Funded Research Projects

Department of Visual Arts

Catherine RICHARDS


SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2020)

Through the research/creation of artworks, ObjectACTS engages in the contemporary debate about the social agency of objects and their capacity to act in the world. This heated exploration, simultaneously arising across the domains of contemporary art, philosophy, and cultural theory is altering our view of what constitutes being human, what characterizes an object and the role of art object making. ObjectACTS will amplify the ways the social force of objects is manifest by creating new art objects that exemplify agency in pointed ways. ObjectACTS identifies three sites with unique relationships with objects: heart transplants, specific kinds of Aboriginal objects, and virtual objects.



Ephemeral Coast: Curating Environmental Change

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2015-2019)

Ephemeral Coast is a curatorial research project that seeks to investigate our difficult relationship to the coast as a threshold and frontline to climate change.  It considers the possibilities of understanding art in relation to what may be described as an unparalleled event. The focus throughout will be on exploring new methods of critical art discourse through curation, leading to thought-provoking and highly public outcomes reflecting on hybrid role of the researcher/scholar/curator.


Department of Classics and Religious Studies


The Religion and Diversity Project

SSHRC-funded Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI)

Have you ever wondered about religious diversity in Canada? What challenges does it present? What opportunities does it offer? Our team of 36 researchers from across Canada is looking at these questions and weighing in on religious issues in Canada from a variety of perspectives including: religion, law, communication, sociology, history, political science, education and philosophy. If you want to challenge the way you think, visit our website to find out about exciting events taking place on and off campus and to read thought-provoking research findings as well as stimulating current events. Be daring and visit us at:!



"I wish to Offer a Sacrifice to God Today": Religious Violence in Late Antique Egypt

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2015-2019)

The period of Late Antiquity (4th-7th centuries) has long been perceived, and is stil often perceived, through the lens of (Christian) literary works, which tell dramatic stories of violence against temples, statues and even "pagans", and may give the impression that this was a period of widespread religious violence. Egypt, with iconic events such as the destruction of the Serapeum at Alexandria and the anti-"pagan" crusade of Abbot Shenoute in the region of Panopolis, has often been seend as a good illustration of the pervasive nature of religious violence in the Late Antique world. This project takes a different view. by using Religious Studies theories and models on religious violence and including all the other sources available from Egypt - papyri, inscriptions and archaeological remains - a more nuanced and complex picture arises, which shows that events were often dramatized for ideological purposes and that religious violence was the exception rather than the rule. This study, the first even book-length synthesis on religious violence in Late Antique Egypt, will be presented in the form of a series of regional case studies, which allows us the view occasional outbreaks of religious violence in the context of specific local or regional circumstances.



Soutanes et sacrements: The Catholic Church in Québécois Feature Films since the Quiet Revolution

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2019)

This project examines the representation of Catholicism in Québec films since the period of the Quiet Revolution. The hypothesis is that French-language fictional feature films, produced in Québec primarily for a Québec market, are a site for negotiating the tensions between Catholicism and secularity that came to a head in the Quiet Revolution but has by no means disappeared from Québec society. The research will show that Québécois films both perpetuate and also subvert stereotypes and expectations, often in the same film. Post-Quiet Revolution Québécois cinema thereby resists a uniform and simplistic representation of Québec society with respect to Catholicism and secularity. In their nuanced treatment of this tension, widely-viewed Québécois films serve as a site for identity construction on both the individual and collective levels, mirroring the ambivalent and even self-contradictory ways that viewers, and their communities, relate to Catholicism in their public spaces and private lives.

The project will fill a gap in the study of religion and film in general, and Québec film in particular. It will also contribute to an understanding of religion in Québec, to the relationships among Catholicism, society, and popular culture, to the issue of Québec’s Catholic heritage (le patrimoine), and to the study of immigration, accommodation and acculturation of non-Catholic communities in Québec. In analyzing the multiple, ambivalent, and often contradictory representations of religion in Québec films, the project will provide insight into the ongoing negotiation between Catholicism and secularism in the construction of identity in Québec private and public life. It will also contribute to reflection on the preservation and transmission of “le patrimoine” and the accommodation and acculturation of non-Catholic minorities.

The potential impact of this project extends beyond the borders of Québec, and Canada. While Québec cinema has its own particular historical, social, and cultural contours and contexts, many other countries and jurisdictions have experienced transitions from religious homogeneity to secular diversity – Spain, Ireland, Italy, Latin America and Israel, among others. In many cases, the national cinemas of these countries reflect the tensions and ambivalences inherent in this transition. The study of religion in Québec cinema will allow for a broader understanding of these profound social changes, particularly with regard to the role that films, and the national film industries might have in expressing the transition, reflecting and perhaps also shaping the impact of such changes on personal and collective identity, and contributing to the public discourse and debate that attends such processes of social transformation. The project will therefore contribute to our understanding of Québécois cinema and its relationship to society, and, more broadly, to an assessment of the role of mass-market cultural products in reflecting and thereby also shaping the construction of identity in cultures in transition from homogeneity to diversity, and from religiously-based social and value systems to secular ones.



Animals, Jainism and the Animate Cosmos: Accessing the Experiential Ground of Jain Consciousness

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2013-2016)

Jainism is renowned for its intricate ethical code that extends far beyond the human, and its complex catalogue of beings, some so small as to be invisible to the human eye but who are nonetheless important players in the drama of life and liberation. The animal – or more accurately, the nonhuman – plays a role of immeasurable importance in Jainism, the degree to which is astonishing in comparison with most other traditions. Contemporary thought is increasingly focused on the centrality of animals in human self-understanding, and my project seeks to explore a tradition whose reflections on non-human animals have always been a central preoccupation. Jainism’s philosophy, ethics, social origin myths, rituals, every-day practices, creative cultural imaginings, and ascetic ideal are all inescapably grounded in engagement with the nonhuman other.

Despite its rhetoric of detachment and aloneness, and its focus on nonviolence and rigorous asceticism, Jains understand themselves to be utterly enmeshed in a tangle of conscious life. Space for Jains teems with life: an incalculable number of living beings fill a finite cosmos. The distinctive Jain path of asceticism and nonviolence emerges from such an experience of the world as conscious, intentional, communicative, and, in the main, anarchic. Indeed, it is precisely because the cosmos is so congested with disorderly life that Jainism valorizes self-discipline, and glorifies the ascetics who embody it.

Generally, my project seeks to examine how the assumption of a shared capacity for subjectivity among all life-forms leads to a distinctive engagement with them. More specifically, I seek to better understand the rich and varied roles the non-human plays in Jainism and how they inform Jain self-conceptions. I explore how non-human animals factor into Jainism’s elaborate system of ethics and its ideal of rigorous asceticism, as well in Jain myth and folk narrative, and how they are implicated in Jain social origin myths (as they commonly are), as well as ask how animal communication and ways-of-knowing are engaged with, assessed or discounted. Finally, and in dialogue with contemporary Western debates, I query how both human distinctiveness from, and unity with, nonhuman animals is established, and what the broader implications of this are for our understandings of what it means to be human.

Exploring Jainism through the lens of the “non-human other” will contribute to a better understanding how the experiential encounter with the nonhuman other is the formative ground from which Jain ethics, rituals, and cosmology come into being.


Department of Communication

Rukhsana AHMED 

The Ottawa Multicultural Media Initiative

SSHRC-funded Partnership Development Grant (2011-2016)

Led by Rukhsana Ahmed, the Ottawa Multicultural Media Initiative (OMMI) is a multi-researcher, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral partnership, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, that links the University of Ottawa and the City of Ottawa to a network of multicultural media producers, leading multicultural media scholars and practitioners, representatives of the city’s Chinese, Somali, South Asian and Latin American communities, and other local stakeholders. OMMI will examine Ottawa’s growing multicultural media focusing on three inter-related objectives: 1) build long-term research capacity and expertise on the intersections between multicultural media, immigrant integration and economic prosperity; 2) forge strong partnerships with the City of Ottawa, targeted communities and local stakeholders through a broad and dynamic network of collaboration; and 3) co-create, mobilize and disseminate knowledge about multicultural digital and print media and their potential to address issues related to Ottawa’s economic prosperity and newcomers’ well-being and integration.


Geneviève BONIN

Mapping the professional orientations and worldviews of Canadian journalists

SSHRC funded Insight Grant (until March 2019)

The Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS) is a research project that aims to assess the state of journalism throughout the world. The central objective of the Canadian component of the study is to explore how Canadian journalists think about their profession and identify, social roles, and ethical values within a changing news ecosystem. The WJS has broken records in comparative communication research by bringing together researchers from 66 countries around the world. The Canadian francophone component of the project is led by Geneviève Bonin (co-applicant) in collaboration with Ivor Shapiro (principal investigator) & Heather Rollwagen (co-applicant) leading the English component at Ryerson University. The research team aims to map the professional identity of Canadian journalists while studying the disparities between Francophone and Anglophone journalists.

