Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Upcoming Lectures at WT-Hosted Conference to Spotlight Historic Mexican-American Writers, African-American Artist


CANYON, Texas— From long-undiscovered Mexican-American writers in Texas to a groundbreaking painter of the Harlem Renaissance, two West Texas A&M University Distinguished Lecture Series speakers will offer glimpses into the 20th century.

The June 9 lectures, which are free and open to the public, are part of WT’s sponsorship of the 2023 Space Between Conference hosted on campus from June 8 to 10.

At 11 a.m. June 9, Dr. José E. Limón will present a keynote address: “Did Modernism Reach Texas, 1914-1945?: Mexican-American Outsiders and the Sexual Space in Between.”

The second keynote, beginning at 4:45 p.m. June 9, features Dr. Rebecca VanDiver, who will present “Designing Her Own Tradition: Placemaking in the Art and Career of Loïs Mailou Jones.”

Both lectures will take place in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall on the WT campus in Canyon.

Limón’s lecture will discuss two Mexican-American writers from south Texas, Jovita González and Américo Paredes, who each wrote a novel that remained unpublished until the 1990s.

“What is especially interesting about both is the way they represent sexuality as part of their arguments, a very unusual thing to do in the Texas culture of that time, both Anglo and Mexican American, and perhaps even today,” Limón said. “It is even more interesting that they also deal with same-sex relations as if anticipating our current moment when such relations are so much a part of our cultural conversation.”

Limón, professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, received the lifetime distinguished scholarly achievement award in 2018 from the Western Literature Association and the American Folklore Society’s Américo Paredes Prize for distinguished folklore scholarship. His books include “Mexican Ballads, Chicano Poems: History and Influence in Mexican-American Social Poetry” (University of California Press, 1992), “Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas” (University of Wisconsin Press, 1994), and “Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique” (University of Texas Press, 2012). Limón earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Limón previously spoke via Zoom for WT’s Center for the Study of the American West in 2020.

VanDiver, associate professor at Vanderbilt University, teaches courses on modern African American art, the history of women artists, and contemporary African art and visual culture. She is affiliated with the African American and Diaspora Studies program, as well as the Vanderbilt program in American Studies. Her research focuses on 20th century Black women artists and the use of print in African American art. She wrote “Designing a New Tradition: Loïs Mailou Jones and the Aesthetics of Blackness” (Penn State University Press, 2020). VanDiver earned her Ph.D. from Duke University.

Both speakers are part of the annual Space Between Conference, which has a theme of “Outsiders, Outlaws, and Outreach in the Space Between” this year and is co-chaired by Dr. Bonnie Roos, head of WT’s Department of English, Philosophy, and Modern Languages, and Dr. Amy Von Lintel, professor of art history in WT’s Department of Art, Theatre, and Dance and director of gender studies.

“Drs. Limón and VanDiver focus on aesthetic modernism and on ‘outsider’ writers and artists, which embody what makes the Space Between Society such a wonderful group to host on our campus,” said Von Lintel, WT professor of art history.

The annual conference brings together members of the Space Between Society, inviting scholars across disciplines to speak on research related to the period from 1914-1945.

Being a learner-centered university and fostering an appreciation for the arts are key principles of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

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