FCCS Research Series

The Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Research Series is a chance to hear from faculty and graduate students in the Departments of Creative Studies, Languages and World Literatures, and English and Cultural Studies. This lunch-time series offers two brief research talks followed by a discussion period.

Upcoming Events

2022/23 Series Presentation Dates

All research events will be held on Fridays from 12:00 to 1:30 pm in FIP 140 at UBC Okanagan. All are welcome to attend! Please see the list of dates below, and stay tuned for information on the speakers.

September 23, 2022

  • Allison Hargraves, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies
    Thinking With Place: Experiments in Land Acknowledgment: This talk engages the critical insights of Indigenous writers in order to explore place-based, relational, and decolonial approaches to the concept and practice of land acknowledgement.
  • Dominic Grace, Sessional Lecturer, Languages and World Literatures
    Nina Bunjevac’s Heartless World: Cartoonist Nina Bunjevac was born in Canada but spent years in Yugoslavia as a child, as her mother fled from her husband, a fanatical Serbian nationalist engaged in terrorist plotting. He was killed by a bomb he was building, whether by accident or as an act of suicide unknown. Bunjevac’s life was therefore shaped by complex familial and political dynamics, which is reflected in her work. In this talk, I will explore some of the stories in her first book, the anthology Heartless, exploring how her own transcultural background is reflected in her construction of comics narratives out of diverse influences, appropriating and transgressively reframing familiar comics devices in her exploration of the immigrant experience and of the permeablility of the line between family and social constructs.
    Content warning: the presentation will include graphic and disturbing images

October 7, 2022

  • Madeline Donald, PhD student, IGS Digital Arts and Humanities
    A question of habitat: Brandt’s Creek, Kelowna: Human-centered urban development in the Okanagan watershed—unceded (to Canada) and occupied syilx territory—has contributed to the alteration, channelization and confinement of waterways. These attempts to control water degrade, disconnect, and destroy biodiverse community-sustaining riparian and wetland habitats. The city of Kelowna in general and Brandt’s Creek in particular are prime examples of these dynamics. As part of a larger project we are calling “Kelownafornia,” I am asking: What does Brandt’s Creek’s need in order to be(come) its most bountiful and vibrant self given the past histories, current policy ecology, and future needs of the multi-being riparian communities with which it is co-constituted? For this Brown Bag presentation I will introduce Brandt’s Creek and share some of the thoughts and questions that have arisen in the formulation of this research.
  • Miriam Cummings, MFA IS student
    Actor Safety Research Lab: Highlights from a project which applied trauma-informed practices to actor training with the goals of prioritizing psychological safety and creating space for abundance vs. competition in creative processes. In partnership with Drama Therapist Anne Eitzen, Miriam guided 6 multidisciplinary artists through a devising process that drew on Moment Work (Tectonic Theater Project, NYC), Laban Movement Analysis, and Linklater Voice.