The Future of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Broadcasting: Conversation & Convergence SSHRC funded Connection Grant (until September 2017)

With the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission or CRTC’s Native Broadcasting Policy (CRTC 1990-89) review proposed to take place next year, the conference entitled The Future of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Broadcasting: Conversation & Convergence, organized by Dr. Geneviève Bonin (Principal investigator) and her team (Dr. Kathleen Buddle co-applicant from the University of Manitoba, Dr. Gretchen King co-applicant from the University of Ottawa, John Gagnon collaborator from Wawatay Communications Society, Chris Albinati, collaborator from York University) will kick-start discussions in the practitioner, policy and academic worlds. From February to May 2017, six regional one-day gatherings will be held across Canada. These regional gatherings will culminate in the convening of a national three-day conference in Ottawa in June 2017. The preparation of these events is principally based on a respectful engagement with Indigenous Peoples to support their needs as it relates to scholarship and research about Indigenous media, specifically the CRTC’s upcoming public review of the Native Broadcasting Policy.

Evaluating the impact of technology and funding on community radio in Canada

SSHRC funded Insight Development Grant (until May 2017)

This four-part study aims to understand the not-for-profit radio sector in Canada notably through analysis of its financial and technological practices. In the first phase of this study, in-depth interviews using an evaluation framework questionnaire were conducted with representatives from different associations in the country from the French, English and indigenous communities in order to gain a better understanding of the ways in which they approach the financial management of their stations in the digital environment. The second phase was an analysis of four years of the stations’ financial reports to better understand their financial management. A survey on the stations’ financial activities, their technological practices and their needs in research will be conducted in phase three. The study will conclude with the fourth phase, which is the dissemination of the results both within the sector and the academic community.


Boulou Ebanda DE B'BÉRI

Canada's 19th Century Black Press: Roots and Trajectories of Exceptional Communication and Intellectual Activism

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2021)

This research begins with the premise that early in 19th century, Canada's Black Press played a decisive role: (1) in the design of cultural and racial relations in Canada; (2) for Canada's involvement in transatlantic activism and (3) in the creation a multicultural national fabric; even if the practices and the names of journalists who used this means of expression have been left to the margins of the Great Canadian history as well as those of Communication Studies. Our main objectives are to (1) identify, (2) inventory, (3) track and (4) disseminate the history, communication practices and evolutionary trajectories of the Canadian Black Press.


Patrick MCCURDY 

MediaToil: Examining the evolution and struggle over the mediated representation of Canada's oil sands

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2014-2016)

The future of the Alberta oil sands is one of Canada's most visible yet controversial energy and environmental issues. As such, theirfate is the subject of an ongoing media struggle between industry, government and civil society all of whom are actively trying toshape public perception about the costs and benefits - the risks and rewards - of oil sands development. While multiple accounts offer a history of the oil sands, scarce research has analysed the contested media framing of the oil sands. Moreover, even less scholarship has analysed the visual aspects of this framing which is a significant oversight given that visuals – together with texts – are key resources in any mediated struggle. Responding to this gap, the MediaToil project is interested in how the representational struggle over Alberta's oil sands has played out in the publications and campaigns of select oil sands stakeholders. Starting from the oil sands' commercial development in the late 1960s, the project offers a detailed historical analysis of text and images produced in public documents and campaigns by select industry, government and civil society actors. Of interest are the attributes of these competing media representations, how these representations have developed over time, and how they underwrite the contemporary discursive and visual conventions of the oil sands debate. This project will pay particular attention to the visuals produced by stakeholders as they are key resources in any media and are thus critical features to study - along with texts - to better understand the context, evolution and attributes of the oil sands debate. Results from MediaToil will widen the aperture of understanding between government, private sector and civil society making transparent how the oil sands debate has evolved between various actors and the media tactics used by stakeholders. Findings will also make empirical and theoretical contributions to a growing academic literature on the representation of environmental communication and contention. Insights about the oil sands will be especially welcome given the magnitude of the topic and current lack of research. The project's innovative design which couples traditional qualitative analysis with computer-driven analysis will be of interest to digital humanities scholars for its attempt to capitalize on the affordances of digitization and data visualization. Lastly, MediaToil research findings will be made available on an interactive website which will provide a contextually informed chronological visual representation of the contested framing of the oil sands. The website will be promoted on social media channels, offer monthly blog posts and, when complete, offer an original visual and interactive macro perspective of the mediated struggle over oil sands campaigns. The website will be of interest to academia, oil sands stakeholders and the general public as a resource to track and make sense of how the media debate over the oil sands has unfolded.


Department of English

Jennifer BLAIR  

Colonial Awakenings, Secular Subversions

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2012-2017)

This project examines nineteenth-century Canadian writing about religious conversion, with a particular focus on how evangelical Protestant conversion narratives document the connections between modernity and colonialism. Protestant conversion was one of the most important vehicles of modernity’s expansionist efforts, and conversion narratives can be taken as evidence of Protestantism’s successful imposition of a new religious belief system. But they also express converts’ own ambivalent attitudes towards the modern ways of living in and understanding the world that this system entailed. The texts this project deals with primarily were written by Ojibwe, Haisla, Jewish, and Black Loyalist writers, and they express the religious, epistemological, and political perspectives of their authors prior to their conversions at least as much as they reaffirm Protestant ideals. In addition to its focus on Canada in the nineteenth century, this project also explores the extent to which conversion narratives might inform the nature of contemporary critical thought. Scholarship in the humanities – the very practice of critical thinking as we know it today – is a product of modernity, and this project responds to recent calls to reconfigure the humanities so that it better serves those for whom modernity continues to reproduce significant epistemological limits, as well as social and economic ones.



Science at the Margins, 1660-1820

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2015-2017)

This project examines Restoration and 18th-century writing about popular science, with a particular focus on how genres for lay readers promoted natural philosophy as central to the education of the lower classes and marginalized peoples. Charity schools in North America and Britain, although focused on literacy and Christian education, also championed popular Newtonianism, empirical observation, and the use of philosophical instruments as means of strengthening students' religious principles and improving their morals. My study enters into the current discussion by focusing specifically on populations that have been largely ignored by both literary historians and historians of science: poor readers, illiterate learners, "charity children", and students in Colonial American "Indian Schools".

I want to discover how popular scientific writing aimed at underprivileged groups might change our current understanding of the forms and functions of public science in the 18th century. More specifically, I will investigate how these texts viewed science as central both to discourses of sentiment and sympathy and also to the inclucation of feelings in and for the poor. As such, my project will explore important analogies between universal laws of natural philosophy and universal laws of human nature: if all human beings, like all physical objects, are subject to the same laws of motion and action, then howm ight one understand poverty and oppression not only in terms of divine providence, but also as accidnets of matter, spirit, or movement?


Cynthia SUGARS

The Idea of the Author in Pre-Confederation Canada

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2014-2016)

The aim of this project is to lay the groundwork for a book-length study of the ways that early nineteenth-century writers (1800-1860) in the British American colonies formulated ideas about what it meant to be a professional author at the same time as they engaged in questions about the nature and importance of a domestic literature. These two issues are inseparable because literary critical statements of the period reflect a distinct concern with the particular hurdles and character of colonial authorship. D.C. Harvey’s description of Nova Scotia in the years between 1835 and 1848 as a period of “intellectual awakening” applied to other regions equally well (2). It was a period of considerable unrest but also of cultural and intellectual fermentation; a time when writers from a range of perspectives raised important questions about the public worth of a domestic literature, the status of the authors who produced it, and the challenges to colonial cultural production. There is a growing body of important scholarly work on the decades after Confederation when Canada’s literary culture and ideas of a “national” literature were being developed, but our study shifts its focus to this earlier period precisely because this was an age in which writers, attuned to the broader implications of their historical moment, were engaged in wide-ranging debates about the very idea of authorship: namely, debates about the status and character of literary professionalism in a colonial context. The ideas they developed may still have been coming into focus in the pre-Confederation period, but as Raymond Williams has argued about emergent cultural formations generally, it was this transitional status that tended to encourage active reflections on the literary realities and shortcomings of the age. The preoccupation with national identity and its links with a distinct national literature that we see in the later age – foregrounded in the work of the Confederation group of writers but also in the writings of journalists such as Thomas D’Arcy McGee and Sara Jeannette Duncan – is less prominent in this period when a sense of colonial and hence cultural ties with England predominated. Few eras were more thoroughly shaped by the pressures and possibilities of a shifting world than early nineteenth-century Canada, both in terms of changing but still emergent ideas about literature and the broader political debates with which these cultural issues were entangled (debates about copyright protection, freedom of the press, libel, and responsible government). But as the editors of the History of the Book in Canada have cautioned, ideas about “the author's status and rights” were “slow in coming” (2:9). As George Parker insists, “contemporary discussions of authorship up to the 1860s do not usually list authors; rather, they try to account for the absence of authors and speculate on ways to nurture literary activity” (86). Rather than reinforcing the image of a handful of authors roughing it in the literary wilderness, our project emphasizes the period's highly developed cultural landscape of newspapers, periodicals, and literary coteries. Our focus is on the ways that ideas about literature were shaped by these newspapers and periodicals, and by the network of mediating factors that helped to structure pre-Confederation literature as a field of cultural production, including the age's competing narratives about the figure of the author as someone who engaged in particular types of writing, contributed to the production of particular forms of knowledge, and was compelled to write and (perhaps more importantly) to publish by specific motives.


