WTAMU’s CSAW Wins Autry Public History Prize from the Western History Association

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – West Texas A&M University’s Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) announced that they have won the 2020 Autry Public History Prize from the Western History Association for its “Red Dead University” project.

The Autry Public History Prize is awarded annually for media exhibits, public programs or written works that contribute to a broader public reflection and appreciation of the past or serve as a model of professional public history practice in the history of the North American West. CSAW officially received the prize, which includes $1,000 as well as certificates for key personnel, on Oct. 16.

“Red Dead University” was an exhibit, which was on view from Mar. 5 to Dec. 31, 2019, that allowed museumgoers to play the video game “Red Dead Redemption II,” a video game set in the old west, and compare the artifacts found in the game to their real-life counterparts. The project was a collaboration with the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM).

CSAW says, in addition to the exhibit they hosted a number of public events related to the project and coordinated student and faculty research projects focused on the game, on topics such as “ludomusicology” (the study of music in video games), ecology and cultural representation.

AJ McCormick, CSAW assistant director, said the project succeeded in inspiring student research.

“By the end of the project, we facilitated eight student presentations that resulted from the project, seven at academic conferences and one at AMA-CON,” McCormick said. “We are extremely proud of these students and that this project helped make these opportunities possible for them.”

Dr. Timothy Foster, CSAW associate director, said it was an honor to receive an award for a project that combined so many untraditional elements to reach students.

“It’s a really nice surprise to win the award,” Dr. Foster said. “It’s nice to get some recognition for a project that some saw as kind of out there.”

Funding for “Red Dead University” was provided by West Texas A&M University and the Killgore Faculty Research Program.

The University says projects such as this are a component of WT’s goal of becoming a regional research university, outlined in the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

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