October 14, 2022

  • Megan Smith, Associate professor, Creative Studies
    All the Stars We Cannot See (2020 – Ongoing) by Dr. Megan Smith & Gao Yujie is an immersive installation that situates participants within a virtual sky activated by 25,500+ satellites orbiting Earth. Smith & Gao are working to render visible the global impact of satellite density. This artwork was made to build opportunities for discussion on the impact of colonizing space, and to bring awareness to growing surveillance and the political and economic driving forces that are currently occupying space. This project won an Honorary Mention at Ars Electronica 2022, in the Digital Communities Category, and is part of Dr. Megan Smith’s Killam Fellowship program. 
  • David Meola, Visiting Associate Professor, Languages and World Literatures
    Jewish Germans and the Rise of German Liberalism: During the German Vormaerz (1830 to 1848), the liberal and democratic movements started gaining traction–especially among the middle class. Ideas about freedom freely circulated, influenced by their western neighbors (most notably, France and Great Britain). The movement for a more liberal society that valued differences of opinion, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, modernity, and a German national spirit gained much ground in the areas closest to France–the Rhineland and the Grand Duchy of Baden. Within Baden–seen as the “Musterlaendle” (model small state) for German liberalism–the rise of this ideology was tied intrinsically to the recently-acquired Electoral Palatinate and the cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg. Not only was the intellectual climate of the university conducive to producing liberal sentiment, but so were the societal and cultural climates. It was in this area that I have found a link between its liberality and the relationships produced among German Christians and German Jews, and it is this area that binds together a new generation of Jewish Germans who all participated in important and unrecognized ways in the shaping of liberal ideology and the movement itself.
  • Yujie Gao, PhD student, IGS Digital Arts and Humanities
    When Time Becomes Art – Inhabiting Time in Computational Performative Art: ‘Flowing to Unsettle’ (2020-Ongoing) is a long-term artistic project that explores the materiality of duration and the elasticity of space and time in rule-based interactive environments. Gao’s research examines different aspects of experiential time through incorporating humans’ and/or machines’ improvisational involvement in a live, interactive artwork, in order to expose the different perceptions of time passing, and unsettle the experiences of daily time. This generative participatory performance work explores how performative computational art can be used for inhabiting a multiplicity of times and what can we learn about differences via the exploration of temporal dimensions, including the imperceptible change (too small, often overlooked) and the unperceivable change (too large or far away, hard not be felt) through the microscope yet telescope of Time to understand changes and the present. 

October 21, 2022

  • Melissa Jacques, Associate professor, English and Cultural Studies
    The Wavering Line: Relational Embodiment in the Work of Margaret Kilgallen: Margaret Kilgallen (1967-2001) was a prolific artist and an important figure in the graffiti scene of San Francisco in the late 1990s. With her husband, Barry McGee, she produced work that was ephemeral (on the street, on sidings, and on trains) and permanent (murals, paintings, and assemblages produced within and for galleries). Moving seamlessly between the domains of the illegal and the sanctioned, and between “low” and “high” culture, she maintained a quietly insistent ethos of attention. In an episode of Art21’s PBS series, Art in the Twenty-First Century, Kilgallen identifies the hand as central to this ethos: “I like things are that are handmade and I like to see people’s hand in the world … In my own work, I do everything by hand. I don’t project. I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work … but when you get close up, you can always see the line waver. And I think that’s where the beauty is.” Arguing for a reading of Kilgallen’s street art, tagging, and gallery work as interactive three-dimensional comics that are also forms of community building, this paper will bring Kilgallen’s line work into conversation with Judith Butler’s thinking through of gesture and vulnerability in Precarious Life (2004) and María Puig de la Bellacasa’s exploration of care as affective entanglement in Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds (2017). Keeping in mind Kilgallen’s definition of beauty, above, I will explore the following questions: What forms of embodiment and care are enacted through Kilgallen’s attention to the circulation of lines in the graffiti she both witnesses and produces? And what forms of communication are made possible through a life’s work that simultaneously seeks perfection and accepts failure?
  • Mandy  Wallace, MFA Student, Creative Writing

October 28, 2022

  • TBC

November 4, 2022

  • TBC

November 18, 2022

  • Sean Lawrence, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies
  • George Grinnell, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies

November 25, 2022

  • TBC

January 27, 2023

  • Andreas Rutkauskas, Lecturer, Creative Studies

February 3, 2023

  • Brianne Christensen, Masters Student, MA in English

February 10, 2023

  • Nikhita Obeegadoo, Assistant Professor, Languages and World Literatures

February 17, 2023

  • TBC

March 3, 2023

  • Karis Shearer, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies

March 10, 2023

  • Sepideh Saffari, PhD student, IGS Digital Arts and Humanities
  • Vivek Sharma, MFA Student, Creative Writing

March 17, 2023

  • TBC

March 24, 2023

  • Tom Leveen, MFA Student, Creative Writing
  • Liam Fraser, Masters Student, MA in English
  • Dravida Huda, Masters Student, MA in English

March 31, 2023

  • Kyong Yoon, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies

Past Events

The FCCS Brown Bag Research Series, supported by the Associate Dean of Research, was a chance to hear from our faculty and graduate students to learn what’s happening in each department. While the emphasis was on new faculty in the first instance, we had presentations on research, scholarship and creative output from any and all of our colleagues throughout the series.