Département de français

Geneviève BOUCHER 

Extrémisme révolutionnaire et esthétique du choc: le sublime dans l'imaginaire social de la Terreur

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2014-2016)

Notre projet consiste à sonder l'imaginaire social de la Terreur (1793-1794) à travers le concept de sublime qui, pendant la dernière décennie du XVIIIe siècle, passe du champ esthétique au champ politique. Motif servant d'abord à exalter la force de la nature et la grandeur esthétique, le sublime devient rapidement un mot-clé de la politique révolutionnaire. Pendant la Révolution, le sublime investit ainsi le champ politique où s'exprime désormais cette énergie qui hisse la nation vers sa destinée la plus haute tout en faisant trembler l'édifice social. Enthousiasmés par la grandeur des événements qu'ils provoquent et par l'ampleur de la destruction opérée, les révolutionnaires en viennent à considérer leur histoire comme une source de sublime. Le concept prend tout son sens dans le contexte de la Terreur où le déploiement d'une force violente est interprété comme un signe de grandeur. Notre hypothèse est que le sublime-terrible théorisé par Burke au midi du siècle fonde l'imaginaire politique de la Terreur, qui est tout entier tendu entre la grandeur et la déchéance, entre la promesse des hautes cimes morales et la menace d'avilissement, entre le grand récit de la libération du peuple et l'omniprésence de la mort dans l'espace social. Il cristallise des représentations diverses allant du culte de l'Être suprême à celui des martyrs révolutionnaires en passant par l'enthousiasme militaire et l'appel à une vertu civique qui exige l'aliénation du moi à la collectivité. Dans le cadre de ce projet, nous chercherons à comprendre quelle est la fonction idéologique, politique et esthétique du sublime dans une série de chansons, de poèmes patriotiques, de pièces de théâtre et de discours de circonstance écrits pendant cette période trouble de l'histoire de France. Il s'agira: 1. d'évaluer les concepts clés de l'idéologie de la Terreur (violence, vertu, refus du modérantisme, sacralisation du champ politique, etc.), à la lumière de la notion de sublime, considérée à la fois comme objet de représentations et comme sentiment esthétique; 2. de dresser un portrait de l'imaginaire social de l'époque à travers l'analyse de textes conçus pour avoir une résonance immédiate dans l'espace public; 3. de comprendre comment les textes mobilisent et retravaillent la dynamique du sublime afin de donner sens aux événements qui, entre 1793 et 1794, bouleversent profondément la cohésion sociale.


Lucie HOTTE 

Les réseaux littéraires franco-canadiens: 1970-2010

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2015-2020)

Ce projet porte sur les rapports qui unissent les institutions littéraires acadiennes, franco-manitobaines, franco-ontariennes et québécoises tant du point de vue des collaborations entre les organismes (co-édition, création d'organismes communs en édition, en recherche ou en critique littéraire) que des collaborations entre les individus (rencontres d'écrivans, écriture conjointe de livres, etc.). Cette étude qui porte plus particulièrement sur les institutions littéraires franco-canadiennes minoritaires en Acadie, en Ontario et dans l'Ouest canadien s'avère cruciale pour mieux comprendre leur développement parce qu,elle n'examinera pas que les liens entre les acteurs d'un seul milieu mais aussi les rapports que les acteurs d'une érgion entretiennent avec ceux des autres régions incluant le Québec. L'Ojectif principal du projet est de mieux comprendre le fonctionnement des réseaux littéraires franco-canadiens minoritaires en analysent les relations entre les actants des divers milieux.


Patrick IMBERT

Les histoires qui nous sont racontées: des narrativités causales à l'instant transculturel dans les littératures contemporaines des Amériques

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2019)

On étudiera les récits individuels liés à de grands récits de légitimation (Lyotard) donc ce qui médiatise la valorisation des objets de désir. La plupart des récits reposent sur la causalité-conséquence et la temporalité menant à la transformation d'un contenu inversé en contenu posé par le biais de conflits (Greimas). Cette causalité mène chez Girard à un ordre fondé sur l'exclusion d'un bouc émissaire. Girard et Greimas travaillent sur des schémas et des concepts qui manifestent des similarités. Leur sont communs objet, vecteur de désir, exclusion et des éléments comme adjuvant/opposant pour Greimas, modèle, groupe imitateur, bouc émissaire pour Girard. Pourtant, aucune recherche avancée ne les compare pour montrer en quoi la narrativité représente jusqu'à récemment un système légitimant des solidarités fondées sur les exclusions et le rejet de l'altérité.



Le français à la mesure d’un continent : un patrimoine en partage

SSHRC-funded MCRI (2011-2017)

Ce projet a pour but d’évaluer l’impact réel des contacts linguistiques et culturels dans les communautés multiculturelles et d’examiner les conditions de maintien du français et des autres langues en situation de contact, du 17e s. à aujourd’hui. Ce faisant, le projet permettra de mesurer les enjeux du français d’Amérique du Nord et de façon plus large, de la francophonie à l’ère de la mondialisation.

Aux sources du français québécois (1763-1840): pratiques et discours linguistiques

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2018)

Entre 1763 (Conquête) et 1840 (Acte d’Union), le Québec (Bas-Canada) a connu d’importants changements sociopolitiques qui ont eu un impact sur la circulation des représentations et des usages du français tel que pratiqué dans la province, contribuant ainsi à l’émergence du français Québécois comme variété distincte. Parallèlement, après la Révolution française de 1789, de nouveaux usages linguistiques dans la métropole ont entraîné un écart avec ceux en usage au Québec. Or, peu d’études se sont penchées sur la période après-Conquête au Canada français dans une perspective sociolinguistique, et aucune, à notre connaissance, ne s’est intéressée aux liens entre pratiques réelles des locuteurs et discours métalinguistiques pour cette période charnière dans la formation du français québécois. Notre projet a pour but de combler cette lacune en prenant appui sur les acquis de la sociolinguistique historique. L’originalité de notre projet réside dans : 1) l’articulation entre les usages et les discours sur la langue; 2) l’étude du changement linguistique à travers des corpus peu explorés jusqu’à maintenant; 3) la réflexion théorique sur le changement linguistique à partir d’une analyse de la grammaire des vernaculaires.

Notre programme permettra de comprendre l’émergence du français laurentien par rapport à d’autres variétés de français, et le rôle joué par les réseaux sociaux, institutionnels et médiatiques. Ce faisant, il permettra de mieux saisir les enjeux de la francophonie d’aujourd’hui. En effet, en ce XXIe siècle d’échanges culturels accrus en raison de la mondialisation, les représentations et les pratiques sont des indicateurs de la vitalité linguistique des communautés et il est important de comprendre comment elles ont contribué à façonner les identités.



Jacques Ferron et Jean Marcel: correspondance 1965-1985

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2017)

Nous souhaitons faire l’édition, l’annotation et la publication de la correspondance complète ( 632 lettres entre 1965-1985) entre Jacques Ferron, écrivain dont la réputation n’est plus à faire, et Jean Marcel, pseudonyme de Jean-Marcel Paquette, aujourd’hui professeur retraité de l’Université Laval, éminent médiéviste, romancier et spécialiste de l’œuvre ferronienne. L’intérêt de cette correspondance réside dans le fait qu’il s’agit d’une amitié épistolaire qui se poursuit pendant 20 ans entre deux écrivains érudits qui aborderont, avec une vision pénétrante et dans une langue magnifique, des domaines aussi variés que les écrits de la Nouvelle-France, l’Amérique Amérindienne, Voltaire, Gide, Nietszche, les monographies paroissiales du Québec, le français en Gaspésie, et bien d’autres choses. Le savoir de ces deux correspondants fait donc en sorte de dépasser le contenu prévisible d’une lettre pour devenir une immense leçon d’histoire, de sociologie, de philosophie et de littérature tant québécoise qu’internationale.



