What We Do
Our mission is to undertake research and creative activity of the highest caliber. We are strongly committed to the continued development of a Fine Arts and Humanities-based intellectual culture on the UBC Okanagan Campus and in the surrounding region.
Our Faculty are nationally recognized, and highly regarded, leaders in creative and critical scholarship encompassing diverse historical and contemporary experiences and perspectives. We have specialized expertise in Digital Arts and Humanities, World Literature, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Ecocriticism, Global Art History, Visual Arts, Performance, Indigenous Arts, Media Studies and Creative Writing.
We have four Canadian Foundation for Innovation funded research Centres in the Faculty along with two research Labs. Many of our Faculty members hold active Social Science and Humanities Research Council grants and benefit from Arts Council funding at civic, provincial and federal levels.
Centres & Labs
The AMP Lab houses projects that engage in the work of the humanities–adding value to cultural artifacts through interpretation and analysis–in a digital context. Broadly, all AMP Lab projects investigate code as a sustainable medium for representing cultural history. The stakes are high, as the development of sustainable, robust humanist data shapes what both scholars and the general public can know about digitized cultural history.
The Centre for Culture and Technology (CCT) was established in 2011 by FCCS professors Aleksandra Dulic and Stephen Foster to promote research that brings together art and science to develop a critical awareness of the dynamic relationship between culture and technology. As a laboratory engaged in innovative research, the CCT aims to develop content, artwork and services, support innovation processes, expand new knowledge transmission strategies for cultural expression, and communicate cultural knowledge to audiences across a range of age groups and cultures.
The Critical Future Studio/Lab (CFS/L) is a CFI funded space, led by Dr. Megan Smith, is a creative studio that enables the production of innovative environmental experiences within digitally augmented spaces. The space will house future-orientated research on the themes of culture, the environment, public safety & security, and health. The CFS/L will be equipped with a combination of Maker tools, experimental technologies and cutting-edge devices in the field of augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) development.
The CFS/L will be located in the new Innovation Annex Building (space forthcoming).
The (Re)Media Lab is a CFI funded space, led by Dr. Emily Murphy. In this physical space, Murphy will continue her research that marries the study of cultural history and embodied methods in media.
The (Re)Media Lab will be located in the new Innovation Annex Building (space forthcoming).
The Research Studio for Spaces and Things (RSST) is an open platform for research and creation in the field of visual arts. The Studio is a transdisciplinary environment dedicated to the production and the presentation in 2D arts (drawing, painting, photography), 3D arts (installation, sculpture, design, architecture) and time-based practices (audio, video, performance). It will gather practitioners working across genres, disciplines and techniques. Contact: email@example.com.
Site/ation studio is a CFI funded research-creation space, led by Tania Willard, that uses collaborative creative practice as a methodology to acknowledge advocate and advance Indigenous land-based knowledges through creative making. Projects will include a focus on Interior Salish basketry, the Indigenous art Intensive and projection based work among other research activities. The ‘Site/ation Studio’ describes the ways that land, as a basis for Indigenous knowledge, can be a site of knowledge production and knowledge transfer equal to the value of academic text-based citations.
The Site/ation studio will be located in Portable A (near University House) along with Indigenous outdoor education space (space forthcoming).
The Sonic Production, Intelligence, Research, and Applications Lab (SPIRAL) is a CFI funded space, led by Dr. Miles Thorogood, that explores simulating the creative process in sound design to develop state of the art models and algorithms for developing new computational tools used in workflows in the video game, animation and virtual reality industries – increasing productivity of current pipelines and attracting companies and workers to further the economic growth coming from these industries.
Dr. Miles Thorogood will focus on the development of the next generation of A.I. computer-assisted tools for sound design production in the growing field of video games and virtual reality.
SPIRAL will be located in the new Innovation Annex Building (space forthcoming).
