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Congratulations to the 2020-21 CIH Annual Fellows

This year the CIH is excited to welcome researchers from the Departments of Art, Geography, English, and Communication, Media and Film. We are grateful to our donors and to the Faculty of Arts for supporting our scholars through the CIH Fellowships programs.

The Wayne O. McCready Resident Fellowship for an Emerging Scholar recognises a scholar on the verge of a significant scholarly breakthrough. The Naomi Lacey Memorial Resident Fellowship, sponsored by the Naomi and John Lacey Foundation for the Arts, is awarded to an exceptional scholar chosen from among the general pool of applicants. The Frances Spratt Graduate Student Fellowship continues the tradition of supporting a PhD candidate whose research contributes to the public good by promoting the core values of the humanities and building bridges of learning to the broader community.

 Karen Bourrier

Associate Professor
Department of English

Mapping Victorian Women’s Literary Sociability

How was it possible to make it as a woman writer in Victorian London? What role did social networks—including who you knew and who you lived near—play in literary production? Mapping Victorian Women’s Literary Sociability uses digital mapping methodologies pioneered in geography to answer the literary question of how social networks could sustain the careers of Victorian women writers by geolocating (pinning down latitude and longitude) their addresses in four London neighbourhoods alongside the addresses of other writers, illustrators, editors and publishers. Victorian London, women were not always welcome in the spaces of the club or the publisher’s dinner, but they did have opportunities to network in each other’s homes and at literary soirees. This project examines the residences of writers, artists, editors and publishers, in four London neighbourhoods to examine how propinquity—proximity leading to frequent interaction—facilitated careers and collaboration in Victorian England. 

 William Bridel

Associate Professor
Faculty of Kinesiology

Exploring the Meaning of Sport and Physical Activity in the Lives of Queer Calgarians: A Socio-Historical Inquiry

From invisibility to outright hostility, sport and physical activity have historically excluded gender and sexually diverse persons in varying ways. At the same time, certain mainstream sports (e.g., softball), gyms, and categorical sport (i.e., organizations and teams created by and for queer persons) have provided safe spaces to be active and to form community-often during times of significant persecution in the broader social context. Following from the Calgary Gay History Project (Allen, 2018) oral histories will be gathered from 10 to 15 queer Calgarians in order to explore the meaning of sport and physical activity in their lives during the second half of the last century. The primary interest is in investigating the relationship between these social spaces and both individual subjectivity and community building. Did sport and physical activity spaces provide opportunities for various forms of resistance in a conservative era, fueled by fear and hatred of difference?

Victoria Fast

Assistant Professor
Department of Geography

Digital Justice and Injustice in the Smart City

Cities across the world are increasingly turning to information and communication technologies—to smart cities—with the hopes that doing so will create more livable, resilient places. However, these hopes to date have produced little substantive evidence of improved living conditions. Indeed, a growing chorus of critical voices are questioning the social justness in smart city. These debates are emerging alongside a burgeoning research agenda called “digital geographies” in which interdisciplinary scholars interrogate the implications of society, space, and technology’s mutual imbrications; looking at how technologies—larger data flows, more sensors, complex analytics software, internet-connected devices, and open data platforms in “smart city” strategies—and socio-political relations come to impact one another in and through places. In this proposed research, I will bridge critical smart city scholarship with digital geographies to focus scholarly attention on digital (in)justice in the smart city. 

Annie Rudd

Assistant Professor
Department of Communication, Media and Film

Unbidden Exposures: Histories of Candid Photography

Unbidden Exposures will offer the first full-length study of the history of candid photography, focusing on the period between the 1890s and the 1960s. Defining candid photography as a genre in which the depiction of unsuspecting subjects is assigned special revelatory capacities, Unbidden Exposures historicizes the idea that an unposed image is an optimally “natural” or “truthful” image. Topics discussed include the “art of not posing” in late-19th-century commercial portrait studios; the shifting meanings of candid photographs in the news, and the strategic deployment of “behind-the-scenes” aesthetics by political figures; the establishment of the candid camera as a mass-culture cliché, and the artistic appropriation of this trope; and midcentury female photographers’ contestations of candid photography’s truth claims. Through these case studies, this book illuminates the development of a pervasive yet largely unquestioned contention: the idea that the camera can best reveal its subjects when it is itself concealed. 

Trevor Stark

Assistant Professor
Department of Art

Weak Politics: Marcel Broodthaers between Poetry and Reification

The Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers made the political and financial compromises of culture under capitalism into his medium. Despite abandoning his early career as a poet in 1964, my book argues that the political stakes of Broodthaers’ art turned upon his preoccupation with the history of poetry. I reconstruct Broodthaers’ encounter with the theory of “reification” in a seminar on Baudelaire led by the sociologist of literature Lucien Goldmann in 1969. First developed by Georg Lukács in 1923 and disseminated by Goldmann, reification described the rationalization of the social world for commodity exchange. Developing this political diagnosis, Broodthaers produced works in a variety of mediums that meditated on the obsolescence of poetry faced with the rise of the entertainment industry and the art market. My book reclaims Broodthaers as a resource in urgent contemporary debates on the social value of art and poetry amid intensifying financialization and wealth inequality. 

 Neil Surkan

PhD Candidate
Department of English

Be/hold: Poems on Activism in Contemporary Canada (At the End of the World) 

My creative dissertation, Be/hold, explores the relationship between poetic practice and activism. In poems that dramatize the transition from retreat to political action, my speaker protests Alberta’s petroleum industry. A settler, he struggles to revolt and rebel while recognizing that his every action carries white privilege and potentially harmful consequences. I uniquely conceive of activism as prayer by intersecting Simone Weil’s concept of “consenting attention,” the writings on cross-cultural encounter by the Christian theorist-theologians Richard Kearney and Trevor Hart, and the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Taken together, these four writers develop a prayerful method of engaging with others that, as Hart puts it, “allow[s] difference in all its fullness and integrity to be maintained, shared and…practiced.” Owing to the radical alterity of the other, not in spite of it, Be/hold considers how seeing the world another way (or, an other’s way) creates the conditions for meaningful change. 

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