Le Canada de Jules Verne : savoirs, représentations, imaginaire social

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2019)

Ce projet de recherche porte sur Jules Verne et le Canada. L'auteur des «Voyages extraordinaires» est le seul auteur majeur du XIXe siècle français qui se soit intéressé de manière soutenue au Canada, qu'il appelait «mon pays de prédilection» (lettre à Pierre-Jules Hetzel du 31 mai 1887). En effet, trois de ses romans sont consacrés au Canada («Le Pays des fourrures», 1873; «Famille-sans-nom», 1889; «Le Volcan d'or», écrit en 1899, première publication posthume en 1906), et des personnages canadiens jouent un rôle important dans d'autres romans tels «Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers» (1869) et «L'Épave du Cynthia» (1885). Il est pourtant fascinant de constater que, dans toute son existence, Jules Verne aura passé moins de 24 heures au Canada : tout son savoir sur la géographie, l'histoire, l'ethnologie et les moeurs du pays lui proviennent de sources livresques et, surtout, de la presse contemporaine, tant quotidienne que périodique. Jules Verne est en effet un homme en prise directe sur le discours social de son époque, et qui se distingue par la maîtrise qu'il en affiche : tout ce qui s'écrit, se pense et se représente dans la presse et la littérature contemporaine pénètre ses notes de lecture et la composition de ses romans. Il explique ainsi sa méthode de travail dans un entretien de 1893 accordé au journaliste Robert Sherard : «J'ai toujours avec moi un carnet et, comme ce personnage de Dickens [Mr. Pickwick], je note d'emblée tout ce qui m'intéresse ou pourrait me servir pour mes livres. [...] [J]e lis d'un bout à l'autre quinze journaux différents, toujours les quinze mêmes, et je peux vous dire que très peu de choses échappent à mon attention».

Les représentations que Jules Verne donne de son «pays de prédilection» constituent ainsi le laboratoire idéal pour réfléchir à la notion d'imaginaire social : à partir de quelles explorations du discours social un lecteur compulsif et éclairé comme Jules Verne parvient-il à fixer des représentations précises et informées d'un pays étranger? Afin de comprendre les fondements de l'imaginaire vernien du Canada, ce projet se fixe donc comme premier objectif de cartographier et d'analyser l'imaginaire du Canada qui circule dans l'imprimé, en France, entre 1870 et 1900. Il s'agira de procéder à un dépouillement volontairement élargi : revues, grands quotidiens d'information, travaux historiographiques, romans se déroulant au Canada, récits d'exploration, autant de sources qui ont contribué à l'institution imaginaire de ce Canada français d'encre et de papier. Rendue possible par ce travail préalable, la deuxième phase du projet consistera à analyser le Canada de Verne : autant pour ce qu'il récupère de ces discours auxquels il s'abreuve, que ce qu'il construit de particulier dans son oeuvre romanesque, contribuant fortement à l'imaginaire social du Canada qui circule en France dans la deuxième moitié du siècle. Notre projet se situe ainsi au confluent de la sociocritique, de l'analyse des discours et de l'histoire culturelle.


Department of Geography


Ice Dynamics and Cryospheric Changes in Northern Canada

NSERC-funded Discovery Grant (2012-2017)

The central aim of this research program is to improve understanding of ice dynamics and the impacts of climate change on glaciers, ice caps and ice shelves in northern Canada. Glaciers and ice caps have lost substantial thicknesses in recent years, but is little is currently known about how these ice masses move, and how this motion may vary over time in response to climate forcing. This study will therefore produce the first complete velocity maps for all of the glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (Baffin, Devon, Axel Heiberg, Bylot and Ellesmere Islands), together with all of the glaciers within Kluane National Park, Yukon. These measurements will be derived from processing of image pairs collected by the Canadian Radarsat-2 satellite, and will be checked against ground measurement made with different global positioning systems. Simultaneous measurement of factors such as surface melt, snowfall patterns and air temperatures will enable identification of the factors that control ice motion. This information will ultimately improve understanding of the future evolution of ice masses in northern Canada, and improve predictions of future sea level rise. The monitoring of ice shelf changes on northern Ellesmere Island will enable identification of their long-term stability and the factors that have caused their dramatic recent breakups. This will also enable improved assessment of the risks to offshore oil exploration posed by the release of ice islands from ice shelves.


Jackie DAWSON 

Change and Economic Development in Arctic Canada (CEDAC): identifying priorities for policy, governance, and adaptation

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2019)

The circumpolar Arctic is predicted to garner investments ranging from $100bn to $225bn over the next decade as climate change improves international shipping routes and accessibility to natural resources (Mikkola & Käpylä 2013). The Canadian Arctic is central to this economic boom and its vast stores of untouched natural resources and increased access to the Northwest Passage provide enormous opportunities for national prosperity, pride and wealth. Yet for those living there, the Artic is home, and it is experienced quite differently. There are immense social, economic, and environmental challenges facing the remote and predominantly Inuit communities dispersed across the region. In the eyes of these residents, developing the capacity to meet the coming challenges is as pressing as the nation’s need for economic growth. There is an urgent need to understand what will enable the nation to keep pace with circumpolar economic development initiatives while safeguarding the sustainability and well being of local economies and culture.

In addition to the moral duty of a nation to ensure the sustainability and well being of its communities, the land-claim agreements that have been settled between the Government of Canada and Inuit organizations produce an important foundation for local development. They create frameworks for the devolution of power and local control, which are crucial ingredients for improving the outcomes of citizens and in facilitating internally driven and sustained economies (Peterson 1995). However, the upcoming development rush will most certainly challenge the capacity of local organizations, governance bodies, and political structures currently in place.

In this context of a largely externally driven development pathway, it must be questioned whether we have moved past the colonialist history of the region, which included external interventions into nearly every aspect of community life, or whether we are simply modifying the approach to colonization by paying lip service to the current context of an Inuit homeland and territorial government with particular economic and resource responsibilities. The end results of the colonialist history have been devastating and have led to ongoing concerns and poor outcomes for individuals and some communities. The looming economic boom risks similarly poor outcomes unless it is based upon real partnerships and a greater understanding of how communities can leverage development opportunities in ways that can establish self-sustained and locally dictated and desired economies.

This research utilizes a new approach to examining community development in the Canadian Arctic that has substantial potential to co-generate innovative knowledge and policy for much desired socio-economic progress in the region. The project was developed directly with Inuit and regional partners in the territory of Nunavut through a series of workshops and formal and informal conversations over the past two years. Essential authorities and community groups in the region, including Nunavut Tungavik Inc. and hamlet councils of four communities, have provided formal support for the research and a pilot case study has already been completed. The proposal has also been discussed and refined through consultation with relevant federal agencies and it is clearly in line with Canada’s national priority areas, which include improving “development for people in the North”. As the current Chair of Arctic Council, Canada has an important opportunity to lead the international conversation on sustainable economic development of circumpolar communities. The timeless and importance of understanding how we can generate national wealth and ensure sustainable local economies in Arctic Canada is clear.



Evolution of North American Ecosystems over the past 20,000 years

NSERC-funded Discovery Grant (2015-2021)

This research program uses a paleoenvironmental approach to understand climate variability and climate change impacts on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. The purpose of the research program is to study the scales and mechanisms of climate variability and to quantify terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem interactions and response to long-term climate variability. The role of human impacts, on a continuum from the first arrival of humans on the continent as the Ice Age was ending, to the introduction of extensive agriculture, the arrival of Europeans and rapid industrialization is a key aspect of the research program Although components of these interactions and processes are studied through various means, in this project the entire period can be studied uniformly and comparably using new data collected for this purpose, but especially through the study of extensive databases of paleoenvironmental data that are rapidly being developed, and to which our lab has made a significant contribution. In the short-term, this is done through four interrelated projects. First, we are developing new paleoclimate reconstructions from Arctic and boreal sites, to better understand the natural variability of the Arctic and to place current warming in context. This uses the early Holocene (5000-9000 years ago), when the Canadian Arctic was quite warm, as a potential, although imperfect analogue of the future and will study in the detail the Medieval period (another relatively warm time) in comparison to today. As the Arctic is changing due to global warming and regional impacts due to resource extraction are increasing, this study will provide insight into what will be these effects in the coming century. These results are put in a global context by a second project reconstructing climate changes of the past 20000 years in the Northern Hemisphere and the world. By better quantifying past climate variability, it will enable climate scientists to place current climate variability in its proper context. Comparing past climate reconstructions with the output of climate models enables climate modellers to improve their models and be able to better forecast the future. New data from the Gatineau Hills will determine how forests respond to long term climate change, and to disturbances such as fire and extensive logging and agriculture. This can be used in forest management, as the timescales of our study is centuries and the impact of current activities is also centuries in length. In addition, we are studying how the lake ecosystems of the region have varied in the past, in relation to the major climate changes, and also by changes in forest composition and land use. This will help to understand how much the lakes of the area have been impacted by events of the past 150 years. A study of the interactions of humans and the environment over the past 15000 in North America will enable us to better understand the impact of European colonization on the landscape. By studying in more detail the nature of the vegetation before the arrival of Europeans, and determining how Native Americans impacted the environment, and were impacted by climate changes of the past, we can better understand how current activities are changing the global carbon balance, as we need a correct baseline on the nature of the forests before the extensive impacts of the industrial age.



