June 30, 2021
2020-21 Annual Fellows
CIH Annual Fellow
School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures
Dante’s Memory: From Fixity to Fluidity
Memory played a key role in the Middle Ages: it was ubiquitous in medieval education, from rhetoric to philosophy and even theology. Dante’s Divine Comedy is a masterpiece of medieval culture, yet, before my research, there was no comprehensive study of Dante’s concept of memory. I argue that memory is one of the underlying structuring principles of the Comedy. Dante begins with a rhetorical memory trap, rooted in the fixity of the art of memory, that is a punishment in Inferno. In Purgatorio memory becomes a force for good, linked to prayer, which reduces penance. In Eden, at the rivers Lethe and Eunoè, signifying oblivion and good memory, there is a paradigm shift: from memory to forgetfulness. This oblivious memory, fluid and altruistic, informed by theology, is the only memory left in Paradiso. My book shows the Divine Comedy’s importance within the studies of memory in the European Middle Ages.
Naomi Lacey Resident Fellow
Department of Communication, Media, and Film
Pragmatic Visions: Vachel Lindsay’s “Democratic” Spectatorship and Early Cinema
In 1915, as cinema was coalescing into a major industry, American poet Vachel Lindsay wrote the first book of film theory, arguing for film as a tool of aesthetic enlightenment and political engagement. Pragmatic Visions traces Lindsay’s little-understood theory of how cinema engages viewers. Lindsay argued that film’s sensuous power could offer spectators “visions,” in something like a religious sense, of society’s potential future. But the public nature of film exhibition meant that, unlike private religious visions, cinema’s visions could be debated democratically. This project also unearths the cultural context around Lindsay’s ideas. By locating Lindsay’s encounters with print culture, Progressivism, and primitivism, this project reveals disturbing tensions between the ideal and practice of democracy in turn-of-the-century America—tensions that still exist today.
Wayne O. McCready Fellow
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.
Frank W. Stahnisch
CIH Annual Fellow
Department of History
Department of Community Health Sciences
Great Minds in Despair – The Forced-Migration of German-Speaking Neuroscientists to North America, 1933 to 1989
In the history of science scholarship, the ‘Brain Gain Thesis’ is often taken as an unquestioned given in studies of the forced migration of physicians and medical researchers following the Nazis’ rise to power in Germany after 1933. Research literature on the receiving countries has primarily tended to take the intellectual, academic, and institutional dimensions of the forced migration wave into account, while the individual fate and adaptation problems of many émigré psychiatrists and neurologists are still considerably under-investigated. In this project, I thus want to look at the fate of a group of émigré physicians and researchers, who could be classified as early “neuroscientists” and who immigrated to Canada and the US either transitionally or for good. The thesis put forward here is that the process of forced migration most often constituted an end or at least a drastic change to the careers of this group of medical professionals.
Fellowship in Applied Ethics
Ethics are at the heart of the humanities, and considerations of ethics are one of the key contributions the humanities can make to a thriving public sphere. Funded by a generous gift, the CIH awards the Applied Ethics fellowship every two years and hosts a preeminent guest lecturer in alternating years.
Shelley M. Alexander
Applied Ethics Fellow
Department of Geography
Lessons from Coyote: Decolonization, Jurisprudence and the Geo-ethics of Marginalized Populations
Burdened by the colonial label of ‘pest’, coyotes can experience legally sanctioned, often unrestrained, persecution everywhere in Canada. Yet, evidence shows the species presents minimal risk to people, is ecologically important, and has social systems analogous to those of humans. As such, coyotes are my entry point to critically explore the marginalization of populations, engendered by the intersection of animal ethics, jurisprudence, and colonial worldviews. My aim is to expose the mechanisms and relationships that reinforce speciesism and oppression, and to offer insights and recommendations to de-colonize wildlife conservation and everyday practice towards marginalized non-human and human animals alike. Applied outcomes include characterization of an understudied ethical challenge, support for legal reform, and guidelines that can empower human communities to make ethical and ecologically sustainable choices that embody justness for non-human animals.
Graduate Student Fellow
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.
Nella Darbouze Bonyeme
Frances Spratt Graduate Student Fellow
School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures
Systemic Racism in Nineteenth-Century Tales of Black and Mixed-Race Revenge
“All Negroes need is a leader, valiant enough to guide them towards vengeance and massacre” wrote Denis Diderot, one of the most famous figures of French Enlightenment, in Histoire des deux Indes (1770). Far from viewing revenge as a private vendetta, Diderot saw revenge as revolution; as a way for the oppressed to repair systemic wrong to which they are victims and establish social equilibrium. For that reason, recent scholarship has identified nineteenth-century tales of black and mixed-race revenge as vehicles for discourse regarding black agency and racial injustice. However, narrative form and its import on the appraisal of social inequality has been neglected. The aim of my dissertation is to investigate the narrative structure of six nineteenth-century tales of revenge. I argue that the formal features of revenge narratives evolve throughout the century, revealing shifts in thinking about systemic racial injustice and black agency.
