Going to SXSW? Put the Harry Ransom Center On Your Schedule.

Travel Blog  •  Sophia Dembling  •  02.17.09 | 6:00 PM ET

Photo by Eric Beggs

The South by Southwest (or SXSW) film, music and interactive festival is less than a month away. Got your plans and reservations yet? (And did you know that many Austinites flee the city as you arrive? Too much traffic and other mishigos.)

I realize that SXSW is all about the future of this, that and the other, but while you’re in town, I urge you to carve out some time to pay your respects to what many consider a dying art form, the written word, with a stop at the free galleries at the Harry Ransom Center.

At this research center and repository for 20th-century literature and other cultural ephemera, I’ve seen letters from Anne Sexton; Langston Hughes’ hand-written poems; brass knuckles (inexplicably) found in one of John Fowles’ desk drawers when his archives arrived at the center; and the original scroll of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” (Although this particular artifact was on loan to the HRC as part of an enormous exhibit on the Beats.)

The HRC’s collections are deep and wide and include famous writers’ writing implements, about which Suzy Banks ruminates in this story from the latest edition of the HRC’s shmancy newsletter. (Evelyn Waugh’s inkwell is pictured here.) These tools are not currently on display, but lots of other cool stuff is.

Not planning to make the SXSW scene? Make an armchair (or desk chair) visit to the collections via the HRC’s web exhibitions. (“Gone with the Wind” fans, this one’s for you.)

Sophia Dembling

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is co-author of the Flyover America blog and author of "The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas." She would love to hear your tales of America, so drop her an email.

1 Comment for Going to SXSW? Put the Harry Ransom Center On Your Schedule.

Michael Yessis 02.20.09 | 3:01 PM ET

I second this. The Harry Ransom Center is a wonder.

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