Earlier this month, I participated in the Acorn Symposium at Texas State University. As far as philosophy conferences go, the breadth of faculty participation and humanities fields represented was truly impressive. I felt very lucky to be able to participate in the panels and have extended discussions with several other scholars from different fields over the course of the week. In that way, it was really unlike other philosophy conferences I’ve attended, and overall an enriching experience.
Poet Nikki Giovanni is a participant in this month’s events, which I was sorry to have to miss! You can read about the dialogue series the symposium was a part of here.
The Texas State students whose seminars and classes we presented to were quite engaged in the discussions, sometimes interacting with one another to disagree in lecture. The participation in the symposium from the public at the San Marcos Public Library was also quite impressive! The university has partnered with the public library in a way that would likely please anyone who values the public humanities.
Here’s a photo from one of the presentations I was invited to give, “Experiences in civic engagement and the role of the humanities in a democratic society“. This is a newer area of research for me following on an assistantship last year with Illinois Humanities, and one that I’m excited to be able to integrate into my teaching and contributions in social philosophy.
Photo credit: Dr. Greg Moses
After the conference concluded, fellow philosopher (and current Texan) Dr. Tom Brommage drove in from Houston to show me around San Antonio and Austin. Tom is one of my oldest friends, and one of the co-founders of Phi Org, the undergraduate philosophy club at University of South Florida that we were so excited to establish way back in 2002-03 — a club I believe still exists!
Tom performing his solemn duty as a Texan at the Alamo.
Tom’s arrival opened up another opportunity for some days of discussion, this time about the field of philosophy, the ongoing economic and political crises, and of course… music, music, and more music.
We even made a proper pilgrimage to Waterloo Records on Sunday.
As many friends told me it would be, central Texas was absolutely beautiful. It’s also an interesting place with a rich history that I wish I’d known more about before arriving… in part, because it is changing so rapidly.
Before returning, me to Chicago and Tom to Houston, we visited the George Washington Carver Museum in Rosewood and got some context for the investment-driven change taking place in the area. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover the special exhibits there on the Texas origins of Juneteenth and the struggle for civil and social rights in the state.
In a way, Texas is more enigmatic to me now than it was before I visited. It felt very familiar to me, much like Florida, but that’s probably illusory. I look forward to returning.