Distribution, Origin, Age and Role of Massive Ground Ice in Past, Present and Future Landscape Change

NSERC-funded Discovery Grant (2012-2017)

Over the last few decades, permafrost temperatures have increased across the Arctic in response to the 20th century climate change. Ice-rich periglacial environments, where the upper part of permafrost may be 70-90% water by volume, are inherently unstable and may undergo substantial geomorphic modification as landscapes adjust to changing climate. In these regions, the development of thaw slumps is one of the most dramatic manifestations of degradation of ice-rich permafrost. The thaw slumps are already causing impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and are becoming a major concern for local Arctic communities. It is expected that the increasing number and size of thaw slumps will have major hydrogeomorphic consequences. This research is divided into a series of interrelated projects: 1) Investigating the distribution, growth and stabilization rates of thaw slumps; 2) Determining the origin, age and habitability of ice-rich permafrost by developing new and expanding current techniques for occluded gases measurements in ice; 3) Quantify the impacts of thaw slumps on hydrogeomorphology – the emergence of the “degrading massive ground ice fluvial regime”. The results of this research will greatly increase our knowledge about the distribution, characteristics and age of massive ground ice in western Arctic Canada. This information is essential for: 1) determining the relation between ice-rich permafrost, regional Pleistocene glacial limits and surface geology; 2) assessing the response of ice-rich permafrost to the last time that the Arctic was warmer than current conditions; 3) understanding the potential drivers of thermokarst processes, in particular in relation to growth and stabilization of thaw slumps; 4) assessing the hydrogeomorphic impacts of thaw slumps in the landscape; and 5) predicting regional hydrogeomorphic responses of ice-rich permafrost landscape to future climate change.



Characteristics and evolution of discontinous permafrost in northern Canada at multiple spatial scales

NSERC-funded Discovery Grant (2014-2019)

Discontinuous permafrost can be thought of as a partchwork, with seasonally frozen areas and water bodies interfingering with patches of perennially frozen earth materials that vary in size, spatial concentration, thickness, depth to the permafrost table, and thermal regime. Some thin permafrost patches have mean temperatures just a few hundredths of a degree below 0°C, so their thaw due to recent and future climate warming may occur relatively rapidly. Others may take many decades to thaw following climatic warming unless affected simultaneously by changes in drainage. This research program examines the variation in permafrost distribution and temperature characteristics at micro-, local and regional scales along transects in the Yukon and Labrador, extending from the zone of isolated patches (1-10% of the terrain underlain by permafrost) northward, or upward, to the zone of continuous permafrost (>90% of the terrain underlain by permafrost). The findings will address fundamental questions about the way ground temperature, and hence permafrost distribution, varies along climatic gradients. They will also examine how permafrost distribution changes as the climate warms. The results will assist in better representing discontinuous permafrost in global and regional climate models. In addition, they will be pertinent to predictions of the rate of thaw of permafrost and hence to the potential for positive feedback in the global climate system due to stored carbon release. A combination of field monitoring, geophysical techniques, computer modeling as well as traditional aerial photo interpretation and remote sensing will be used to carry out the research program. The work will involve the training of several graduate students, as well as collaboration with federal government, provincial and territorial-based researchers, and communities. The results are expected to be relevant to assessing the impacts of thawing permafrost on the hydrology and ecology of permafrost regions, as well as helping predict and mitigate the impacts of permafrost degradation on northern infrastructure and resource development.


Department of History


Building the Revolution Abroad: Mozambique and East Germany, c. 1960-1990

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2015-2019)

When Germans began to dismantle the Berlin Wall in October 1989, soon followed by the reunification of East and West Germany, the ensuing political transformation uprooted thousands of young Africans from Mozambique living in what was East Germany. Over East Germany’s last decade of existence, a state-to-state cooperation agreement between the two countries sent more than 20,000 young Mozambicans to Berlin, Dresden, and dozens of small towns throughout East Germany’s industrial heartland, where they received training and worked in textile, electronics, chemicals, and food processing factories. In gaining new skills and new experiences in a “brother” socialist nation, they were to become “new men of the revolution” and then return home to continue the socialist transformation of their own society.

This project will tell a story hardly known outside its general outlines and, moreover, will establish a model for transnational social history, showing that research—like the history it examines—must cross state boundaries, both in method and in the frameworks used. The research explores the historical connection between the two countries, going back to its origins in Mozambique’s anti-colonial struggle of the 1960s and the GDR’s efforts to position itself as the champion of the Third World (as it was then called) in the global north. In tracing the history of their experience in East Germany, the research examines their relationships with fellow workers—German and African—at work and in social spaces away from the factory; how they negotiated the extensive official controls on their movement; and the strategies they developed to maintain wider connections, both within East Germany and with their home country. This project will develop a narrative that explores both ends of the history, bringing them together in a single whole, showing how this movement of young African workers joins together the history of labour, the global history of the Cold War, and the trajectory of an independent African state.


Beatrice CRAIG

Pewter dishes and chamber Pots: Was there a “consumer revolution” in Pre-Confederation Eastern Canada (1765-1865)?

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2012-2017)

In 1778, customers at Simonds, Hazen and White, who operated a general store at the mouth of the barely inhabited St John River valley (N.B.) were purchasing pewter dishes and expensive imported fabric. Three quarter of a century later, their descendants were buying cheap cotton and earthenware instead. The new patterns of consumption were partly supply-led: larger quantities of increasingly cheaper goods in greater varieties were coming on the market. This however cannot explain adequately the presence of pewter and fancy European fabric on the shelves of a store in the semi-wilderness in the late eighteenth century, or why anyone would want them; nor can it explain their absence in the nineteenth century, or the popularity of gingham and chamber pots.

Consumption was also a way of defining one’s identity, signalling one’s place in the social hierarchy and asserting the legitimacy of one’s power. The goal of this project is to explore investigate the relationship between consumption patterns (as revealed by general store account books), and socio-political changes in the northern British colonies from the Conquest to Confederation. It seeks to find out whether the new consumption patterns were also linked with the gradual shift from a society of ranks dominated by the aristocracy to a society of class dominated by the middle classes.



Jewish Survival Strategies. Poland 1942-1945

SSHRC-funded Partnership Development Grant (2013-2016)

The goal of this project is to conduct an inquiry into the survival strategies of Jews who went into hiding in several pre-selected, rural counties of the Warsaw, Radom, Cracow, Galizien and Lublin Districts of occupied Poland (reorganized by the Germans into a rump state known as the Generalgouvernement). The new historical evidence, made recently available to scholars, significantly expands our knowledge regarding the fate of the Jews who went into hiding in Poland, following the mass deportation of Jewish masses to the extermination camps, in the spring and summer of 1942 Historians agree that at least 250,000 Polish Jews sought refuge “on the Aryan side”, among the gentile population. From among them about 30,000 survived the war while the fate of the rest remains, for the most part, unknown. The “human horizon” of unknown and unreported victims is, therefore, larger than 200,000 people – in the Generalgouvernement alone. The goal of this project will be to shed as much light as possible on the fate of these people – both survivors and those who died while in hiding. The project will study in detail the interaction between the Jews, the German civil and police authorities and the surrounding “gentile” society. On the one hand the study will allow to identify the social and economic profile of these Jews who made an active attempt to resist the deportations, and who sought shelter. It will also enable us to tie their strategies of survival (living in the open, using false identities, hiding in bunkers in remote areas, living in shelters provided by the “Aryans” etc.) to the question of the chances of their survival. On the other hand, it will help to identify non-Jews who took active part either in sheltering, or in harming the Jewish refugees. This way, the project will bring us closer to answering fundamental questions about human motivations (help/indifference/harm) at the time of great social tension and under grave strain associated with the political regime based on terror.



Polish "Blue" Police, Bystanders and the Holocaust in Occupied Poland 1939-1945

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2020)

The Holocaust has been an object of intense historical scrutiny at least since the late 1960s. Surprisingly, however, there are still significant areas of study which have never been properly addressed. This research proposal wishes to explore an issue largely neglected by historians and which, at the same time, has a crucial importance for our knowledge of the period, for the shape of current debates about the moral condition of the European societies, and which will offer new paths for further research. The project will thus examine the role of the "Blue" police in mobilizing "bystanders" into direct action against the Jews. The police, through its dense network of paid and unpaid informers and due to the many informal links with the local communities, and the local administration, was able to create a system of repression which, for the Jews in hiding, proved to be more deadly than its centralized, German counterpart.


Micheline LESSARD

Illegal Recruitment, the Criminalization and Vietnamese workers, and the Question of Migrants in French Colonial Indochina, 1890-1940

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2021)

This research proposes to examine two closely linked phenomena. The first was the development of an illegal, criminal, network of labour brokers who were either Chinese or Vietnamese, and who, for a fee, would find labourers for the recruiters and for the plantation and mine owners. The second, related, phenomenon pertains to the "criminalization" of workers on the plantations and in mines. Desperate for manpower much of the time, owners of these business ventures would at times "hold" workers against their will, even shooting some as they tried to escape.


