The David B. Warren Symposium


This biennial symposium addresses different aspects of the theme “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience.” 

One of the greatest cultural treasures in the state of Texas, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is renowned for its superb collection of American and Texas decorative arts and paintings. Established by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to honor Bayou Bend’s founding director emeritus, the David B. Warren Symposium has been presented biennially since 2007. Each symposium addresses different aspects of the theme “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience.” The goal is an ongoing forum that examines pre-1900 Texas, as well as the Lower South and Southwest, through the lens of American material culture.

Call for Papers

2023 David B. Warren Symposium on American Material Culture and the Texas Experience
“Image and Identity: Representing Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest before 1900”
Friday & Saturday, April 28 & 29

Bayou Bend is accepting proposals for papers on the relationship between imagery and identity in material culture and visual art in pre-1900 Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest, to be presented at the 2023 David B. Warren Symposium. The ninth biennial symposium explores how images created in and of Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest constructed, represented, dismantled, or concealed the identity of the people who lived there. Subjects could include, but are not limited to, makers or consumers of imagery; reproduction of images in various media; intended or received messaging; absences or gaps in imagery. Papers that explore Black, Brown, and Indigenous histories, identities, and images are of special interest. Proposals focusing on Texas and those presenting previously unpublished research receive particular consideration. Papers are published in the symposium proceedings in 2024. 

Proposals
Deadline: September 15
Participants are invited to submit a 300-word abstract proposal for a paper to be presented as an illustrated oral lecture 25 or 50 minutes in length. A current CV should accompany the abstract, and a suggested presentation length should be included. In general, 25-minute lectures are more appropriate for emerging scholars, and 50-minute lectures are appropriate for senior scholars. Proposals are due to Bayou Bend by September 15, 2022. Those whose papers are accepted receive transportation expenses, an honorarium for speaking, and a fee for preparing their manuscript for publication.

The overall theme of the symposium series is “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience.” The goal is an ongoing forum that examines pre-1900 Texas, as well as the Lower South and Southwest, through the lens of American material culture. 

More Information
To ask questions and submit papers, contact warrensymposium@mfah.org via email.

History of the David B. Warren Symposium

The David B. Warren Symposium is named in honor of David B. Warren, the founding director emeritus of Bayou Bend.

The inaugural symposium, “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience,” was presented by Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on February 9 & 10, 2007. David B. Warren delivered the keynote address, “A Gift of Love: Miss Ima Hogg’s Quest to Bring Americana to Texas.” The second symposium, “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience, Part 2” was presented October 30 & 31, 2009. The first two symposia placed the pre-1900 material culture of Texas, the lower South, and the Southwest within a national and international context, establishing a tradition that future symposia would follow.

The third biennial David B. Warren Symposium, “The Civil War and the Material Culture of Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest,” was held October 28–30, 2011, and commemorated the sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War. The fourth symposium, “Itinerant and Immigrant Artists and Artisans in 19th-Century Texas,” took place October 25–27, 2013, and acknowledged the contributions of foreign-born craftsmen, photographers, and artists to the material culture of the Lone Star State. The fifth symposium, October 23–25, 2015, focused on “Creators and Consumers: Women and Material Culture and Visual Art in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest.”

In 2017, the symposium moved the presentation of papers from October to February 24 & 25 with the sixth installment, “Traditions in Transition: Change and Material Culture in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest.” The seventh symposium, “A Diverse History: Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest before 1900,” February 22 & 23, 2019, sought to examine the diversity of cultures influencing 19th-century art in Texas and the South. The eighth symposium, “The Power of Place,” presented February 26–28, 2021, featured seven scholars examining how place helped to influence and define material culture in Texas.

The David B. Warren Symposium is made possible with generous support from the David B. Warren Symposium Endowment; Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Nancy Glanville Jewell; and The Summerlee Foundation.