Brown Symposium

The Brown Symposium is now presented by Southwestern University on a biennial basis. The symposium is funded through an endowment established by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Texas, for professorships at the University.

The symposia are designed to enhance the effectiveness of the work for which the endowed professorships were established. Each symposium presents topics in one of the broad areas of study represented by the chairholder. 

Brown Symposium 2023

February 21-23, 2023

Revolution, rebellion, and resistance are moments which offer access to what we might call the radical imagination. The radical imagination is a place which reflects our hopes, dreams, and desires; anger, resentment, and grievance; fears, commitments, and passions, often in daring acts of bricolage. Perhaps nothing offers us an entry point to this combination of creative friction, engagement and entanglement more than art. As a form of symbolic politics, art can challenge our perceptions, reveal uncomfortable truths, and stir us to action. Through its affective and aesthetic appeal, art can move viewers and empower communities. It proffers spaces and places of possibility, imagining the impossible as a critical practice of hope. Cultural critique plays an essential role in naming socio-political problems and refusing an unjust status quo. But there is also always the question of what comes next? What other worlds are possible? How do we envision and articulate an elsewhere?

This symposium includes speakers and events from different fields to discuss how art from the past and present challenges political oppression, cultural marginalization, and social inequity. We will explore the transformational capacity of art to protest injustice and imagine a better world.

Kimberly A. Smith
Professor of Art History
Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts

Eric Selbin
Professor of Political Science
Holder of the Lucy King Brown Chair

  • Photo Gallery & Video: 41st Brown Symposium - RADICAL IMAGINATION: Art & Social Change

    Check out the wrap-up video and photo gallery of events from the 2023 Brown Symposium.