EGSA Social Coordinator, CUPE 2626 Recording Officer and PhD Candidate

PhD English Literature, University of Ottawa (2018-present)
MA Literary Studies, University of Waterloo (2014-2015)
BA (Hons.) English Literature, University of Waterloo (2010-2014)

Room: MHN 325

Work E-mail:


Current Research

Carly Atkinson (she/her) is a PhD candidate who specializes in Canadian genre fiction, postcolonialism, materiality, spatial literary theory and geocriticism. 

Her dissertation, Canadian Detectives Abroad and at Home: A Spatial Perspective on Contemporary Canadian Detective Fiction, will explore two glaring gaps in the field of Canadian detective fiction: in its history and in its unique, postcolonial sense of spatiality. Her dissertation will chronicle the history of anglophone Canadian detective fiction, firmly establishing its roots in international literary traditions (particularly in British movements) and outlining its development from Canada’s national beginnings onward. Building upon scholarly chronologies of the genre, such as David Skene-Melvin’s “Canadian Crime Writing in English,” this work will extend the historical canon into the 21st century and expand it beyond its current Eurocentric scope.

Additionally, her dissertation will consider how contemporary Canadian detective fiction reflects postcolonial ways of conceptualizing and representing space and place. Appropriating and adapting conventions that are deeply rooted in British environs, she argues that works in this genre are uniquely useful tools for considering the ambivalently pro- and anti-colonial underpinnings of Canadian identity. Using a genre which fixates on crime scenes and the movement of bodies through meaningfully coded spaces (Hartman 212), her dissertation will spatially locate sites of settler-colonial longing in Canada and Great Britain, explore land-based Indigenous community-building in relation to settler-colonial deterritorialization, and navigate the layered place-making and multi-national subjecthood of migrant writers in Canada.

Her work will read select novels by Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, Edmund Crispin and Dorothy Sayers, among others, against C.C Benison’s Her Majesty Investigates trilogy, Thomas King's DreadfulWater series and Ausma Zehanat Khan's Essa Khattak and Rachel Getty series, and will focus on these uniquely Canadian depictions of spaces and places.


Outside of her doctoral work, Carly bakes, helps with grant proposal writing for indie video game companies, and plays Dungeons & Dragons with a group of lawyers. She is also currently serving as the Social Coordinator for the English Graduate Students' Association (EGSA) and the Recording Officer for CUPE 2626, the union for TAs, RAs, correctors, proctors, lifeguards and resident workers at uOttawa.


Fields of Interest

Canadian and British literary identities  
Contemporary Canadian literature  
Detective and mystery fiction
Genre and popular fiction
Spatial literary theory


Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE)
Crime Studies Network (CSN)
Modern Language Association (MLA)
Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA)

Conference Presentations

"With a Rebel (River) Yell: Revolutionary Rivers, Relational Presence and the Expanded Self in Rita Wong and Fred Wah's beholden: a poem as long as the river." National Conference, Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, Edmonton. 29 May 2021.

"The Multimodal Memory of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt." English Graduate Students' Association Conference, University of Ottawa, Ottawa. 5 Mar. 2021.

“Murdering the Past: Coming to Terms with Nostalgia in ITV’s Adaptation of The Moving Finger." National Conference, Popular Culture Association/American Culture
Association, San Diego. 14 Apr. 2017.

Guest Lectures

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Its Debt to Crime Fiction.” ENGL 108P: Popular Potter, Waterloo, University of Waterloo. 24 May 2018. Guest Lecture.


Scholarships and Awards

David Clever Scholarship (2018)
University of Ottawa Admission Scholarship (2018)
University of Waterloo Arts Graduate Experience Award (2014, 2015)
University of Waterloo Merit Scholarship (2010)  
Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship (2010)

Fields of Interest

  • Contemporary Canadian literature; detective fiction; geocriticism; spatiality; national identity and postcolonialism
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