Haptic Bodies: Perception, Touch, and the Ethics of Being




adjective technical
of or relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception [relative perception].

How are we, as global citizens, accountable to each other? This year’s Scholar and Feminist Conference explores the haptic—the perception and manipulation of objects using the sense of touch—as an ethics of being in the world. Feminist scholars, artists, and activists come together in this utterly unique two-day conference to examine the many ways in which touch helps us better understand the politics and aesthetics of embodiment, situatedness, and performance. Through a series of panels and artistic encounters, we consider how our senses—not only touch, but taste, sight, and sound—situate us as bodies in political and economic contexts (such as labor), as well as in personal and sensory ones.

*Note: Registration is closed for this event. Due to its popularity, we will be seating on a first-come, first-served basis.


Please visit the concurrent exhibition Weaving Gender/Quilting Racefeaturing works by Vera P. Hall and Martha Friedman, on view from March 1 – 28 in the Tunnel Gallery, Altschul, Lower Level.

Blue Herring by Martha Friedman
Blue Herring is part of a body of work that consists of a series of large relief sculptures, which replicate the signature patterns of bespoke male suiting. It is a sculpture that dissects standard suiting cloth weaves, in this case, herringbone, to reconfigure it on a monumental scale. The patterns displayed present a symbolic representation of male power and privilege alluding to a gendered, hierarchical society in which some individuals are draped and girded by these fabrics, as others toil using unacknowledged digital labor to make them.

Touching History: The Quilts of Vera P. Hall
Quilting is an unusually community oriented artistic practice, and even everyday quilts have “stories stitched in the seams.” Former educator and political activist, Vera P. Hall has been a textile artist for over 50 years. The black history quilts displayed in Touching History combine Hall’s masterful stching with skills she developed as a second grade teacher and reading expert to digitally engage important questions: How do you tell a complicated story visually? How do you help people with different literacies learn our common history?



Friday, March 3rd

4 PM – 5 PM: Weaving Gender/Quilting Race: The Politics of Digital Labor

Artist talkback with Vera P. Hall and Martha Friedman

Moderated by Tina Campt

5 PM – 6 PM: Reception

6 PM – 8 PM: Dance and Spoken Word Performances

Dance conduction – student/faculty performance led by Gabri Christa with live music by Burnt Sugar Arkestra

Spoken word performance by Ramya Ramana

Artist talkback moderated by Sarah Nooter

Saturday, March 4th

10 AM: Welcome by Tina Campt and Nancy Worman

10:15 AM – 1:151 AM: Art and the Senses: Panel 1

Josely Carvalho in conversation with Alicia Imperiale and Alex Purves

11:30 AM – 1 PM: The Haptics of Race

Rizvana Bradley, Ashon Crawley, Samantha Sheppard and Mila Zuo

Moderated by Tina Campt

1 PM – 2 PMLunch

2:30 PM – 4 PM    Haptic Animalities

Joshua Bennett, Patricia Clough and Jasbir Puar 

Moderated by Carla Freccero 

4:3o PM – 5:30 PM: Art and the Senses: Panel 2

Grisha Coleman Erin Manning in conversation with Victoria Wohl

Moderated by Nancy Worman

5:30 – 6:30 PM: Reception


Joshua Bennett

Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In 2010, Dr. Bennett delivered the Commencement Address at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with the distinctions of Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.

Winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series, Dr. Bennett has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, and the Ford Foundation. His writing has been published or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The New York Times, Poetry and elsewhere. He is currently a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.

Josely Carvalho

Josely Carvalho

Brazilian-born multimedia artist Josely Carvalho lives and works in New York City and Rio de Janeiro. Her works range from paintings, sculptures and book art to printmaking, photography, video/sound installations, internet and most recently olfactory art. Her installations incorporate varied technology in the construction of both digital and physical environments, while her provocative web concept, Book of Roofs (2000), weaves sound, text, and images into interactive virtual perspectives on “shelter/shelterless.” Carvalho has exhibited extensively and her work is the collection of several museums.  Since 2009, she has been working in the development of conceptual smells bringing this forgotten sense to the attention of contemporary visual art.

