|English, Film, & Theatre|
The Department of English, Film, and Theatre integrates four major academic streams–Literature, Creative Writing, Film, and Theatre. The Department offers students an opportunity to extend their understanding of culture by engaging in the study of works of literature, drama, and film. The Department's courses seek to acquaint students with a wide variety of texts and critical approaches, while at the same time enabling students to work intensively on their analytic and writing skills. Students will find courses in the various historical periods and genres of British, American, Canadian and other national literatures, courses in theatrical performance and production, courses in international and regional film, courses in critical theory and analytic methods, and a range of courses (at the 3000 and 4000 levels) which may invite special approaches to literary, dramatic, and filmic texts. The Department also offers several courses in creative writing which enable students to engage directly in the act of literary composition, thereby deepening their appreciation of literature as a cultural and personal activity.
Dr. Diana Brydon is involved in research that considers human rights issues from several complementary perspectives. As a literary and cultural critic, Dr. Brydon is interested in the relationship between human rights discourses and narrated lives, the stories people write about the denial of their rights and their struggles to affirm their rights, especially rights to autonomy, personhood, self-government and democratic practices. As a postcolonial scholar, Dr. Brydon is interested in the history of the ways in which colonized people were categorized as outside the human entirely or as lesser forms of the human, and how they challenged these views. Dr. Brydon studies the continuities between past colonialisms and present denials of full human rights to certain groups of people, on the basis of gender, culture, geography, class, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Dr. Brydon’s work with the SSHRC MCRI on Globalization and Autonomy has led her to consider the relations between academic research and equity. Dr. Brydon has been influenced by Arjun Appadurai’s claim that the right to research must be added to other human rights and by the claims of Boaventura de Souza Santos’s group that “there can be no global justice without global cognitive justice.” Dr. Brydon’s current work with the project, Building Global Democracy (www.buildingglobaldemocracy.org) approaches questions of human rights on a global scale in relation to the gaps in global democratic governance and strategies for addressing them. This project bring together academics, activists and policymakers from around the world to advance knowledge and practice for greater public participation and control in the governance of global affairs. Her current SSHRC-funded partnership development project, Brazil/Canada Knowledge Exchange: developing transnational literacies, brings these concerns into dialogue with national and global citizenship education, using the teaching of English to encourage self-reflection and create reciprocal forms of knowledge production through which deeper cross-cultural understandings might be created.
Dr. Cariou’s SSHRC Research/Creation Project, "Re-Storying the Human Zoo" is about the ways in which indigenous people in the Nineteenth Century were constructed in terms of natural history discourses, to such an extreme that they were sometimes displayed in zoos alongside animals. This project is about the "animalization" of indigenous people, and the ways in which this ideology of animalization contrib uted to an erasure of their human rights. Dr. Cariou’s 2002 book, Lake of the Prairies, is an examination of the psychology and politics of racial identification and discrimination in the Northern Saskatchewan community of Meadow Lake. Lake of the Prairies also includes an examination of human rights abuses in the Canadian military's Somalia scandal, looking closely at the story of Clayton Matchee, one of the soldiers implicated in the torture and murder of Somali youth Shidane Arone. Dr. Cariou’s films "Overburden" and "Land of Oil and Water" are both about the human rights of indigenous people who are facing environmental, economic and cultural devastation as a result of oil sands developments in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. In these films as well as in his fiction writing, Dr. Cariou is particularly interested in seeking out indigenous voices in order to see how indigenous people are responding to corporate incursions into their land and their lives. In fact, virtually all of Dr. Cariou’s work is focused on exploring new ways of understanding and combating human rights abuses that have been directed toward indigenous people.
