Image: Martabel Wasserman

Berkeley/Stanford Symposium

Touch Me (Not): Making Contact


Free with RSVP

The Berkeley/Stanford Symposium is an annual gathering of emerging voices in the arts organized by graduate students in art history at Stanford and UC Berkeley.

The ascendance of COVID-19 has forced us to reconsider the facets of our lives that we took for granted before. One of these is the day-to-day experience of contact, touch, breath, and life. This year’s Berkeley/ Stanford Graduate Symposium seeks to address the multiple ways in which we now think about contact — from its affective, material, aesthetic, and social implications to its presence in relationships between the human and non-human, in the realms of ritual, knowledge production, art-making, and reception. How then do we make and unmake contact individually and collectively, through time and space, and across borders geographical and corporeal?


10:00–11:00 a.m.: Panel 1: Premodern Touch

  • Meng Zhao (University of Chicago): “Crafting Sensuality: Tactual Erotics in Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers
  • Maria Constantina Terss (Stanford University): “Contacting Spirit: Forming the Invisible in the New Image of post-Iconoclast Byzantium”
  • Meagan Khoury (Stanford University): “Negotiating Touch and Talk in Giotto’s Noli me tangeres

11:00–11:15 a.m.: Coffee break

11:15–12:15 p.m.: Panel 2: Modern Contact

  • Maggie Borowitz (University of Chicago): “‘To turn your private life into something that’s shared’: Private Spaces and Intimate Visions in Magali Lara’s Art”
  • Molly Superfine (Columbia University): “Tactility and Transference in the Early Works of Beverly Buchanan, 1978-1981”
  • Colin Buist (University of Toronto): “Touching Queer Faith”

12:15–1:00 p.m.: Lunch break

1:00–2:00 p.m.: Keynote Panel

  • Eva Hayward (University of Arizona): “Painted Camera, ‘Her’”
  • Candice Lin (UCLA): “Seeping, Rotting, Resting, Weeping”

Keynote Speaker Bios

A Fulbright scholar, Eva Hayward is an associate professor of gender & women’s studies at the University of Arizona. In 2021, she co-edited a special issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly (Duke UP) “Trans in the Time of HIV/AIDS.” She works across a range of disciplines, including sexuality studies and aesthetics.

Candice Lin is an artist whose practice utilizes installation, drawing, video, and living materials and processes, such as mold, mushrooms, bacteria, fermentation, and stains. She has had recent solo exhibitions at the Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2021); Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2020), New Zealand; ICA, NYU Shanghai (2020); Pitzer Galleries, Claremont, CA (2020) and the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Art Center, Canada (2019). She is currently Assistant Professor of Art at UCLA and lives and works in Los Angeles.

Symposium Organizers

Harleen Kaur Bagga, Stanford University
Elizabeth Fair, UC Berkeley
Vanessa Jackson, UC Berkeley
Ron Elizedek Reichman, Stanford University
Martabel Wasserman, Stanford University