Kaytlyn Barkved, MA student in the Digital Arts and Humanities theme, IGS
Preparing for the Oral Defense: Neuroqueer Imaging
In this graduate research symposium, Kaytlyn will present an abridged version of the defense of her thesis “Neuroqueer Imaging: An Autistic Autoethnography.”  Having just successfully defended in December 2021, she will speak about her own defense experiences, offer tips and advice, and field questions for those who are preparing for their own oral defense.

Zachary Dewitt, MA in English student
Ghosts and Haunting Metaphors: a critical approach to humanities research
Metaphors of ghosts and haunting appear frequently in humanities research to describe the interrelation of the past, present and future. What exactly do these metaphors imply, what theoretical approach do they draw from? In this short presentation, I hope to explore some of the theories that these haunted metaphors draw on, while also briefly drawing on the history of ghostly language in Western philosophy. Ultimately, I will look to literature — as many theorists do — to understand the implications of such theories, and to briefly communicate the critical value of these theories.

This event will be held in a virtual environment via zoom. Registration is required.


Dr. Greg Garrard, Professor
Raise a Glass to the Burrowing Owl: Endangered Species and Cultural Nationalism in the South Okanagan, BC, Canada 
The proposal to found a National Park in the South Okanagan region of British Columbia dates back to 1970 and the government of Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father. It still hasn’t been fulfilled, despite the fact that a high proportion of the species at risk in Canada are found there. The paper traces the history of the proposal, and opposition to it, in terms of the entanglement of biology and nation, nature and culture, and the curious invisibility of the US/Canada border that bisects the region.

Dr. Astrida Neimanis, Associate Professor
What (and why) is feminist environmental humanities?
I will take this opportunity to describe a research field whose title I (along with various collaborators) mostly just made up. Why did we feel the need to specify this moniker, and what does it accomplish? What does this name try to gather up, and what remains unarticulated? From here I will segue into an introduction to three FEH field-building projects I have initiated– COMPOSTING feminism and the environmental humanities (started in Sydney in 2015 with Jennifer Mae Hamilton), Hacking the Anthropocene (2016-2019) and the fledgling FEELed Lab, right  here at UBCO. This means I will also have to talk about collaboration as a feminist, anticolonial, queer and crip research method, and why it is so necessary, so joyful, and so hard.

This event will be held in a virtual environment via zoom. Registration is required.


Sepideh Saffari, PhD student in the Digital Arts and Humanities theme, IGS
Using Digital Media to Interrogate UNESCO’s Approach to Iranian Architectural Heritage and the Cultural Identity
I am investigating the role of UNESCO in the construction of Iranian national identity through the representation of architectural heritage. While UNESCO believes that peace is based on dialogue and mutual understanding among nations, it does not sufficiently promote the cross-cultural influences that nations have on each other, particularly in its representations of visual culture. Hence, I argue how UNESCO’s approach obscures the transnational nature of Iranian architectural heritage.

Shimshon Obadia, MFA Interdisciplinary Studies Student
Trans Joy vs. the Trauma Plot
In this presentation, Shimshon Obadia (pronouns: they/them) will be briefly discussing the use of positive narrative representations of trans people–specifically, ones that highlight the intersectional complexities of their identities–in their research project, Queer Sounds in the Substructure. This cursory talk will focus on questioning how to balance authentic representations of people like Obadia who are queer, neurodiverse and people of colour, and often subject to painful personal histories of discrimination; without leaning into the territory of so called “trauma plots.” This term, which New Yorker critic Parul Sehgal recently created a lot of buzz around in the January 3rd & 10th, 2022 issue of the magazine, had Obadia wonder about the role they believe trauma can sometimes play in portraying joyful representations of marginalized people, in stories such as those their research creation is generating. Presenting their exploration and introspection on this ongoing topical debate, Obadia endeavours to ask themselves and their audience what trans joy looks like to them.