One of the projects Dr. Faubert is currently developing is an edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s novellas Mary, A Fiction (1788) and The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria (1798) for Broadview Press. In keeping with the Jacobin literary milieu out of which Wollstonecraft wrote, she used her fiction to illustrate the philosophical and political messages that she had expressed in non-fiction prose, such as the feminist manifesto A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), a response to Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791). Excerpts from such texts on human rights will comprise a wide-ranging set of appendices for this edition and Dr. Faubert’s detailed scholarly introduction will delineate how Wollstonecraft used fiction to appeal to a broader public than polemical works could, and, through the passionate nature of her prose, to inspire her readers to act and create real change in the battle to obtain equal rights for women.
Dr. Groome’s research into the work of women as directors of Shakespeare's plays in Britain from the late nineteenth century to the present day has uncovered two distinctive kinds of discrimination. Dr. Groome has evidence of women not being given the same opportunities as male directors by the major, "established" theatre companies and by some of the regional theatre companies. Dr. Groome has also found discrimination in the sense that the directing work of women has not been given nearly the credit or "profile" as is given to the work of men. In this respect Dr. Groome’s research is an important piece of "herstory," of recovering women's work in the theatre
In Dr. Groome’s work as director of Caryl Churchill's play Cloud 9, she is concerned to make staging decisions that foreground the themes of racism, class struggle, homophobia and misogyny as manifested in British colonial Africa in 1879 and the continuity between these oppressions and those of Thatcher's Britain in the late 1970s. It is commonly accepted by theatre semioticians that the director's work in making a multiplicity of original staging decisions mark the director out as author of the production, of the performance text and that the performance text enjoys the status of being an original, creative work every bit as much as the dramatic text. Dr. Groome is, in these terms, the creator of an original work concerning a set of complex, inter-related circumstances of discrimination.
Much of Professor Chris Johnson's scholarly and artistic work concerns the plays of George F. Walker, one of Canada's leading playwrights, and a writer noted for his championing of human rights and his efforts to "give a voice to the voiceless". Prof. Johnson published a book about Walker in 1999, has written numerous articles and papers about his work, and has directed several productions of Walker plays, most recently Escape from Happiness in the Black Hole, and a Prairie Theatre Exchange Young Company production of Tough! at this year's Fringe Festival. He is currently preparing for publication an article about This Is Wonderland, a TV series written by Walker and Dani Romain about the plight of the homeless and dispossessed adrift in the Canadian legal system: the article will appear in Canadian Theatre Review's special issue about "Canadian drama and the law and the courts" this spring.
Dr. Hee-Jung Serenity Joo is an assistant professor in the department of English, film, and theatre. Her research and teaching interests include comparative ethnic American literatures, speculative fiction (science fiction, utopian fiction, dystopian fiction, etc.), critical race studies, and globalization studies. She is researching the historical relationship between speculative fiction and scientific racism, starting from the American Eugenics Movement of the early 1900s and comparing it to the DNA revolution of the 21st century. Joo is interested in how literature, as a cultural narrative, helps to influence popular understandings of racial categories at different historical moments.
She is also investigating the rise of the literary genre of disaster fiction at the turn of the 21st century. She argues that such apocalyptic expressions are structured upon a logic of cultural anxiety, whether in terms of race, gender and/or sexuality. Joo is particularly interested in how different writers imagine and represent new workings of race and racism in this supposedly "post-racial" era of neoliberal, late capitalism.
Her future projects include an interest in the numerous cultural representations (memoirs, graphic novels, photography, etc.) of Hurricane Katrina, and exploring their impact not only in the U.S. South but also within a global framework of race, ecology, and inequality. She has published or has forthcoming numerous articles on race, gender and speculative fiction written by authors such as Larissa Lai, Octavia Butler, George Schuyler and Karen Tei Yamashita.
Dr. Libin’s research has been focused on questions of ethics and human rights for some time. Dr. Libin’s publications include work on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearings, the representation of the First Nations in 19th Century Canadian poetry, and the definition of the human in contemporary South African literature. Dr. Libin has taught graduate seminars in trauma theory and literature, the question of ethics in theory and literature, and the literary representations of political states of emergency in international literature. He continues his research into question of the ethical in human and animal rights with a focus on African literature in particular.
