Since 1977, the Institute has offered annual Resident Fellowships to faculty members at the University of Calgary. Awards are given to support specific research projects and provide the recipient with release from a portion of their teaching obligations. Without such leave time, the scholarly output that is crucial to a university’s mandate would be substantially reduced.
We are grateful to our donors and to the Faculty of Arts for providing this support to our scholars.
2022-23 CIH Resident Fellows
The Calgary Institute for the Humanities is proud to announce the recipients of our 2022-23 Resident Fellowships and Graduate Student Fellowship. These awards recognize the excellence of the recipients' research projects and their scholarly accomplishments. We are grateful to our community of donors and to the Faculty of Arts for making these awards possible and allowing our scholars the time to focus on their research.
CIH Resident Fellow
Department of English
Neural Netfics: Science Fiction Stories for You and Other Machine Learners
Today, machine learning (ML) is everywhere. Take for instance facial recognition algorithms; self-driving cars; virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri; and Aibo the robot dog. Given this technology’s ubiquity, it is unsurprising that machine learners are also found in contemporary science fiction (SF). In this project, I theorize what I am calling “Neural Netfics”: SF narratives that explore the possibilities of neural computing ML, written by authors such as Ted Chiang, Catherynne Valente, Annalee Newitz, and Peter Watts. Informed by Alan Turing’s pioneering work in neural computing, this study argues that neural networks furnish SF with speculative sites for the imagining of diverse modes of machinic cognition and sensation which traverse a wide spectrum of virtual posthuman possibilities. Neural Netfics speculate on the advent of software objects that are bona-fide lifeforms in themselves that entail ethical consideration and that inaugurate new possibilities for living intimately and ecologically with humans.
CIH Resident Fellow
Department of Communication, Media and Film
The Colonizer Who Refuses: René Vautier and the Horizons of Solidarity
In the 1950s and 1960s, René Vautier was the only French filmmaker known to have documented the social and economic vicissitudes of revolutionary Algerian society. Over the course of the Algerian War, he established the Front de Libération National’s film unit, trained key Algerian filmmakers, recorded the first-ever combat documentary, L’Algérie en flammes (1957), and collaborated with Frantz Fanon on a film about the war’s traumatic impact on Algerian children, J’ai huit ans (1962). Following independence, Vautier aided in founding Algeria’s film industry, and administered two ciné-vans across hundreds of locations to project pedagogical films for the nation’s peasantry. Yet despite his crucial importance as a film artist and educator, Vautier’s work has almost vanished from orthodox Anglophone film scholarship. This research project will examine Vautier’s filmography in its broader institutional and biographical contexts.
I will explore how Vautier’s alliance with the FLN remained a precarious one, marked by collisions of ideological orientation and communicative double binds. Caught between the application of a set of values borrowed from the resistance and a colonial situation that required new ways of knowing, Vautier confronted the horizons of solidarity.
Department of History
(Hi)Stories of Energy Transitions
As current discussions revolve around decarbonizing the economy, net zero emissions targets and the upcoming global energy transition, understanding society’s role in such transformative processes will be paramount. Recognizing that energy transitions also include social and cultural transformations and conceptualizing energy systems and regimes as socially constructed and narrated, this project studies both the histories of specific energy transitions in the past as well as the many stories that have been created to make sense of and frame these transformative processes. It investigates how individuals, communities and nations have caused, adapted to and rejected changes in energy systems providing a better understanding of historical resilience and agency while facilitating empathy, especially since energy transitions are often connected to processes of deindustrialization and always entail winners and losers. Different societies and cultures have responded differently to and created different stories about the same energy challenges. This diversity of historical experiences and narratives highlights how important it is that we know more about our energy pasts. Such historical knowledge facilitates informed discussions about our energy futures that include and give voice to every citizen and have the potential to facilitate the creation of just and sustainable policies.
McCready Emerging Fellow
Instructor, Arabic Language and Muslim Cultures
School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures
The Clear Arabic Qur’ān:Al-Bāqillānī’s Islamic Theory of Language
Abū Bakr al-Bāqillānī (d. 1013 CE) was one of classical Islam’s leading scholars; his thought played a key role in the formation of Islamic thought. While scholarship has addressed his contributions to individual disciplines, the overarching themes that characterize his work have gone unexplored. As this project demonstrates, the most prominent idea that runs through al-Bāqillānī’s oeuvre is a concern with establishing the status of the Qurʾān as clear and comprehensible to its human audience. This concern stems from the recognition that establishing the stable accessibility of Qurʾānic meaning was of great importance for a tradition in which the Qurʾān is a central source of authority. By establishing that the Qurʾān’s meanings are accessible to its human audience in methodologically rigorous ways, al-Bāqillānī places the institution of Islamic thought on a firmer theoretical foundation. This project contributes to interdisciplinary understandings of Arabo-Islamic thought and its approaches to language and communication.
Naomi Lacey Resident Fellow
Professor and Chair of Christian Thought
Department of Classics and Religion
Breaking the Glass Pulpit: Women Preachers in an Age of Silence
Medieval scholasticism defined preaching as a sacerdotal/male office. But did this mean medieval and early modern women in western Europe never preached nor gave sermons? My research establishes that women did preach in various ways. It shows that nuns and laywomen (e.g., Umiltà of Faenza (d. 1310); Chiara of Rimini (d. 1324); Juana de La Cruz d. 1534; Stefana Quinzani (d. 1530) gave sermons in convents and publicly in churches and secular courts. My study argues that medieval sermons were more nuanced than contemporary scholarship recognizes; in so doing, this project illuminates the misunderstood context of female preaching. It re-evaluates pre-modern attitudes toward learning, gender and authority, demonstrating that women as preachers played a pivotal role in medieval education and the devotional life of men and women in premodern Europe.
CIH Frances Spratt Graduate Student Fellow
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Regenerating Roots: Community-Driven Food Networks in Moh’kinstsis
Situated as an activist-scholar and small-scale farmer in Moh’kinstsis (colonially known as Calgary in Southern Alberta, Canada), my experiential doctoral research will engage with regenerative growing practices to enhance local food resilience and foster more socially inclusive spaces that are decolonial in nature. To support movements of resistance to male-dominated industrialized agro-food systems, this work will strengthen scalable agrarian alliances through a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. Within a CBPR framework, the questions, objectives, methods, and hopeful outcomes have been developed in collaboration with key counterparts. Our central research question asks: How and to what extent can community-driven food networks regenerate the land and relational fabric of society? Combining hands-on growing with farm tours, learning walks, sharing circles, and storytelling, I will work alongside citizen researchers to build capacity in urban agriculture as a tool for wider social transformation.