We will provide free lunch to all those who wish to attend in person in CCS 142 (vegetarian sandwiches and coffee/tea).

Reserve your spot whether to attend virtual or in-person, and have your lunch order confirmed, please register at the link provided below. Please note, the deadline to register if you want lunch included is Tuesday, February 1, 12:00 noon.


Francisco Peña, Associate Professor, World Literatures
The Confluence of Religious Cultures in Medieval Historiography: Critical Edition and development of the first English translation of the General e Grand Estoria
In today’s pervasive climate of cultural and religious intolerance, this study and translation of Volume I of the General e grand historia offers timely insight into a work of storytelling that encouraged collaboration by writers and translators from diverse cultures, ethnicities, and religions, at a time and place when such intermingling was prohibited by law.

Anderson Araujo, Associate Professor, Languages and World Literatures
Fascist Modernism in Spain and Italy in the Years Between the World Wars
Of the three most prominent manifestations of European fascism in the early decades of the twentieth century, Francisco Franco’s in Spain remains the most galling. For one thing, it triumphed even as Mussolini was hunted down and killed near the Swiss border and Hitler shot himself in his Berlin bunker. Indeed, Franco did much more than just survive. His version of fascism held sway for nearly four decades. While Franco’s iron-fisted state apparatus relied heavily on surveillance, censorship, and the ruthless suppression of dissent, it also enlisted a sizable apparatchik of propagandists, intellectuals, artists, and writers. Among these was one of Spain’s foremost avant-gardists, Ernesto Giménez Caballero. His fascination with Franco predates the American poet Ezra Pound’s conversion to Italian Fascism and mussolinismo—the cult of Mussolini—in the early 1930s. Yet the shared intensity of their devotion to the strongmen and obsession with the aesthetics of power makes for one of the most intriguing and little-known parallels in the history of literary modernism.


Xiaoxuan/Sherry Huang, MFA Creative Writing
I am Yours, Votive Communication in All the Time
“Every letter is a loveletter,” writes Chris Kraus in I Love Dick, & it is true – from the actual epistle right down to the initial with which I sign.
One aspect of my thesis, All the Time: Poems / Letters / Effulgences, is concerned with explicitly votive acts of communication in both form & content. (Votive, a word lit up, means “expressing a desire.”) Following Derrida’s notion of différance, writing is a simultaneous act of discernment & deferral. So why write, then, if language never reaches its destination? Through thinking-feeling, All the Time wagers that the expression of desire is expression’s limit. I will share how & why I use poetry & autotheory to co-write this creative work, & speak to lyric strategies that help the text evade singular or linear constructions of narrative. I will also read select excerpts from the thesis.

– x

Stephenie Hendricks, PhD student in the Sustainability theme, IGS
Unintended Consequences:” An Open Education Resources Module series on Environmental Health and Environmental Justice
How can we empower students to become “global citizens”? How do we mobilize knowledge about our environment and its implications for health and justice? The answers to these questions can be found through compelling narratives from those working on the front lines of the intersections of environment, health, and justice. These stories are from people who are stepping forward into the battle for healthy and just environments; they come from many different disciplines, cultures, genders, educational experiences and geographic areas. The body of work I aim to do for my doctoral research provides an Open Education Resources (OER) curriculum that shares stories from environmental health and environmental justice stewards for post-secondary curriculum. This presentation includes a short demo podcast.