Public Humanities Hub
The Public Humanities Hub (PHH) initiative coordinates and amplifies the work of humanists on the Okanagan campus so that colleagues across the disciplines and citizens in the Southern Interior can see what they bring to the table.
- The hub identifies best practices in humanities capacity-building internationally
- It builds new research connections across Humanities departments, UBC faculties and the two campuses
- It supports research culture including graduate students and senior undergraduates
- It publicizes and mobilizes humanities research in the public sphere and facilitates exchanges amongst humanists at both the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses.
The Public Humanities Hub Okanagan (PHH-O) fosters collaboration and research excellence amongst humanists at UBC, and supports public-facing research in the humanities. The PHH-O will establish governance with an academic director, reporting to the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in FCCS, and a steering committee.
Post-Anthropocentrism & Critical Animal Studies Research Group
The Post-Anthropocentric and Critical Animals Studies Research Group [PACAS] is a network of activists, scholars, artists and writers who are invested in anti-speciesist and social justice research that advances human knowledge to improve nonhuman animal lives. PASCAS is supported by a UBC Okanagan-Exeter Excellence Catalyst Grant.
The FEELed Lab is a feminist environmental humanities field research lab with the goal of creating a hub for researchers, students and community members who share common interests in environment and sustainability issues, specifically from feminist, queer, anti-colonial and disability justice perspectives. This project is led by Dr. Astrida Neimanis.
Porch Sessions are casual discussions of the publications and research work by our faculty in the Department of English and Cultural Studies. The interviews are open ended conversations to share our work more broadly with our students, their parents and the public. Find out more…
Ludics and Laughter as Feminist Aesthetic: Angela Carter at Play responds to this lacuna in Carter criticism. This international collection of eleven essays from acclaimed Carter scholars and emerging voices in the field of Carter studies seeks to reclaim play as a serious undertaking for feminist writing and scholarship and to foreground laughter as a potent affect.
Writing Today offers students the comprehensive and detailed instruction they need using a highly-praised, interactive writing style that reflects the way they read and learn: instruction is succinct; key concepts are immediately defined and reinforced; paragraphs are short and supported by instructional visuals.
In The Social Life of Biometrics, biometrics is loosely defined as a discrete technology of identification that associates physical features with a legal identity. Dr. Grinnell considers the social and cultural life of biometrics by examining what it is asked to do, imagined to do, and its intended and unintended effects.
Gothic Metaphysics: From Alchemy to the Anthropocene, aims to explore our modern dilemma in the time of the Anthropocene, by bringing to light the role of Gothic since its inception in 1764 in holding space for a worldview familiar to certain mystical traditions – such as alchemy, which held to the view of a living cosmos yet later deemed ‘uncanny’ and anachronistic by Freud.
Ghosthawk is a guidebook of imagination from grasslands to star fields to the weather of the poet’s body.
Arborophobia, the latest collection by award-winning poet Nancy Holmes, is a poetic spiritual reckoning. Its elegies, litanies, and indictments concern wonder, guilt, and grief about the journey of human life and the state of the natural world.
Our faculty members are committed to recognizing outstanding and significant contributions to research, teaching and community engagement. Find out more about our award-winning colleagues.
Research Project Spotlight: All the Stars We Cannot See
With the goal to increase public exposure to space traffic density, Dr. Megan Smith and PhD student Gao Yujie have created All the Stars We Cannot See, an immersive installation geographically situates participants in a virtual sky where they can gaze up in real time at over 25,000 satellites as they fly overhead. Smith and Gao are working to render visible the impact of satellite density in the sky, and to share information on the presence of technology surveillance globally.
The artwork is produced by pulling real-time data from N2YO.com using their Application Programming Interface (API). Once the real-time data flows into the program, they work with the satellite footprint – latitude, longitude and altitude formatted into decimal degrees. The data being pulled from the satellites is rendered on 30-foot rounded screens in the Visualization and Emerging Media Studio (VEMS) here at UBCO, so a viewer can sit in the space to really take in the entire experience.