Sylvie PERRIER  

La juridiction du ventre: droit et pratiques judiciaires liés à la procréation dans la France d'Ancien Régime

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2013-2018)

La monarchie de la France d’Ancien Régime a initié au 16e siècle une offensive juridique qui avait pour but d’établir plus fermement sa juridiction sur les familles. Associés informellement au pouvoir dans ce que l’historienne Sarah Hanley a qualifié de « family-state compact », les juristes français ont contribué à cette entreprise d’élaboration et d’interprétation du droit de la famille pour soutenir leur propre position au sein de l’État et de la société française. Encadrer juridiquement la famille signifiait de contrôler les conditions et les effets de la procréation. Les juristes ont donc puisé dans les diverses sources du droit pour élaborer un discours et des usages qui limitaient le contrôle que les femmes avaient sur leur propre corps, dans le but de mieux encadrer la transmission du patrimoine et de favoriser la stabilité des familles du royaume. Ils ont ainsi défini les contours d’une juridiction du ventre féminin et de son contenu, l’enfant à naître. Dans la pratique juridique et devant les tribunaux, cette juridiction du ventre féminin a fait l’objet de multiples contestations, les futures mères contribuant autant à revendiquer leur juridiction sur le ventre qu’à en contester le contrôle par les hommes ou les agents de l’État. La pratique de la curatelle au ventre, qui consistait à nommer un curateur pour surveiller une veuve enceinte et préserver les droits de l’héritier à naître, illustre bien cette volonté de contrôle. Que cette pratique ait été inscrite sans débat au Code civil de 1804 (article 393) et n’ait été abolie en France que lors de la réforme des dispositions sur la tutelle en 1964 soulève d’intéressantes questions que cette recherche vise à élucider. Le projet a pour objectif premier d’analyser les relations entre l’État, le droit et le corps des femmes dans la France d’Ancien Régime et de comprendre comment le discours et les pratiques juridiques sur la procréation s’articulaient avec les savoirs médicaux et la culture religieuse de l’époque. Ce projet entend également développer le concept de culture juridique dans l’analyse des relations de genre et ainsi produire une réflexion sur le long terme autour des enjeux de la procréation en suivant la postérité du discours juridique d’Ancien Régime.

Ce projet fera une contribution marquée à l’histoire du droit français, qui dépasse les frontières de l’Hexagone, à une histoire du corps féminin en plein développement, de même qu’à l’histoire politique des femmes. Il montrera que le droit civil, encore trop peu exploité en histoire, est une composante essentielle pour notre compréhension des relations de genre et de pouvoir. Ce projet se veut aussi un outil de réflexion dans les débats contemporains sur la procréation, constamment renouvelés par les développements scientifiques et un contexte religieux mondialisé.



Activism Along the Global Fringe: Rogue Lawyers, International Law and Africa's Legal Construction

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2020)

By following activist lawyers and their defendants in the League of Nations mandate territories and the United Nations trust territories of Africa from the 1920s to the 1970s, this project will interconnect and make original contributions to the dynamic fields of international history, human rights history, legal history, and the history of Africa and the African diaspora. It will examine the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, as networking hubs for Africans' politically and legally constructed rights claims that crossed imperial, racial and linguistic boundaries.


Department of Modern Languages and Literatures


Sophia Tolstaya's correspondence with Leo Tolstoy: A personal and professional dialogue

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2015-2019)

This aim of this project is the first-time publication (in four volumes; in the original Russian) of the entire extant correspondence between writer Leo Tolstoy and his wife, Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya, in chronological order, with annotations in English, including, not notably, 201 hitherto unpublished letters from Tolstaya to Tolstoy, as well as her postscripts (all un published) to other people's letter addressed to him. A comprehensive critical study in English of their personal and especially professional relationship, based on their correspondence, is planned as a fifth volume.

The proposed project is highly interdisciplinary in nature, reaching far beyond strictly Tolstoy research - into history, sociology, culturology and gender studies. It will serve not only seasoned acdemics but also the next generation of yound scholars, in addition to members of the general public. The project as envisioned, chronicling and examining imporant personal and professional exchanges between two significant Russian figure of the turn of the 20th century, will prove a landmark and referential publication for many years to come.


Rebecca MARGOLIS  

Cultural Transmission after Catastrophe: Yiddish in Canada After the Holocaust

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2013-2018)

How do civilizations respond to catastrophe? They can heal, memorialize and commemorate. They also can salvage and rebuild, or build anew. This research illuminates a highly instructive case of an ethnic/religious group that continues to revitalize and renew its cultural legacy after massive upheaval. Specifically, it examines how Canadian Jews have engaged with the Yiddish cultural heritage of Eastern Europe following the devastation of the Nazi Holocaust. The findings will offer new sites for exploring the role of culture as a collective response to experiences of loss.

The heartland of a multifaceted diasporic Yiddish civilization, with its thousand year-old roots in Europe, was decimated in the Nazi Holocaust. In contrast to a pre-War transnational network of Jewish cultural centres in which Yiddish served as lingua franca as well as vehicle of revitalization in forums ranging from the political arena to the arts, Yiddish after the Holocaust faced worldwide displacement. However, due to the particular dynamics of Jewish integration within a multicultural Canada, Yiddish has continued to offer a viable usable past as well as a strong basis for cultural innovation in the shift from immigrant to ethnic or heritage language, even as it faced decline as a spoken language within the Jewish mainstream. Rather than jettison Yiddish as it faced attrition or relegate it to the realm of memorialization, purveyors of secular Yiddish culture across Canada voiced a deliberate commitment to the language and generated multiple ways to promote the language and its creative output within a community that increasingly did not speak it, notably through translation and performance. Further, Ultra Orthodox (Haredi) Jewish enclaves have revitalized Yiddish as a daily spoken language in their communities. While a core component of the Canadian Jewish experience, Yiddish culture after the Holocaust has not been analyzed in any comprehensive fashion.

This historical study offers a broad and nuanced analysis of Yiddish culture in Canada after the Holocaust in four areas: education, literature, theatre, and music. It considers different manifestations of Yiddish usage over a period of six decades across Canada, notably in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, which have been the sites of innovative and varied developments in Yiddish cultural life. Artifacts of study will include the creative output of Canadian Yiddish writers, both native speakers and Canadian-born or raised; translation projects; the archives of communal organizations such as schools and community theatres; and oral histories with producers and consumers of Yiddish culture from multiple generations of the Jewish community, ranging from the secular through the Ultra Orthodox ends of the spectrum. This data will be employed to discuss how Yiddish has been transmitted intergenerationally as well as cross-culturally, the ways which Yiddish culture offers a site of continuity as well as discontinuity, and the roles that Holocaust discourse has played in this transmission.



"Children of the Enemy": Narrative Constructions of Identity Following Wartime Rape and Transgenerational Trauma in Post-WWII Germany and Post-Conflict Bosnia

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2016-2018)

The present study will explore two little known aspects of two disturbing chapters in 20th century European history: 1) the mass rape of German women by the Red Army in the last months of and in the period following World War II; and 2) the systematic rapes of mainly Muslim Bosnian women by Serbian and Croatian militia during the war in former Yugoslavia between 1992-1995. In both these episodes of mass wartime rape, the women who survived had to cope not only with mental and physical illness but also with unwanted pregnancies. Our analysis seeks to highlight how, on the one hand, these mass rapes affected the mothering practices of the women who were impregnated; and, on the other hand, how the trauma was passed down to the next generation(s) influencing the social position, well-being and identity of the children (in the German case, also possibly the grandchildren) born following the rapes.


School of Information Studies


Collaborative Appraisal Practices and Automated Records Classification: A Study of Email Management in the Government of Canada

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2016-2018)

For the recordkeeping discipline, the process of determining whether a piece of information has value for an institution pertains to the appraisal function. Increased collaboration between the records managers and the records users is becoming critical to deal with the important volume, variety and speed of digital information created and received daily by organizations. The research aims to examine the collaborative appraisal practices of recordkeeping experts and non-experts in order to assist the appraisal process with automatic classification. Through the study of email management in the Canadian Government, the research will investigate: 1) the strategies and criteria shared between recordkeeping experts and non-experts to appraise the value of records; 2) the applicability of genre theory to inform the appraisal of records; 3) the methods and tools to help the appraisal process with automatic classification.


