The Shape of Texas: Maps As Metaphors

Front Cover
Texas A&M University Press, 1995 - History - 118 pages
Texas-shaped ashtrays, belt buckles, earrings, kitchen utensils--"Texas kitsch"--fill gift shops alongside highways and in airports. The Lone Star State's unmistakable shape is appropriated by advertisers to hawk everything from beans to automobiles inside Texas' borders and beyond. As a billboard-sized neon sign glowing atop a popular honkey-tonk, the Texas map illuminates the Fort Worth night sky, attracting tourists in search of a good time--and a share of the Texas experience.

Over the years America's most recognizable state outline has become one of its most potent symbols, a metaphor for Texas popular culture. In the last decade, the private, commercial, and official use of the Texas map as cultural symbol has boomed.

Richard V. Francaviglia identifies this current trend as "Tex-map mania," and contends that the Texas map as icon integrates geography with history--and gives shape to a mythic landscape and to abstracted notions of what Texas is and who Texans are.

Written in a lively style that engages both the scholar and

the general reader in a discussion of the power of symbol and the

meaning and significance of a shared aesthetic, The Shape of Texas is at the crossroads of cartography and popular culture. Francaviglia uses more than one hundred illustrations in offering a provocative visual and written account of this important, yet much neglected, aspect of Texas history and the dynamics of a still emerging Texas identity.

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About the author (1995)

RICHARD V. FRANCAVIGLIA is an associate professor of history and the director of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the History of Cartography at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has written more than twenty articles for geographical and historical journals. His two previous books are Hard Places: Reading the Landscape of America's Historic Mining Districts (1991) and The Mormon Landscape: Existence, Creation, and Perception of a Unique Image in the American West (1978).

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