Tania Aguila-Way - This was the perfect place to work on an interdisciplinary project

Tania Aguila-Way - Graduate Student - with colleague

My research explores the relationship between contemporary Canadian literature, environmental activism, and the scientific discourses that mediate environmental debates, particularly those surrounding the colonization of life via the genetic modification and patenting of living organisms. This line of inquiry grew out of my growing sense, as a literary scholar interested in the burgeoning fields of ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, that writing about questions of environmental justice requires a willingness to engage not just with multiple constituencies, including scientific and activist communities, but also with interdisciplinary forms of knowledge production.

I initially chose to undertake my research at the University of Ottawa because of its reputation as a leading centre for the study of Canadian literature, and because of its proximity to such cultural institutions as the National Library and Archives, the National Arts Centre, and the National Gallery of Canada. However, as I learned more about the program and the faculty members, I realized that this was the perfect place to work on an interdisciplinary project such as the one I had hoped to undertake, since the program equips students with a rigorous grounding in literary history while also challenging them to engage with current discussions in critical and cultural theory and allowing them the freedom to pursue diverse research interests. The department’s collegial atmosphere also encourages students to forge collaborative relationships with peers and faculty members alike. In my own case, I had the privilege of working with two co-supervisors, Dr. Jennifer Blair and Dr. Anne Raine, whose patient guidance and enthusiasm for interdisciplinary thought helped me to negotiate the multiple strands of literary and critical theory that inform my research. Working Dr. Blair and Dr. Raine not only gave me access to a wide breath of literary and critical expertise, but also modeled the kinds of research collaborations I hope to pursue as I continue my work in the environmental humanities. I feel lucky to have worked in a department where I was able to form such relationships and am going to miss my time at the University of Ottawa.

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