She has been awarded last year a Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Among other grants are: Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio International Conference and Research Center residency in Italy; Frans Masserel Print Center, Kasterlee, Belgium; New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA); Creative Capital Foundation; New York Foundation for the Arts; NEA Visual Artist Fellowship. As an artist, she has been actively engaged in communities founding and directing for eleven years The Silkscreen Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, N.Y.C.  As a feminist artist, she created artistic events and exhibits to include Latin American Women artists in the New York contemporary art circle in the 80s. She was a member of the Heresies Collective; a Board member of College of Art Association and an Advisory artist at New York Foundation for the Arts.

Gabri Christa

Gabri Christa

Choreographer and filmmaker Gabri Christa hails from the island nation of Curaçao. She choreographed and danced with companies such as Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (Cuba) and the Bill T. Jones Dance Company (USA). Awards include a Guggenheim for Choreography, an ABC television award for creative excellence.  Gabri was invited to Pangea Day Festival as one World’s 100 most promising Filmmakers.  Her new Film “One Day At a Time” won Best Short Documentary at the Harlem International Film Festival in the fall. She is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College, Columbia University, dance Department.  Read her writing in BCRW’s Scholar and Feminist Online, “ANOTHER BUILDING dancing: Making Quarantine and Savoneta.” 

Patricia Ticineto Clough

Patricia Clough

Patricia Ticineto Clough is professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center and Queens College of the City University of New York. Among her publications is Autoaffection: Unconscious Thought in the Age of Teletechnology and as editor The Affective Turn:  Theorizing the Social, and Beyond Biopolitics. Forthcoming is The User Unconscious: Essays on Affect, Media and Computation. Clough’s work has drawn on theoretical traditions concerned with technology, affect, unconscious processes, political economy and experimental methods of research and presentation. She also is a psychoanalyst practicing in NYC.

Grisha Coleman

Grisha Coleman

Grisha Coleman works as a choreographer and composer in performance and experiential media. Her work explores relationships among our physiological, technological and ecological systems. She currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Movement, Computation and Digital Media in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, and the School of Dance at Arizona State University. Her recent art and scholarly work, echo::system, is a springboard for re-imagining the environment, environmental change, and environmental justice. Coleman is a New York City native with an M.F.A. in Composition and Integrated Media from the California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally; including a 2012 National Endowment Arts in Media Grant [NEA], the 2014 Mohr Visiting Artist at Stanford University, a fellowship at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, and grants from the Rockefeller M.A.P Fund, The Surdna Foundation, and The Creative Capital Foundation.
Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley is Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at University of California, Riverside. His research and teaching experiences are in the areas of Black Studies, Performance Theory and Sound Studies, Philosophy and Theology, Black Feminist and Queer theories. His first book project, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press),​ is an ​investigation of aesthetics and performance as modes of collective, social imaginings otherwise.

Carla Freccero

Carla Freccero

Carla Freccero is Distinguished Professor of Literature and History of Consciousness at UCSC. Trained in continental Renaissance Studies, she also works on Feminist and Queer Theory and Animal Studies. She is the author of several books, including Father Figures (Cornell 1991),Popular Culture (NYU 1999), and Queer/Early/Modern (Duke 2006). She co-edited Premodern Sexualities; and special issues of American Quarterly (on Species/Race/Sex) and Yale French Studies (Animots). Her current book project is Animal Inscription.