Heather MORRISON  

Sustaining the knowledge commons (open access scholarship)

SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant (2014-2016)

Open access literature is digital, online, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (Suber, 2012). Open access to the scholarly literature is a public good that will “accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge” (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002). Much has been accomplished in transitioning scholarly works to open access in the past decade. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists about 10 thousand fully open access, peer reviewed scholarly journals. The relatively new Directory of Open Access Books lists over 1,500 open access scholarly monographs from more than 50 publishers. There are thousands of open access archives around the world, housing millions of documents. Hundreds of research funding agencies and universities require open access to the results of research they support, as listed in the Registry of Open Access Material Archiving Policies. However, much remains to be done, and in particular there is a need to address the challenge of ensuring sustainable funding mechanisms for open access publishing, especially high-quality publishing led by scholars that is free to prioritize the needs of scholars and the public good (as opposed to the single bottom line of profit). The proposed research would create a macro-level analysis on the economics of an open access scholarly journal publishing system through the examination of three separate but related areas of research: 1. a thorough in-depth analysis on the article processing fees charged by some open access journals; 2. an examination of the resources needed by small not-for-profit scholar-led publishers (e.g. needs for editorial or technical support); and 3. supplementing the work of Edgar & Willinsky (2010) that found an average revenue of $188 per article for journals using Open Journal Systems, by factoring in infrastructure costs for journal hosting services. In addition, the proposed research will help university libraries to make prudent decisions to transition the underlying economics of scholarly publishing (currently the vast majority of funding for the system comes from university library budgets) from a subscriptions / purchase to an open access basis. An open research approach to knowledge dissemination will help journals and libraries struggling with the transition early on in the process through sharing knowledge to date through a dedicated website. This research falls under the SSHRC priority area Digital Economy. Knowledge gained through this project is expected to benefit the other newer “open” movements, including open education, open data and open government through the development of scenarios for transition that might be worth considering in these other areas.


Heather MORRISON  

Sustaining the knowledge commons (open access scholarship)

SSHRC-funded Insight  Grant (2016-2021)

The overarching objective of the proposed research is to understand how best to bring about the transition of published scholarly works to a knowledge commons. One aspect of this research is a focus on the resources needed by small scholar-led journals to thrive in an open access future. This is unique and important; most of the attention, and revenue, goes to a small number of commercial publishers. The portion of the research devoted to modeling and analysis will assist direct and indirect funders of scholarly publishing (university libraries and research funders) to develop best practices for support.


Department of Linguistics


The syntax and semantics of perspectival meanings: a cross-linguistic view

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2019)

How we phrase what we say often conveys information about our perspectives and points of view on the content of our speech. Human languages provide speakers with a broad range of grammatical strategies to express their perspective. These include 'unusual' uses of tenses (like 'future' -ll in English to signal that the speaker has reached a conclusion through her/his own reasoning: "Oh, the lights are on. Jane'll be in her room now."), full-fledged moods (like the Albanian 'admirative mood' with a complete range of tenses used to indicate surprise), and particles indicating the source of evidence (like the hearsay evidentials of Mebengokre). The possibility of coloring what we say with our own perspectives and points of view is a fundamental part of the toolkit that human language makes available to us as speakers and a characterizing feature of human communication. This project investigates how the grammars of the languages we speak shape the perspectives we express by studying the construction of perspectival meanings across different languages.

We characterize perspectival meanings broadly as those that add information centered on the speaker's knowledge, evidence or expectations. Our objectives include a better understanding of cross-linguistic diversity in terms of the grammatical categories that encode speaker-perspective, and a better understanding of how the different grammatical categories themselves shape and systematize the expression of speaker-perspective.



Language Contact and Change in Canada’s Official Languages

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2012-2017)

Spoken vernaculars have always represented an easy target for normative critiques, especially when perceived deviations from the standard are numerous, salient and associated with “bad” grammar. This is particularly true of transplanted and/or minority languages, which are often assumed to have changed, whether because of relative isolation from the conservative influence of the metropolis, long-term contact with a majority language, or both. But our work on many such situations shows that such inferences hinge crucially on 1) how change is defined, 2) the capacity to identify it, especially when it is “in progress”, and 3) the benchmark against which the outcome of the putative change is compared. When the benchmark is a prescribed standard, change is a natural inference, because non-standard variants are prescriptively inadmissible. If a superficially similar construction exists in a neighbouring language, the simplest conclusion is that the change is contact-induced. And this inference is bolstered if speakers happen to incorporate words or phrases from that language when speaking the variety in question. How can we ascertain whether alternation among variant forms is the result of change? How can we determine whether it was contact-induced? This research aims to elucidate the multifarious nature of language change through systematic analysis of speakers’ actual use of French and English in social context. Using innovative methods, we seek to identify, date and document its mechanisms and trajectories, and of particular importance in the Canadian context, distinguish contact-induced change from internal evolution.



The bilingual mental lexicon: the role of age of acquisition and proficiency

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2018)

Do English-French bilinguals represent the word 'snow' in exactly the same way as they represent 'neige'? And, if they hear the word 'snow', do they automatically access the word 'neige'? Are these words processed together in an integrated lexicon? Finding a conclusive answer to these questions is the main goal of this project. Researchers have struggled with the issue of how a bilingual represents the words of their languages. The debate focuses on whether the words of both languages can be found in the same lexicon or whether there is a separate store for the words in each language (e.g., Hernandéz, 2002). This research project tackles the issue of lexical organization by studying English-French bilinguals and second language (L2) learners and compares these groups to monolinguals. Understanding how multiple languages are represented in the mind is essential in order to obtain a full picture of language organization. This research program investigates linguistic processing at the word and sentence level and uses psycholinguistic methodologies. This complements my larger research goals of taking a lifespan approach to the study of how all linguistic levels are organized and processed. The findings will be of fundamental interest to researchers interested in psycholinguistic models of language representation and processing and researchers interested in language learning. Research has shown that there are different ways by which words can be automatically activated within the lexicon. For example, 'snow' is accessed if we hear it or read it. Amazingly, a word can also be activated via connections to associated words (Jackendoff, 2002). This is called spreading activation. The word 'snow' is linked to the word 'blizzard' because their meanings are related. Thus, the word 'snow' activates the word 'blizzard'. How this spreading activation works between items from different languages is hotly debated. Some studies show that such spreading activation is possible between languages, others show that it is not. This is complicated by the numerous types of bilinguals that are traditionally used in this type of research. For example, studies have tested bilinguals who have learned two languages from birth or early in life, bilinguals who have learned a L2 later in life, bilinguals who have not yet attained a high proficiency in their L2, bilinguals whose languages are linguistically related, and bilinguals whose languages are not related. Many of the previous studies have also collapsed the notions of Age of Acquisition (AoA) and proficiency. Overlooking and neglecting these issues has resulted in a lack of homogeneity among the groups in studies of bilingualism. This is a shortcoming to understanding the bilingual mental lexicon because it makes it difficult to draw conclusions from such a wide variety of studies. To address these shortcomings, a critical component of this research is that it will carefully monitor both AoA, proficiency and cognitive control in order to tease these factors apart. Understanding AoA effects has been deemed one of the most important issues in the field of L2 processing (Hakuta, et al., 2003; Hernandez & Li, 2007; Kennedy & Normal, 2005). However, it is likely that AoA alone cannot give a full picture of how multiple languages are represented in the mind and in fact it is likely that effects of proficiency affect organization differently at different times. Adding yet another level of complexity is the issue of cognitive control, a skill that bilinguals are purported to be better at (e.g., Bialystok, 2012).


Tania S.  ZAMUNER 

Spoken word production in early language development

NSERC-funded Discovery Grant (2014-2020)

A wonderful milestone in children’s development is the day they produce their first word. This usually occurs around children’s first birthday. The emergence of spoken word production is even more amazing when we consider the fact that young children are not born with the ability to talk. Within the first 12 months of their lives, they go from having primarily comprehension-based knowledge and transition to a remarkable point in development when they begin to speak. In this short period of time, they have begun to unify their language comprehension and production abilities. This research tackles a fundamental and basic issue of language development: the cognitive processes of spoken word production in children. Central challenges to the learner are to develop mental representations of language, organize these representations, and integrate new representations into existing ones. Empirical studies of developmental speech production can help us understand how learners accomplish these fundamental tasks. This research will use on-line methods, measuring the time it takes to produce a word and tracking children’s eye movements to images as they produce a word. The questions addressed in this research have implications for how we conceive of early language development. These findings will be of interest not only to researchers in cognitive and language sciences, but also to health practitioners interested in tools for clinical assessment and therapy.


School of Music

Lori BURNS  

Constructing Genre in Narrative Music Videos: Intersecting Identities of Gender, Sexuality, Race, Class, Age and Ability in Word, Music and Image

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2013-2018)

Music videos promote popular artists in cultural forms that circulate widely across social media networks. With the advent of YouTube in 2005 and handheld technologies like the Blackberry and iPhone, the music video has become instantly available to millions worldwide and it continues to serve as a fertile platform for the debate of issues and themes in popular culture.

Music videos do important cultural work in terms of how they represent gender, race and sexuality in contemporary society. We argue that these representations are constituted in and through the interrelated configurations of music, lyrics and images and are shaped by the conventions of musical genre and performance. While research on gender representations in music videos tends to focus on how meaning is produced in the visual domain (i.e., images), our study examines how it is produced in the sonic, textual and visual domains. Specifically, our study will develop a more wide-ranging understanding of the roles played by gender, race and sexuality in music videos by conducting a fine-grained analysis of the features of five metagenres: pop, rap, R&B, rock and country.

