George Grinnell, PhD

(He, Him, His)

Associate Professor

English, English and Cultural Studies
On Leave Until: August 31, 2024
Office: CCS 332
Phone: 250.807.9638

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, DIY Punk Cultures, Romantic-era Literature, Medical Humanities, Migration, Biometric Technology, Romanticism and Terror

Courses & Teaching

Readings in Narrative, Modern Critical Theory and Interdisciplinary Methods, Punk Subcultures, Foundations: Interdisciplinary Theory and Methods in Literary Research, Methodologies: Critical Theory, Studies in Romanticism: Romantic Friendship


George grew up as a punk kid in southern Ontario who could not be happier living in the Okanagan desert. He can often be found in the mountains with friends and family and a Carolina Dog named Charlie nearby.


B.A. English, University of Guelph, M.A. English, University of Guelph, Ph.D. English, McMaster University, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), Cornell University

Research Interests & Projects

While my research and teaching interests are diverse, they are united by a consistent interest in how culture mediates social existence and recognizes or fails to recognize the social relations that structure life, thereby making and unmaking our ethical responsibilities to one another and to sociability as such. This can take the form of arguing for the central importance of public pedagogy as a force that unites punk subcultures and forms the basis of a community that is much more than a collection of deviant or defiant individuals. Or it can involve understanding the social life of biometrics that condition recognitions of identity and individualism as if one were distinct from all others and which may produce forms of ethical irresponsibility and abandonment. Or it can mean exploring how health and illness are social as much as individual determinations that remind us that well-being is a category that often functions to make some states of being more or less livable based on normative assumptions established and reiterated in culture, including, for example, what it means to be seen to be sick, or disabled, or living with a particular condition, or in need of care, as if we are not all living with minds and bodies subject to degradation and unexpected alterations and as if we are not all relying on assistance from others.

My newest research is a consideration of DIY punk culture as an instance of informal public pedagogy. The remarkable heterogeneity of punk is held together not by music, dress, or even radical beliefs and practices, but by acts of teaching and shared pedagogical ambitions. This approach shifts cultural assumptions about punk and contends that it needs to be understood as an instance of and a reflection upon the pedagogical power of culture.

In The Social Life of Biometrics, I explore the cultural meanings and implications of biometrics, which I understand to be more than just a mode of identity verification; it is a mode of thought that has preoccupied cultures in the West particularly for more than 200 years. At a time when seeing the faces of a tiny minority of Muslim women who wear the niqab has become a priority for some Western democracies, and at a time when fantasies of moral openness transform the face into an expression that might lie or tell the truth of who one really is, and at a moment when conflict and economic abandonment have made migration a matter of survival for so many more the world over, this book asks, how have biometric technologies established conventions that shape what can be seen in the face of another?

My past research investigates a cultural genealogy of the war on terror in English responses to Robespierre’s reign of terror. Focused on the emergence of a culture of biometrics – or technologies designed to make individuals legible – I consider how efforts to police homeland security support the prejudicial idea that the human can be parsed into the more and the less human by examining accounts of suicide violence, preoccupations with the eastern veil, the pseudoscience of physiognomy, and more, in novels, poetry, visual culture, drama, travel writing, politics, and philosophy. This SSHRC-funded research has appeared in a number of journals, conference presentations, and an associated website of public scholarship entitled Romanticism and the War on Terror.

This attention to the body as a locus of social anxieties builds upon my previous research into the curious centrality of hypochondria in the culture, science, and philosophy of the Romantic era. The Age of Hypochondria: Interpreting Romantic Health and Illness (2010) examines how culture and medicine mutually regulate and normalize what counts as sickness and health and the morality that is attached to both. In 2011, I received the international Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities in recognition of this book, the first scholar from a Canadian university to receive this prestigious award.

Selected Publications & Presentations


The Social Life of Biometrics, Rutgers University Press, 2020.

The Age of Hypochondria: Interpreting Romantic Health and Illness, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Articles and Chapters

“Living in the Wake of Punk.” European Journal of Cultural Studies. 25.2 (2022): 589-605.

“Punk is Dead: Notes toward the Apocalyptic Tone Adopted by Punk Rock.” English Studies in Canada. 45.4. (2019; published 2022): 53-81.

“Equiano’s Refusal: Slavery, Suicide Bombing, and Negation.” European Romantic Review. 27. 3 (2016): 265-273.

“There is another story, there always is …”: Red Dog Red Dog and the Okanagan. English Studies in Canada. 40. 2-3 (2014): 109-131.

“Timely Responses: Violence and Immediacy in Inchbald’s The Massacre.” European Romantic Review. 24.6 (2013): 645-663.

“Veiling and Other Fantasies of Visibility.” CR: The New Centennial Review. 13.3. (2013): 241-265.

“Ethics in the Face of Terror: Shelley and Biometrics.” The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. Special Double Issue: “Beyond Ground Zero: 9/11 and the Futures of Critical Thought.” 30. 3 (April-June 2008): 332-351.

“Thomas Beddoes and the Physiology of Romantic Medicine.” Studies in Romanticism. 45.2 (Summer 2006): 223-250.

“Exchanging Ghosts: Haunting, History, and Communism in Native Son.English Studies in Canada. 30. 3 (September 2004): 145-174.