Research Project Spotlight: RESPECT Magazine
With support from the Equity Enhancement Fund, and with a team of undergraduate students, professors Anita Chaudhuri and Rishma Chooniedass have created RESPECT, an online magazine where students can share their experiences in the realm of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). This project is aligned with the Inclusive Action Plan, and Indigenous and anti-racism initiatives.
“Our intent with this project is to bring the student community together to connect what they are thinking about, what they are doing, and how they are involved with EDI practices and issues. We are working to create an avenue where students can publish their work dealing with these issues,” says Chaudhuri.
RESPECT is a student-led project for undergraduate and graduate students across campus. Three undergraduate students are working on the project to put together the submission guidelines, develop a blog platform, and work to establish connections with student groups, course unions, and fellow students.
Research Project Spotlight: Confluence of Religious Cultures in Medieval Histography
With funding from the UBC Okanagan-Exeter Excellence Catalyst Grant, Dr. Francisco Peña is working with a team of researchers from the University of Exeter and UBC Vancouver to continue the work of translating General e Grand Estoria (GGE), the most expansive 13th-century book written in Spanish.
The research team includes Francisco Peña (UBCO), Katie Brown (Exeter), Derek Carr (UBCV), and Michelle Bolduc (Exeter). They been working together for 4 years, digitalizing the book, which is now accessible to the group in a shared online platform. Translators will work in that platform to create a written translation of the text, so that in the end, a reader can select the chapter, see a photo of the original manuscript, and then be able to read the text that is being translated. Read more…
Featured Researcher: Emily Murphy
In her research, Assistant Professor Emily Murphy pursues ideas through technologies such as linked data, looking at how we can describe culture and the relationships between entities — people, places, things, or events. She will often look at “old” media, and attempt to understand how print, books, or archives shape our assumptions about how culture and community operate.
She is currently working on a data modelling project of an anthology of poems about the occupation of France in the Second World War. She is not only interested in studying the finished anthology, but looking at all that was involved in creating the object, especially the vast networks of human relationships that are expressed in the form of letters, previous publications, or edited drafts of poems.
“I hope my research is headed towards more experimentation in research-creation. While I love literature and writing, the real impact I want to make is to further develop methods for research in the humanities that rely on other forms of perception — technological, embodied, visual, textual…,”
Featured Researcher: Nancy Holmes
ART, SCIENCE AND COMMUNITY IS A POWERFUL COMBINATION that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. And it is this combination and a focus on industrious little insects—bees—that’s resulting in community-driven partnerships.
A talk about bees can lead to a discussion about plants, which can quickly turn into a dialog about food, habitat, soil, air and water. Before you know it, a bee briefing can quickly turn into a conversation about an entire ecosystem.
That’s what inspired the Border Free Bees project run by Nancy Holmes, an associate professor of creative writing at UBC Okanagan, and Cameron Cartiere, the associate professor in the Faculty of Culture + Community at Emily Carr University of Art & Design.
“We work with gardening and conservation groups, public schools, university communities, kids, seniors, as many people as we can pull in,” says Holmes, an award-winning poet, writer, educator and researcher.
Featured Researcher: Allison Hargreaves
Associate Professor, Allison Hargreaves is the winner of the 2017 Gabrielle Roy Prize writing award. Her book, Violence Against Indigenous Women: Literature, Activism, Resistance, was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in August of 2017 and was named the winning entry for 2017.
Violence Against Indigenous Women argues for the important role that literature and storytelling can play in response to gendered colonial violence. Indigenous communities have long been organizing against violence, but the cases of missing and murdered women have only recently garnered broad public attention.
The Gabrielle Roy Prize is awarded annually for the best book-length study in Canadian and Quebec literary criticism.
“I am honored by the recognition, and grateful for the attention this may bring to the issues discussed in the book,” says Hargreaves.