Michael Treschow, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies
The Exeter Book’s Fish in the River Riddle as a Metaphor for the Spiritual Life
The Exeter Book’s Riddle 84 derives from a simple and well-known Latin riddle with a ready-to-hand solution: a fish in a river. The Old English version, however, adds some complexity and moves this riddle’s focus from the physical world to the spiritual. Most strikingly, the riddle is told in the voice of the fish, who brings into play several lively details that do not feature in the older versions, along with a concluding note on the weighty theme of death. This reference to death functions initially on a literal level. The fish’s awareness of its mortality resonates with the recurrent theme of death running through the Exeter Book and invites reflection on creaturely vulnerability and transience. But this imagery’s import moves beyond the literal to function metaphorically. It evokes a comment attributed to St. Anthony in his Vita, where he refers to monks as fish, who die if they linger on the dry land of worldly conversation. On that understanding, the details that the fish relates about its life in the river come to elaborate on St. Anthony’s metaphor. The riddle serves as a reminder to all those who engage in the spiritual life of contemplation and prayer. It does so not in isolation but in interaction with other texts in the Exeter Book’s collection, with its meditative flow.

Ana Rewakowicz, Sessional Instructor, Visual Art
Foggy Pursuit of Ethical Response-Ability: Art and Science of Collecting Water from Fog
The presented Mist Collector art and science project, conducted collaboratively with scientists at École Polytechnique in Paris, has addressed water scarcity by investigating an alternative means of collecting water from fog. Through art and science collaboration, this art-based research proposed a non-standard method of harvesting fog water with a net of parallel vertical fibres that contributed to scientific innovation, while at the same time invited science to partake in artistic creation. The produced artworks have brought forward a phenomenological engagement with water by inviting the public to experience water at the scale of a single droplet and imaginatively speaking, aboard Spaceship Earth traveling through fog. Using imagination and poetics, this project calls for the necessity to begin creating a collective narrative of an ever deteriorating ecosophic Future/Present/Past that may still be envisioned and conceived together.

FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2022

Natasha Harvey, MFA Visual Arts student
Layered Landscapes: Landscape Art, Politics and Love
This presentation will share my artistic research-creation practice, which seeks to communicate the effects of human interference on the environment while evoking the participatory spirit of love and beauty in the non-human world. I spend time deepening my connection with the land in the Syilx peoples’ unceded territories, walking and connecting through place-based research, collage landscape painting, and linocut prints. Over time, during these walks, I have found the expansion of dwellings, homes pushing up the mountainsides around and over wetlands, impacting wildlife habitat and ecology.  Construction cuts into the land. Culture and economy reshape the horizon, thus rendering ‘space’ as politically complex. Therefore, achieving the colonial sublime is not a simple image of beauty without erasure. I question whether my depictions of the landscape can illustrate this complexity and thus encourage a conversation about our expanding contribution to the detriment of the land.

Madeline Donald, PhD student in the Sustainability theme, IGS
Corrugating attentiveness: A presearch methodology
The education of attention and perception takes time and repetition. Corrugation, as defined here, is a dance between attention, memory, and the passage of time: experience folds into ideas folding into experience. I will speak to my experience of corrugating relations in some of the riparian habitats of the Okanagan and Similkameen watershed, where for one year I intentionally cultivated an attentional practice. It is my belief that in order to conduct research in a given habitat/community/context a researcher has the obligation to come into relation with and in the bounds of that research space. This presentation is a representation of how I tried to do that.

FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2022

Anita Chaudhuri, Assistant Professor of Teaching, English and Cultural Studies
Supporting Respectful Understanding of Cultures

Culturally sustaining pedagogy offers a critical lens and a theoretical framework to understand the educational experiences we bring to our classrooms. In this presentation, I share some questions on access and equity that face our students and what researchers offer as ways to support “culture, language and learning potential.” (Paris & Alim, 2017, p. 3) Finally, from an educational leadership point of view, I offer the example of a student-led project that intends to create pathways for dialogue, argument and response.

Shawn Serfas, Associate Professor, Visual Arts
This Kind of Wilderness
The rhetorical battle between order and chaos, post-apocalyptic landscapes of refuse and discard will be discussed in light of recent artists’ projects and exhibitions on the theme of environmental aesthetics and the cultural role that painting plays in defining our perceptions of nature.

