…to all who participated in the 37th Annual Art History Graduate Student Symposium, which was hosted online on Friday and Saturday, March 5–6, 2021. This year for the first time, the Symposium was entirely planned, organized, and executed by a committee of students. Despite the challenges of the remote environment, the committee continued our long tradition of accessibility, hospitality, and scholarship.
Our keynote speaker this year was Charlene Villaseñor Black, Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (UC Press). She publishes on a range of topics related to contemporary Latinx art, the early modern Iberian world. and Chicanx studies. Most recently she has accepted the Terra Foundation Visiting Professorship in American Art at Oxford University for 2021-22.
The Graduate Student Symposium is hosted annually by the FSU Art History graduate students and faculty and directed by the Graduate Symposium Committee, an elected group of Art History MA and PhD students. Paper sessions take place on Friday afternoon and Saturday, with each paper followed by critical discussion. Papers are then considered for inclusion in Athanor, our internationally distributed journal. In this years’s conference, 11 graduate student scholars presented from around the country, and in some cases, the world, on topics ranging from Late Antique vault mosaics to Latin American modernism.
Each year one student paper is selected by the faculty on the basis of originality and presentation for the Günther Stamm Prize, in memory of a founding professor of the Department of Art History. This year the Stamm Prize was awarded to Mia Hafer of the University of Kansas for her paper, “Indices in Ivory: Inspiring Affective Piety with a Walrus Ivory Christ.”
This year’s Symposium Committee also introduced a new roundtable session featuring the important role of the Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies program within the field of art history. The roundtable’s inaugural theme was “Current Trends and Best Practices in Cultural Heritage Work.” The session highlighted distinguished alumnae and advanced graduate students who have worked with renowned museums, collections, and communities throughout the nation: Alexis Assam (MA ’18), Chelsea Dinkle (MA ’16), Ana Juarez (MA ’16), and doctoral candidate Emily Thames. These early career professionals shared insights on navigating the job market, adapting to increasingly digital environments, and the policies and methods in which museums are reshaping collections to represent the cultural diversity of American communities. The panelists also shared this list of museum resources for roundtable participants: MCHS Roundtable Resources.
Inaugurated in 1981, the FSU Art History Graduate Symposium participates in a long tradition of student conferences in our discipline. This open forum brings together students, professors, and members of the community to share ideas and expertise. We call it a symposium, with all the classical associations of that word, to suggest that it is not just a series of lectures, but a conversation.
Our purpose is to provide the opportunity for students to present the results of their scholarly efforts in twenty-minute talks, and to profit from the audience’s response. At the end of each paper, the speaker engages directly with the audience, both students and faculty, so that the ideas they present become the basis for further exploration. Each year we invite a distinguished scholar to deliver the keynote address and participate in these discussions, as part of the Vincent and Agatha Thursby Visiting Scholars Lecture Series. Recent keynote scholars have included Barbara E. Mundy, Claire Farago, Felipe Pereda, Maria Gough, John T. Paoletti, and Richard Schiff.
Sharing research, meeting others in our field, creating long-lasting friendships and professional associations – these vital interchanges are at the core of the FSU Symposium experience. We seek to broaden the professional, personal, and academic horizons of every participant: the visiting young scholar, the returning alumnus, the local undergraduate considering graduate work — and of course the professors, who also learn a great deal in the process.
Our symposium is distinguished from similar gatherings because it was conceived from the start to result in a publication. Student speakers are able to submit their papers to our journal Athanor, published here since 1981 in the College of Fine Arts by the FSU Museum of Fine Arts Press. The manuscript goes through several stages of editing before coming to fruition in the final article, which have been published and shared with more than 300 libraries and institutions across America and Europe. In the interest of conservation and innovation, in 2019 we transformed Athanor to an online publication, hosted by FSU Libraries: Athanor.