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News Release — April 6, 2009

Wittliff Asst. Curator Steve Davis inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters

SAN MARCOS, Texas—Author Steven L. Davis, who works as the Wittliff Collections Assistant Curator at Texas State University-San Marcos, has been elected to membership in the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL). New members will be introduced at the TIL annual meeting, held this year in Waco, Texas, on April 17 and 18.

The Texas Institute of Letters is a non-profit organization founded in 1936 to stimulate interest in Texas letters and to recognize distinctive literary achievement. Membership is granted through nomination by two current active members, a four-fifths majority vote by the TIL council, and approval by the membership at large.

In addition to promoting fellowship among writers and others especially interested in the cultural development of the state, the TIL annually gives awards for published work and, with the University of Texas at Austin, supports the Dobie-Paisano Fellowships for writers, which provides recipients with a stipend and a six month residency at J. Frank Dobie’s former ranch, Paisano, southwest of Austin.

As a TIL member Davis joins a prestigious list that includes Sandra Cisneros, Kinky Friedman, John Graves, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Bill Moyers, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tim O’Brien, and founder of the Collections, Bill Wittliff. Current Texas State faculty who are also members include John Blair, Debra Monroe, Kathleen Peirce, Miles Wilson, and Steve Wilson, as well as Mark Busby, Dagoberto Gilb, and Tom Grimes, who sit on the Wittliff Collections Advisory Board.

Steven L. Davis

Steven L. Davis received his B.A. in 1992 from Texas State, and in 1994 he began working as a library assistant at the Wittliff Collections as a graduate student. He earned his master’s degree in English/Southwestern Studies in 1995, and he became the Assistant Curator of the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection in 1997.

His first book, Texas Literary Outlaws: Six Writers in the Sixties and Beyond, was published by TCU Press in 2004 and praised by reviewers for its blend of solid scholarship and engaging readability. Texas Literary Outlaws was named a top 10 nonfiction book of the year by the San Antonio Express-News and the best book of the year by a regional writer by the Forth Worth Weekly.

“I realized early on that the archives in the Wittliff Collections are a treasure house for researchers,” Davis said. “The authors I wrote about couldn’t always recall many details from the Sixties, but by using their correspondence files in the Wittliff holdings I was able to piece together a good part of their lives.”

Davis has also produced two books in the Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series with the University of Texas Press: Lone Star Sleuths: Mystery/Detective Fiction from Texas (co-edited with Bill Cunningham and Rollo Newsom) and Land of the Permanent Wave: An Edwin “Bud” Shrake Reader.

His forthcoming book (due from UT Press this fall) is J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind, the first major study of the famed southwestern writer in over 30 years. TIL fellow Larry McMurtry read the book in manuscript and praised it by noting: “At last, after a long wait, we have a crisp, reliable, and thorough biography of J. Frank Dobie: a colossus who bestrode the Texas literary scene ebulliently…. Steve Davis gives us a much richer understanding of Dobie than we have had previously. All in all, a fine effort.”

Davis’s duties at the Wittliff Collections include donor relations, curating exhibits, serving as editor of the Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series, facilitating the acquisition of archives, assisting researchers, outreach and public programming, giving lectures and tours, ordering books and other secondary source materials, and maintaining the Southwestern Writers Collection section of the website.

Steve lives in New Braunfels with his wife, Georgia Ruiz Davis, who manages a state historic site for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and their two daughters, Natalie and Lucia. Their home includes two dogs and two cats.