Meilan Ehlert, Sessional Lecturer, Languages and World literatures
Making better transition ‘Multi’ as a strategic tool: The case of ethnic Korean plurilingual youths from Northeast China
Plurilingualism can be understood as the study of individual repertoire and agency in several languages in different contexts, in which an individual is the locus of, and actor in, the context. The current study is based on the conceptual framework of plurilingualism and plurilingual competence. A focus is on to identify how a strategic pedagogical implementation of the multi (i.e., use of multilingual, multicultural and multimodal resources) can better support and empower plurilingual speakers and learners in today’s diverse classrooms. This presentation will begin with a brief review of how the increased mobility in China today has been motivating and challenging educators at an ethnic Korean minority school (K-MNS) in Northeast China, in order to support new generations of (Japanese or English as) foreign language learners. Then, move on to mainly looking at some key examples of how a group of senior level plurilingual learners at the K-MNS engage in imaginative uses of their linguistic resources, constantly exploring and developing various strategies of managing the multi in their dynamic repertoires, as they were making transition from high school to university.

FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2022

Scott Moore, MFA Visual Arts
‘I’m not sure how this got here, but boy are they tasty oranges’: A subtle being concentrated approach to this place.
With social and environmental challenges facing the earth, can there be an approach to show how to re-calibrate our relationships to things and places? In my artistic research, I have been constructing methods of making to cultivate small spaces and unfamiliar gaps through digital sculpture that could allow for re-introductions to our existing realities. Oranges, squash, apples, computer cables, hard drives, books, vases, flowers, etc. highlight the aggregate elements that compose our families. Taking notice of a kabocha squash resting on a cluttered dining room table becomes subscendent sites of connection. Working in ways to reveal the existing unseen/seen objects leads to potential moments of intimacy and relationships.

Michaela Bridgemohan, MFA Visual Arts
Oleaginous duppy: alternate paths of connection through immaterial to material making
The common threads woven throughout my artistic practice originate from my deep interest in building familiarity through relational connections. Thinking about lasting impressions, from brief encounter(s) to reappearing figure(s), raises questions: Do these relational bonds foster resilience to cultural identity within art-making? Through an auto-ethnographic focus, my artistic research shares an intimate relationship with Jamaican folk figure, duppy—whose bodily essence mimics the very fabric of Afro-Caribbean diasporic experience. Not as a source of capital possession, abuse, or the forbidden, but as a multi-dimensional and deeply complex geographic figure of ontological importance, knowledge, memory, and feeling through transformation. I will share relational practices such as cooking, grooming, and storytelling as methods of self-sustenance and creative power. I would say that I understand the order of the world when I observe my father prep curry goat by washing the meat. vinegar–soak–drain. Dignity and dedicated time in front of the pot is analogous to the perseverance of Black survival.

Ahlam Bavi, PhD student in the Digital Arts and Humanities theme, IGS
Beyond Sight (Improving the Museum Experience for Low-vision Visitors)
Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) institutions have come a long way in accommodating differently-abled guests and facilitating their experience of art. A common rule when visiting a gallery or museum, ‘no touching’, is supposed to teach us to respect and appreciate art from a distance. While it prevents any damage or breakages, this rule teaches us to enjoy art with our eyes, not our hands. The question, then, is how blind and partially sighted could benefit from (GLAM) institutions? how might we make objects accessible in (GLAM) institutions for blind and partially sighted visitors? Increasingly, digitalization offers visitors new, barrier-free opportunities for interaction with cultural heritage in GLAM. Today, 3D  technologies worldwide are actively exploring strategies for the blind and partially sighted to experience art. My study examines 3D models as tactile, and gamified remediations and develops strategies and inclusive design principles for use of blind and partially sighted where artworks and artifacts cannot be touched.


