Academic Conference - Filson+MESDA: New Voices in Kentucky Material Culture


The Filson Historical Society Fri, Oct 13, 2023 4:00 PM - Sat, Oct 14, 2023 4:00 PM


The Filson and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts are partnering to open new conversations about material culture in the colonial and early-national Ohio Valley. Whose perspectives on the past have been ignored? Which stories have gone untold? Whose work has been un-examined and underappreciated? Who can tell us a new, relevant story now?

This two-day conference will feature panels exploring Black, Indigenous, female, and queer perspectives on the confluence of rivers and cultures in the 18th and 19th century. It is intended to spark new ideas by bringing together academics, curators, collectors, and practicing artists.

Friday October 13, 2023

4:00 – 5:30 

Mairin OdleUniversity of Alabama, “Under the Skin: Tattoos, Scalps, and the Contested Language of Bodies in Early America”

Casey PriceUniversity of Tennessee-Knoxville, “Mapping Cherokee Foreign Policy: John Stuart’s’ Map of the area between Fort Loudon, Tennessee, and Kaskaskia, Illinois

6:00 – 7:00 Keynote:

Kariann Akemi YokotaUniversity of Colorado-Denver, “Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America became a Postcolonial Nation”

Saturday October 14, 2023

8:30 – 9:00 Coffee and Pastries Available in Lobby

9:00 – 10:30

Lea LaneMuseum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

Mark Alan MattesUniversity of Louisville, “Trees and Texts: Indigenous History, Material Media, and the Logan Elm”

11:00 – 12:30 

Neal Gene HurstColonial Williamsburg Foundation, “‘Half horse – half alligator and tipped with the snapping turtle:’ Clothing the early Kentuckian”

Robert P. MurrayMercy University, “Hemp: Everywhere & Nowhere”

12:30 – 2:00 Lunch

Boxed lunches, included in ticket price for registrants

2:00 – 4:00

Ben BascomBall State University, “How (Not) to Leave a Legacy in the Early Republic: John Fitch, ‘Lord’ Timothy Dexter, and the Lessons of John Filson”

Philippe HalbertWadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Leading the Way: The 1749 Lead Plate Expedition and French Dreams of Empire in the Ohio Valley