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CIH Annual Fellows Announcement 2019-20

The CIH is happy to announce the Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year.   The work of these impressive scholars represents the breadth of the fascinating research taking place in the humanities at the University of Calgary, from ancient religion to contemporary children's literature and beyond.  This is the second year for our two new resident fellowships: the Wayne O. McCready Resident Fellowship for an Emerging Scholar and the Naomi Lacey Memorial Fellowship, sponsored by the Naomi and John Lacey Foundation for the Arts.  Congratulations to all and we look forward to supporting you in your research.

 Lindsay Driediger-Murphy

Associate Professor
Department of Classics and Religion

Roman Religious Anxieties

This project demonstrates that many Romans experienced fear and anxiety when interacting with their gods, and considers why anxiety-inducing ways of characterizing the gods rise to prominence in certain contexts in Roman history. To date there has been no systematic study of what Romans believed about the character of their gods. Most scholars hold that Romans saw their gods as benevolent by default. My project seeks to recover a different strand of Roman theology. I identify three key contexts in which Roman sources express concern about the reliability and loyalty of the gods: the Roman conquest of Italy, the Second Punic War, and the collapse of the Late Republic. In each of these periods, I argue, we can see Romans confronting the possibility that the gods might give or transfer their support to Rome’s enemies. This conclusion encourages us to re-evaluate our reconstructions of Roman conceptions of divine-human relationships.

Derritt Mason

Assistant Professor
Department of English

The Virtual Child: Children’s Literature and Digital Culture

The Virtual Child explores the pre-digital history of “the virtual” in order to think through young people’s digital virtualities with greater nuance. This history illuminates how digital virtual space is a site for contemporary iterations of longstanding anxieties and desires surrounding the child’s own virtual qualities. Drawing on the etymology of “virtual,” The Virtual Child argues that we can characterize children’s literature—including its digital texts—as a genre that typically attempts to manage the child’s virtuality. More specifically, children’s literature aims to instill virtue (purity and moral goodness) in the child, while delimiting and subsequently regulating their Virtu (openness and creativity). By considering pre-digital virtualities in key works of children’s and young adult literature including J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy (1911) and Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer (1942), I maintain that we can better theorize how digital texts for young people endeavour to construct and secure their audiences.

Timothy Stapleton

Department of History

Military Culture in British Colonial West Africa (c.1860-1960)

This project will produce a scholarly history of Britain’s colonial military in West Africa from the late nineteenth century conquest to decolonization in the 1950s. Located in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia, the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) was Britain’s largest army in colonial Africa yet it has not received much academic attention. This racially hierarchical institution was central in maintaining British rule, it served as a manpower reservoir for Britain’s global conflicts, and it was the catalyst for important social and political change in West Africa. Utilizing documents from British and African archives and with a focus on the ordinary African serviceman and his family, this study will attempt to better understand the military in British West Africa by employing the concepts of “military culture” which looks at basic assumptions that inform how the military works, and “combat motivation” which explores reasons why soldiers fight.

Morgan Vanek

Assistant Professor
Department of English

Forms of Trade: Significant Omissions in the Records of Empire, 1694-1785

To date, Anthony Henday appears only around the edges of histories of Alberta, where he’s briefly celebrated as the first Englishman to see the Rocky Mountains – but he’s also the first Hudson’s Bay Company explorer to use the empirical forms of record-keeping that the Royal Society would later recommend to all agents of the British empire. As the four extant versions of his journal demonstrate, however, even small changes introduced to regularize the form of these observations have significant consequences for the journal’s argument about the people and places observed. During the period of the proposed fellowship, I aim both to examine the implications of these formal changes for Henday’s theory of environment, and to explore how these changes in the forms of empirical record-keeping might be correlated to changes in both Company and Cree land management practices in western Canada in the second half of the eighteenth century.

 David Barrios

PhD Candidate
Department of History

Commemorative Practices and Rituals of Memory in Colombia, 1872-1919

In this project, I analyze modernization as it was experienced and understood in the province of Antioquia (Colombia), from 1872 to 1919. Specifically, I examine how regional elites used commemorations during this period to celebrate historical change and the emerging of new modernizing social classes, and claim a larger national significance for themselves and their region. So far, I have written two chapters explaining how the funeral of the novelist Jorge Isaacs in 1906 and the centennial celebrations in 1910 created specific links between the local elites, the public, and national memory. I am particularly interested also in uncovering the underlying silence of mestizos, women and working class sectors in these celebrations and how did those communities inhabited and possibly transformed Medellín’s mnemonic landscapes. This project challenges traditional historiography by showing that Colombia between 1870 and 1938 was marked by a deep sense of faith in peace and progress.



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