2021 Public Humanities Fellows
We have set out to partner community organisations with highly skilled doctoral students in the Humanities. The aims are to help the students to acquire new kinds of learning and experience in a non-academic setting, to help community organisations understand how they can benefit from the skills offered by Humanities graduates, and to cultivate strong collaborative networks for supporting arts, culture and social justice in our communities.
PhD Candidate in English and Creative Writing
Department of English
Rebecca has held a graduate assistant role since 2018 with The Insurgent Architects’ House for Creative Writing (TIA House), which has fueled her passion for issues related to antiracism and social justice. She has also published numerous poems and book reviews in literary journals across Canada and has served in board and editorial roles with literary and academic publications, including ARIEL, a journal specializing in postcolonial and human rights scholarship. Place and the environment are an important part of Rebecca’s scholarly research, and she will defend her creative dissertation, a novel, alongside a critical analysis of this work in 2021.
Rebecca Geleyn will be working with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society on a project entitled “Representation of Cultural Safety in Physical Space”.
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) is a non-profit organization that offers settlement and integration support and services to all immigrants and refugees in Calgary and Southern Alberta. The largest immigrant serving agency in the Prairies, CCIS, combined with their volunteer collective, is represented in almost every cultural, faith based, and linguistic background observed in the changing makeup of Calgary. CCIS was looking for a public humanities fellow to contribute to the framework of a Cultural Responsiveness Audit. Rebecca will be looking into how cultural safety can be represented in the physical space, which is important for all community serving agencies and should be integrated into the overall approach of service delivery. Cultural Safety “is an outcome that is based on respectful engagement which recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the health and social services system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination where people feel safe receiving health care.” (Government of NWT 2016: 9)
Monica Di Rosa
PhD Candidate in Greek and Roman Studies
Department of Classics and Religion
Monica’s studies have long had her evaluating and interpreting primary historical sources and she also has extensive archival research experience, including a Diploma in Archival Science, Latin Palaeography and Diplomatics from the State Archive of Bologna. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on her interest in understanding social relationships and multiculturalism in the city of Rome during from the first to the fifth centuries CE, but she also has experience working in modern archives. In 2014 she held an internship at the Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne, a library created by a feminist collective and which holds major collections of material dedicated to feminist movements and gender studies.
Monica Di Rosa will be working with the Centre for Sexuality on a project entitled “Bringing 50 Years of the Centre for Sexuality to Life”.
Centre for Sexuality is a nationally recognized, community-based organization delivering programs and services that address sexual health issues in a comprehensive way. They have been leading the way in the areas of sexuality, healthy relationships, human rights, gender identity, sexual orientation, equality and consent for more than 48 years in the Calgary community. The Centre for Sexuality was looking for a public humanities fellow to bring their archives to life. Monica will assess the Centre’s archives and produce a history and time-line to be used in support of the organization’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2022. Further, she will identify potential stories and personalities that exemplify the Centre’s role in the feminist and LGBTQ2S+ movements over its history.
PhD Student in English and Creative Writing
Department of English
Kaitlyn is Denesuline and a member of Smith’s Landing First Nation (Treaty 8 territory). She is also a member of the Writing Revolution in Place creative research collective based in Treaty 6 territory. She is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including the Metatron Prize for her debut poetic novella ʔbédayine (Spirit). Her doctoral research centers storywork methodology and rhetorics of the medicine wheel to create an ethical space for creative praxis as healing. Her work meditates on recovery, ecology, and intergenerational survivance. It will be presented through multi-modal creative productions such as creative writing, visual, digital, and installation arts.
Kaitlyn Purcell will be working with the Esker Foundation on a project entitled “Youth Engagement and Decolonizing Gallery Space”.
Esker Foundation is a privately funded contemporary art gallery located in Calgary, which connects the public to contemporary art through relevant, accessible, and educational exhibitions, programs, and publications. The gallery reflects on current developments in local, regional, and international culture; creates opportunities for public dialogue; and supports the production of ground-breaking new work, ideas, and research. Esker Foundation was looking for a Public Humanities Fellow to assist in the development of a new youth initiative. Kaitlyn will be responsible for reviewing and assessing models for, and research on, youth engagement activities as a means of decolonizing gallery/museum space. She will also be responsible for reviewing and assessing additional decolonizing methodologies that de-center the Eurocentric view, challenge white supremacy, and value alternative narratives, and that may be mapped onto decolonization work by youth in the gallery.
Community Collaboration and Outreach with the Calgary Atlas Project
The Calgary Atlas Project continues its mandate of seeking to document forgotten and lesser-known stories from Calgary's history by mapping them onto the city's geography and highlighting significant sites, events and people in Calgary's past. Thanks to the Community Grant from the Calgary Foundation there have been significant developments since the last newsletter.