Dr. Medoro’s research centers on the definition of the human as a category of living beings separate from other animals and how that category ritualizes rights of membership to include or exclude such entities as fetal life, women, and non-human animals.
Both in the classroom and in his research, Dr. Muller is preoccupied with rights issues arising from the (sometime violent) collisions of moral, aesthetic, political, and strategic discourses in works of art, especially works of narrative fiction and film. His work seeks to generate insights into such matters as the moral and other indignities accompanying suffering, spectatorial ethics (i.e with the moral dimension of witnessing atrocity), historical truth claims, and representations of the defense (and diminishment) of human freedom. In so far as each of these foci obliges judgments concerning the nature of human dignity (its aetiology, ontology, scope, and moral force), Dr. Muller’s teaching and scholarship are deeply implicated in a wider set of juridical, historical, moral-philosophical, and popular conversations about the universality of human rights.
Dr. Perkins’ main research for the last five or six years has focused on the ways that women writers in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century Scotland established a professional role for themselves in the face of a growing social social consensus that women had little or no place in a public, professional literary world. This research, which hasresulted in a monograph (in press) thus involves detailed investigation of the ways in which the social power of a particular group is both constructed and contested and an exploration of how excluded or marginalized voices can make themselves heard. In addition, Dr. Perkins has produced scholarly editions of four novels from this period that explore issues of colonization, slavery, and the roles of the working class: Elizabeth Hamilton's Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah (1796), which is one of the first novels about Britain's role in India; Hamilton's Cottagers of Glenburnie (1808), which is a call for working-class education; Robert Bage's Hermsprong (1796), which features a British hero raised in a Native American community and who is, as a result, a harsh critic of the British political system; and John Moore's Zeluco (1789), which is set partly in the West Indies and features an extended attack on contemporary justifications of slavery.
Dr. Perkins is currently working on an electronic edition of selected journalism by the Scottish writer Christian Isobel Johnstone. In the 1820s, Johnstone founded and edited, with her husband, two short-lived radical magazines directed towards a working-class readership, and in the 1830s, she took over the editorship of Tait's Magazine, (becoming the first British woman to edit a major periodical). She was a novelist and literary critic, but she also wrote extensively on education and social reform, and she was a very harsh critic -- in both her fiction and non-fiction -- of pre- and post-Union British policy in Ireland and its impact on the Irish poor.
Dr. Sinclair is the director of the University of Manitoba's English media lab. He specializes in critical theory and how our minds process writing and reading. His first novel, Automatic World, was published in 2009.
Along with University of Manitoba sociologist Dr. Andrew Woolford and English professor Adam Muller, Sinclair is working on a research project that brings together human rights and cutting-edge technology.
What if both the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had access to technologies capable of bringing audiences closer to the suffering caused by mass violence and forced assimilation? How might computer-generated “augmented” realities and virtualities facilitate the representation of historical injustices and the production of historical memory?
To find out, the trio will look closely at emergent digital technologies en route to developing a prototype of an augmented reality program to be demonstrated within a museum environment. This program will be designed to equip museum visitors with an enhanced experience of an Indian residential school in Manitoba.
A pilot study will introduce a small sample of users to the AR program and, using before-and-after interviews and questionnaires, invite them to estimate the degree to which it increased their understanding of atrocity events and promoted empathy for those who suffered them.
Dr. Young’s research on middle-class women and work in Victorian Britain traces efforts by women and proponents of women's rights to redefine the idea of what was acceptable work for "respectable" (i.e. middle-class) women to do. This redefinition involved recasting certain kinds of conventionally feminine work, such as nursing, as professional rather than as menial, as well as fighting for the right for women to enter traditionally masculine enclaves, such as the civil service, medicine, and law. Gaining the sanction of their culture to enter the public sphere and become part of the workforce meant independence for women, both from financial dependence on the men and from the cultural expectation that they must marry.