Vera P. Hall

Vera Hall

A former educator and political activist, Baltimore resident Vera P. Hall has also been a textile artist for over 50 years.  She grew up in rural North Carolina with a love of clothing design and gradually moved from sewing for friends and family to becoming an expert in couture clothing techniques and wearable art. Throughout her life as a teacher, administrator, politician and mother, she continued to sew professionally. In addition to serving on the Baltimore City Council from 1985-1992, Vera made history when she was elected Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party in 1992, becoming the first African American female chair of a state Democratic Party by one vote.  During her retirement, she devoted herself to mastering applique quilting and has been creating a series of African American History quilts that draw on her wide reading in African history, her visits to historic sites, and, of course, her rich imagination. You can find a more biographical information on Vera in the African-American History archive

Erin Manning

Erin Manning

Erin Manning holds a University Research Chair in Relational Art and Philosophy in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). She is also the director of the SenseLab (www.senselab.ca), a laboratory that explores the intersections between art practice and philosophy through the matrix of the sensing body in movement. Current art projects are focused around the concept of minor gestures in relation to colour and movement. Publications include Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance (Duke UP, 2013), Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009) and, with Brian Massumi, Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience (Minnesota UP, 2014) and The Minor Gesture (Duke UP, 2016).

Ramya Ramana

Ramya Ramana

Ramya Ramana, 21, is an author, activist, poet, writer, and most of all, believer of God. She was the previous Youth Poet Laureate of New York City. She won the New York Knicks Poetry Slam that awarded her with a full scholarship to St. John’s University, where she is studying English. As the Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya has performed at several venues including Apollo Theatre, City Hall, Hammerstein Ballroom and many more notable venues including the inauguration of New York City’s Mayor, Bill De Blasio. She has shared stages with notable people including Harry Belafonte, President Bill Clinton, Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rosario Dawson, Eve Ensler and many more. Through her journey and collective experiences, Ramya hopes to grow into a better person with light, love and a clear vision of unity for humanity.

Samantha Sheppard

Samantha Sheppard

Samantha N. Sheppard is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University. She is currently a 2016-2017 Faculty Fellow at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities where she is completing her manuscript Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory in Sports Cinema. She earned her MA and PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of California Los Angeles. Sheppard is the co-editor of From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (University Press of Mississippi, 2016). She has published essays in Cinema Journal and the award-winning edited collection The L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema (University of California Press, 2015). She has forthcoming essays in the Journal of Sport & Social Issues and the Journal of Sports History.

Victoria Wohl

Victoria Wohl

Victoria Wohl is Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto. She works on the literature and culture of classical Athens, with a focus on the social (especially gender) relations, political thought, and psychic life of democratic Athens. In particular she is interested in the intersection among these three fields – the social, the political, and the psychic – and the role of literature in articulating and negotiating their interaction. She is the author of Intimate Commerce: Exchange, Gender, and Subjectivity in Greek Tragedy (Texas, 1998), Love Among the Ruins: The Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens (Princeton, 2002), Law’s Cosmos: Juridical Discourse in Athenian Forensic Oratory (Cambridge, 2010), and Euripides and the Politics of Form (Princeton, 2015); and editor of the volume Probabilities, Hypotheticals, and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought (Cambridge, 2014). You can reach her at v.wohl@utoronto.ca..

Mila Zuo

Mila Zuo

Mila Zuo is assistant professor of Film at Oregon State University. She received her PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA in 2015, and her current book project examines the affective work and world-making of contemporary Chinese women film stars. Her recent articles, “Bodies, blood, and love: the ‘touching’ politics of HIV/AIDS film Love for Life” and “Sensing ‘performance anxiety’: Zhang Ziyi, Tang Wei, and female film stardom in the People’s Republic of China” appear respectively in Journal of Chinese Cinemas and Celebrity Studies journal. Zuo is current recipient of a 2016-2017 Center for the Humanities fellowship at Oregon State University.

Zuo’s creative praxis examines the embodied performances of race and gender through narrative filmmaking. Her short film Carnal Orient was an official selection in a dozen international film festivals and has exhibited in theaters and gallery spaces in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Diego, Atlanta, Portland, London, Singapore, Nagoya, the Czech Republic, as well as in various university classrooms.