museums, historic sites and community organizations.

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. These grants support the work of graduate students in the arts, social sciences and humanities, yielding outcomes that benefit both academe and society and triggering additional external investments.

IE African American Oral History Project Featured in the Austin American-Statesman
August, 2010

IE Oral History, Identity and Diversity Project Featured in the Daily Texan,
October 24, 2008.

IE/ITP "African Americans in Austin before 1865" Online Exhibit Spotlighted by the City of Austin
Parks and Recreation Department

Grad Students Win 2008 IE/Interpreting the Texas Past Fellowships

UT WEB Feature Story Spotlights IE Oral History and Diversity Project.

Jodi Skipper
2005-2006 IE "Interpreting the Texas Past" Scholar-in-Residence Awarded

ITP Scholar-in Residence Report: 2003-2004

Student Testimonials
Graduate Courses
Cultural Representations of the Past
Oral Narrative as History
ITP Students Win Zora Neale Hurston Prize
2003-2004 ITP Scholar-in-Residence and Fellowships
2005-2006 Scholar-in-Residence Competition
ITP Wins Innovation Award
The Austin Women's Commemorative Project
Dr. Martha Norkunas

Media Coverage

How One 1960’s East Austin Nightclub Set the Stage for a Changing Austin, NPR, December 2, 2016 [Former IE “Interpreting the Texas Past (ITP) student interviewed about his oral history work in East Austin]

Former IE-ITP Student Awarded the Baylor Institute for Oral History's 2014-2015 Charlton Oral History Research Grant, August 4, 2014.

Patrick Beach, Former IE Professor Continues African-American Oral History Project in Tennessee, Austin American-Statesman, April 6, 2014.

Dr. Roger Davis, "I've Got Some Antique in Me: The Discourse of Authenticity and Identity in the African American Blues Community in Austin, Texas." (Vol 39, issue 2), January 4, 2013. [This research was part of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Interpreting the Texas Past Project (ITP).]

Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Interpreting the Texas Past (ITP) Student's Oral History Project Published in Living Blues Magazine (October, 2010).

Patrick Beach, "Black Austinites Share Stories for UT Oral History Project: Students Get Different Perspective on City's History as They Talk to African American Residents," Austin American-Statesman, August 15, 2010. [This article features Dr.Martha Norkunas' Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) African American Oral History Project.]

Martha Norkunas' IE Interpreting the Past Project Featured in Radio Interview (May 2010) [UT students learn about and appreciate ethnic/racial/gender differences by conducting oral histories.] .mp3 file

Martha Norkunas, "Listening Across Differences," Presentation at the Smithsonian (September 2009).

Leslie Blair, "Student Gets Hooked on East Austin Blues History," UT Know, April 12, 2010. [IE Interpreting the Texas Past student's work spotlighted; excerpts taken from his article in Living Blues Magazine magazine.]

"Matthew Robinson: Still a Wild Mustang," Living Blues Magazine, December 2009. [This article is based on work done as part of Dr.Martha Norkunas' IE Interpreting the Texas Past: African American Texans Oral History Project].

"Keeper of Untold Stories Closes Book on Work at UT: History Project Spotlights Racism," The Daily Texan, May 11, 2009. [This story features the IE Oral History and Diversity Project and the work of Dr. Martha Norkunas.]

First IE/ITP Scholar-in-Residence Announced

History in the Making: "Citizen-scholars" Build Bridge Between Yesterday, Today

Grassroots Historians Team Up with Local Agencies to Bring Past and Future History to Light: The Project in Interpreting the Texas Past

IE/ITP Scholar-in-Residence Spotlighted in Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine

All History is Local: UT Historians take history back to where it happened