Selected Grants & Awards

2018 – 2019, UBC: Work Study / Study Learn: Punk Pedagogy

2017 – 2018, UBC: Work Study / Study Learn: Punk Pedagogy

2016 – 2019, SSHRC Insight Development Grant: Punk Pedagogy

2010 – 2011, SSHRC Standard Research Grant: Romanticism, Terror, and the Limits of the National Imaginary

2009 – 2011, UBC Hampton Fund: Romanticism, Physiognomy, and the Emergence of a Culture of Biometrics

2009, UBC Internal Research Award: Support for Publication Grant – Creating an Index for The Age of Hypochondria

2005 – 2007, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship: About Face: Ethics in British Romantic Literature

2002 – 2005, SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship: On Hypochondria: Interpreting Romantic Health and Illness

Awards for Scholarship

2016, Nomination: Researcher of Year, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies

2016, F.E.L. Priestley Award – English Studies in Canada.

2011, Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities – Council of Graduate Schools

Teaching Awards

2018, Golden Apple Award, UBC, Okanagan campus

2013, Teaching Honour Roll, UBC, Okanagan campus

2013, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Teaching Award (Honourable Mention), UBC, Okanagan campus

2011, Award for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (Nomination), UBC, Okanagan campus

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE)


Current Primary Graduate Supervisions

Brian Kerr-Bassett, M.A. English Independent Research Paper, “Life and Death Writing: A Reparative Reading of Tennessee Williams’ Memoirs, and David Wojnarowicz’s In the Shadow of the American Dream: The Diaries of David Wojnarowicz.”

Breanne Chambers, M.A. English Thesis, “Dystopian Literature as a Cultural Narrative: An Analysis of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Completed Primary Graduate Supervisions

Kyla Morris, M.A. English Independent Research Paper (co-supervision with Dr. Jacques), 2022: “Step into My Coffin or (M)other Space: Theorizing Motherhood as Heterotopic Space in Angela Carter.” Ms. Morris is a PhD candidate at Western University.

Shohel Rana, M.A. English Independent Research Paper, 2020: “Normalizing Surveillance in Dave Eggers’ The Circle.”

Murat Yaman, M.A. English Independent Research Paper, 2019: “Orientalism and Mobility: On Strangers In Confessions Of An English Opium Eater And Frankenstein.”

Lindsay Balfour, IGS Ph.D. Dissertation, 2015: “Strangers at the Gate: Hospitality in a Time of Terror.”
Dr. Balfour was a SSHRC CGS PhD Scholarship recipient from 2011-2014 and the inaugural Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. She is presently Assistant Professor in the Research Centre in Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University.

Mina Rajabi Paak, M.A. English Thesis, 2014: “The HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Visual Culture and the Philanthropic Documentary Archive of the Global South.”

Ms. Rajabi Paak was the 2014 recipient of the Henderson Award for graduate research in international health.  She is presently a PhD candidate at York University.

Daniel Tracy, M.A. English Independent Research Paper, 2013: “The Ethics of Sympathy: Deconstructing Affective Economies in William Wordsworth’s ‘The Old Cumberland Beggar’.”

Taylor Scanlon, M.A. IGS Thesis, 2013: “Opening Cages And Ending The World: The Representation Of Animal Activism-As-Terrorism In Bold Native And 28 Days Later.”
Ms. Scanlon held a SSHRC CGS Bombardier MA Scholarship in 2011 and is pursuing a PhD at the University of Alberta on full scholarship.

Ryan Dunlop, M.A. English Independent Research Paper, 2010: “Against Familiar Ethics:Identity, Recognition, Affect, and Estrangement.”
Mr. Dunlop is presently a professional editor who works with Palgrave Macmillan.

Jannik Eikenaar, M.A. English Independent Research Paper, 2009: “Locating India: Uncertain People and Places in Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown.”
Dr. Eikenaar completed a PhD at UBC, Okanagan campus, where he was a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship recipient, and is now a tenure-track faculty member teaching communications in the School of Engineering.

Undergraduate Honours Supervisions

Alison Brodie, Honours English Thesis 2013: “Dominion over Minds by Proselytism:

The Discourse of Terror in Letters on a Regicide Peace and The Bush Doctrine.”

Ashley Cail, Honours English Thesis 2013: “Elizabeth Gaskell’s Desire for Female Community as Exemplified within ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’.”

Daniel Tracy, Honours English Thesis 2010: “Physiognomy and the Ethics of Imagination in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”

Christopher Fleck, Honours English Thesis 2009: “Abjection and Injection: Vaccination and Colonial Disease in Robert Bloomfield’s Good Tidings and Robert Southey’s Tale of Paraguay

Supervision of SSHRC-funded Research Assistants in Digital Humanities

2018    Anne Claret, Ph.D. Candidate

2018    Rina Chua, Ph.D. Candidate

2018    Murat Yaman, M.A. Candidate

2018    Stephanie Erickson, B.A. Candidate

2017    Brittni Mackenzie Dale, M.A. Candidate

2017    Francesca Gimson, M.A. Candidate

2017    Lea Sebastianis, B.A. Candidate

2011    Natasha Rebry, Ph.D. Candidate

2010    Lindsay Balfour, M.A. Candidate

2009    Daniel Tracy, B.A. Candidate


Apologies, but no results were found.