Sakiru Adebayo, Assistant Professor, English and Cultural Studies
Complex Implication: Privilege, Positionality and Racialized Immigration in Canada
This paper examines what it means for Black African immigrant subjects to be discriminated against — yet implicated — in Canada’s settler-colonial project. It investigates the intricacies of what Mahmood Mamdani (2020) describes as being “neither native nor settler”. It studies the ‘complex implication’ (Rothberg, 2019) of racialized immigrant subjects in Canada’s original sin. It asks: what does it mean to be a privileged stranger? When does the immigrant dream of a ‘better life’ become entangled in the crime of Indigenous dispossession? And when does the implicated immigrant subject become an object of exploitation in the perpetuation of the settler colonial ambition? What does it mean to be an empowered yet disposable postcolonial subject? This paper employs an autoethnographic method of writing and analysis; it uses personal diary, observations, meditations and conversations with others to theorize questions of allegiance and alliance. It employs an ethnography of the everyday (JL Caughey, 1982) to explore the thin line between witnessing and spectatorship in the ongoing settler-colonial violence in Canada. It is also an attempt at auto-theorizing privilege, its fluidity, and what Blackness has got to do with it. It addresses the question of the global African elite and its accompliceship with the capitalist exploitation of people of African descent. Above all, this paper seeks to reinforce the necessity –while being cognizant of the precarity – of solidarity in the experience of racialization and classed immigration in Canada. It seeks to establish the need for– while recognizing the incalculability of – responsibility in the collective quest for justice and repair in Canada. It concludes that the work of implication is a work of uncomfortable self-reflexivity; it involves having a demanding relationship with history.

Marie Loughlin, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies
Who Do You Think You Are? Genealogy’s Early Modern and Contemporary Connections
While family genealogy continues to have the reputation of being solely the tool of cultural elites and the clearest testimony to a debilitating human investment in social inequality, in early modern England familial genealogy was not just about rank and social status. It was, in fact, a productively flexible discourse; its signs, after all, were increasingly available not just for the use of traditional elites, but also for the use of marginalized individuals and communities, from women and tradesmen to merchants and Roman Catholics. From the mid-sixteenth century, there were, moreover, enormous changes in what people imagined genealogy meant for them as individuals and as members of families and communities; individuals became increasingly interested in the lives and deeds of specific ancestors as models for self-fashioning and touchstones for self-knowing. At the beginning of the 21st century, family genealogical research and publication exists in a similar moment of tension, personally and numinously significant for millions of people, but subject to increasing and popular excoriation as anti-scientific, anti-democratic, and anti-Enlightenment.


Yasaman Lotfizadeh, MA student in the Digital Arts and Humanities theme, IGS
Representing Nature in an Illustrated Khamseh of Nezami Manuscript
Using a selected Persian Safavid Khamseh of Nezami manuscript from the mid-sixteenth century, British Library Or. 2265, this study examines how painters portrayed the natural world by comparing the poet’s verbal imagery in the text with the visual choices of the painters. Using digital humanities tools and methods and close-looking, I investigate the typology and range of nature representations in text and image to better understand Safavid artists’ perceptions of the natural world.

Brianne Christensen, MA in English student
Hospitable Narratives: The Synergies of Hospitality Studies, Migration Ethics, and New Sincerity Literature
Socio-political tensions resulting from concurrent increases in globalization and hyper-nationalism, and the assurance that climate change will expedite the migration of people over the coming decades, identify our present moment of history as the unstable precipice of multiple crises. My Master’s thesis is a critical effort to understand the implications of hospitality in a time of multiple crises related to border crossings, security, and migration ethics. I suggest that British writer Ali Smith’s recent four-volume Seasonal Quartet marks a turn to an ethical, socially accountable fiction that responds to this reality through her use of sincere, hospitable narrative techniques. I am most interested in the quartet’s numerous representations of the figure of the stranger. When completed, my work will locate Smith’s quartet in the growing corpus of New Sincerity literature. My arguments and close readings are currently under construction; therefore, this presentation will navigate the synergies between hospitality studies, migration ethics, and New Sincerity literature. I will demonstrate their collective potential to promote an affective recognition of the stranger­­.