Our examination of popular music videos maintains a firm focus on issues relating to the exercise and effects of power relations, particularly as they operate in and through representations of masculinities and femininities, racialized identities and alterities, heterosexualities and queer sexualities. Unlike much of the work in popular music studies, our work is just as concerned with the socially marginalized as it is with the socially privileged. With this in view, our approach allows us to ask a number of important questions: (1) In what ways are music videos bound up with specific types of knowledge about the world? (2) How do music videos give rise to particular ways of seeing? (3) How is pleasure bound up in the experience of watching music videos? (4) How are the power relations associated with the politics of gender, race and sexuality resisted through the medium of music videos?


Gilles COMEAU  

La lecture musicale: du débutant à l'expert

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2015-2020)

Cette recherche vise à comprendre le processus d,apprentissage de la lecture musicale afin de pouvoir intervenir plus efficacement au plan pédagogique. La maîtrise du code musical est réussie lorqsue des automatismes sont bien instaurés et que cela conduit à des productions vocales ou instrumentales exprimées avec aisance et précision. Mais la difficulté est de comprendre comment y parvenir. C'est l'objectif de notre projet de recherche.

Le volet en recherche fondamentale contribuera à élaborer un modèle préliminaire expliquant comment s'opère l,apprentissage de la lecture musicale. Nous pourrons ainsi identifier les différents stades initiaux de processus d'apprentissage et rendre compte de la spécificité des trajectoires menant à l,expertise en lecture. Nous porterons une attention toute particulière aux implications pédagogiques de ce modèle. Le volet de recherche appliquée nous permettra d'identifier les facteurs de difficulté dans la progresion des apprentissages en lecture et de découvrir les meilleures stratégies pour apprendre à lire. Les résultats obtenus contribueront à l'amélioration des techniques d'enseignement en proposant de meilleures interventions pédagogiques.


Department of Philosophy

Antoine CÔTÉ 

L'intellect et son objet selon Raoul le Breton

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2013-2016)

Ma recherche porte sur deux Questions du philosophe et théologien du XIVe siècle, Raoul le Breton, qui concernent le problème de la cause et de l’objet de la connaissance, et qui sont conservées dans un manuscrit de la Bibliothèque vaticane (ms. BAV, Vat. Lat. 1086). Raoul est un auteur majeur du début du XIVe siècle. On connaît surtout ses œuvres de logique, de métaphysique et d’éthique; on connaît beaucoup moins bien sa théorie de la connaissance. Or sa contribution en théorie de la connaissance est originale et mérite d’être connue.

Le problème philosophique que soulèvent les deux Questions du Vatican et auquel Raoul tente d’apporter une réponse est de savoir dans quelle mesure l’objet de la connaissance en est en même temps la cause; et, dans la mesure où il en est la cause, si c’est à titre de cause effective ou à titre de simple condition nécessaire (ce qu’il appelle une cause sine qua non). Avant Raoul, et même encore à son époque, plusieurs auteurs tendent à minimiser le rôle de l’objet et à mettre en avant celui de l’esprit humain (« l’intellect » dans le jargon des scolastiques) dans la genèse de l’acte de connaissance. Raoul s’inscrit en faux contre cette tendance. Je veux montrer que des arguments puissants et originaux expliquent cette défiance.

L’éventuelle contribution de ces recherches pourrait être décisive pour ce qui a trait à notre connaissance de Raoul ainsi qu’à celui du problème de l’objet de la connaissance au XIVe siècle, car Raoul apporte des éléments nouveaux dans les Questions du Vatican par rapport à ses discussions antérieures et donnent des raisons nouvelles de douter de la pertinence des arguments avancés par certains de ses prédécesseurs partisans de la thèse que l’objet est une simple cause sine qua non de la connaissance et non une cause effective.


Francisco GONZALEZ  

Martin Heidegger's Unpublished Seminars on Ancient Philosophy: Philosophy's Dialogue with its Past

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2014-2017)

Whether one is in sympathy or not with the controversial contemporary philosopher Martin Heidegger, two facts are indisputable: his influence on subsequent thought, both in and outside of philosophy, has been enormous; at the same time, no other thinker, certainly in the twentieth century but arguably at any time, has pursued such an intense and long dialogue with thinkers of the past and especially with those Greek thinkers that gave philosophy both its origin and its name. The latter aspect of Heidegger's thought has become fully evident only with the gradual and continuing publication of his lecture courses and seminars. However, even this material does not provide the full picture. With the aid of an earlier SSHRC grant I set out to explore the full scope of Heidegger's dialogue with Aristotle, a dialogue that like no other shaped his own thought. I was then aware of a few unpublished seminars Heidegger gave during the 1920's. Therefore, part of my project was to explore the student transcripts. In the process I learned two things that form the basis for the present project. First, the unpublished material was much more extensive than I had anticipated. Not only did the seminars I already knew of prove more substantial than expected, but I also discovered several extremely important seminars previously unknown to me (and to all other scholars). Secondly, within the last year was finally published in Heidegger's collected works (Gesamtausgabe) a large volume dedicated to his seminars. To my surprise, however, this volume contained only one of the seven seminars on Aristotle from the 1920s I had come across in my research (and with what I know to be the crucial final session of that seminar missing!), something especially surprising in that there is no plan for another volume of seminars. Also, an extremely important course on Plato's Parmenides for which detailed student notes exist in the Marcuse Archive in Frankfurt was published only in a form so schematic and fragmentary as to be incomprehensible. Presumably, the reason is that the Gesamtausgabe volume was based on Heidegger's own notes and on official protocols preserved in the Heidegger archive at Marbach, Germany, and that no such notes or protocols exist for the other seminars. While student transcripts must be treated with some hermeneutical suspicion, especially when there is no text by Heidegger against which to check them, I am convinced that in particular the very detailed and extensive notes preserved at Stanford University among the papers of Heidegger's student Helene Weiss (notes clearly taken not only by Weiss but by several students) cannot be ignored, as they give evidence of aspects of Heidegger's reading of Greek Philosophy that, while presupposed by what is found in the published texts, are not themselves to be found there as such. I propose, then, to reconstruct all the unpublished seminars on Ancient Philosophy, where this involves the following: 1) deciphering the handwriting (as all the student transcripts are handwritten) and transcribing the result; 2) providing, on the basis of these deciphered notes, a paraphrase and exposition of Heidegger's reading throughout the seminars; 3) providing a critical apparatus that discusses difficult and unclear points in the seminars, compares what is found in the published texts, provides the broader context of the Aristotelian and Platonic texts of which Heidegger is interpreting specific passages, and compares Heidegger's interpretations to others in the contemporary literature. The outcome will be a companion volume supplying the materials on which I will largely base a book-length critical analysis of Heidegger's reading of Aristotle for which I began the research under my previous SSHRC grant.



Political Philosophy and the Idea of Religion

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2016-2021)

This project evolved from my work on secularism and religious identity over the past several years, which increasingly led to a questioning and problematization of the idea of religion as it functions within social and political philosophy. The project seeks to unpack the features of this cultural phenomenon, or complex of phenomena, that need to be noted and analyzed in order to promote social justice and mutual understanding in liberal democratic societies. With this pragmatic goal in mind, my inquiry is structured around two overlapping aspects of the category of religion: 1) religion as system of belief, and 2) religion as group identity. The project looks particularly at discussions within political philosophy about the place of religion within public discourse; framings of religion within judicial reasoning; and debates surrounding religious education. I aim to locate possible instabilities and points of incoherence within and between interpretations of religion at such sites, on the part both of those who advance religious claims in public spheres and those who respond to them, and ask how these may be remedied.


Department of Theatre


Représenter le roi. Tragédie et politique à la Renaissance (1550-1598)

SSHRC-funded Insight Grant (2012-2017)

Ce projet de recherche a pour objectif d’examiner la représentation dramaturgique et scénique des figures du pouvoir politique à la Renaissance, à une époque où la France vit l’une des pires crises politiques de son histoire et où les élites ressentent l’urgence de penser la figure du chef de l’État. La période étudiée est celle des guerres de Religion, de la Ligue et de la succession d’Henri III, période où l’autorité du monarque s’avère violemment contestée. L’analyse portera sur un corpus de tragédies écrites et représentées par des réformés et des catholiques dans la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle (1550-1598), afin d’y cerner les modalités de représentation des figures d’autorité politique à travers la dramaturgie tragique, les techniques de jeu et la mise en scène théâtrale en usage à l’époque. À partir de cette analyse, il s’agira de mesurer la portée didactique, encomiastique, polémique ou même subversive du théâtre tragique en rapport avec la pensée et les événements politiques de la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle, et de s’interroger sur le rôle qu’a pu jouer le théâtre tragique (mis en scène et publié) dans la diffusion des idées et des positions politiques défendues par les protestants et les catholiques au cours des guerres civiles.

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