My recent primary research interest in environmental history – the interaction of the human and natural environment – has focused on Newfoundland and Labrador, and lately on the region of the Humber Arm/Bay of Islands sub-region in western Newfoundland to the south of the UNESCO world site, Gros Morne National Park. This work consists of an edited collection, several published chapters and articles, and a range of conference papers including the following examples:
Outrageous Seas: Shipwreck and Survival in the Waters off Newfoundland, 1583-1893. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999
A study of how the sea and shipwreck narratives have contributed to defining social and cultural identity
Nineteenth Century Medical and Anthropological Views of the Labrador Inuit. In “Very Rough Country”: Proceedings of the Labrador Explorations Symposium, ed. Martha MacDonald. St. John’s: The Labrador Institute, 2010, pp. 228-250
A study of how late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century medical practitioners and anthropologists applied their respective “knowledge” and applied it to geography and climate in an effort to construct racial stereotypes of the Inuit.
Ship Owners, Captains, and Fishers: Narrative Accounts of Disputed American Fishing Practices in Newfoundland Waters, 1890-1925. Paper presented at a session on “Crossing the Land-Sea Border: Fishermen and Environmental Identity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Its Islands,” American Society for Environmental History Association, Toronto, ON, 6 April 2013
The Folk Art of Bond Penney: Outwoodsmen and Logging Culture in Western Newfoundland, 1939-46. Paper presented at a session on Nature, Culture, and Power, Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Vancouver, B.C., 3 June 2008
Blogged after July 1 together with other presentations in environmental history on the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE) website at http://niche.uwo.ca/node/13.
Indigenizing the Academy: the case of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, and the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Resurgence Morning Watch: Education and Social Analysis, 41 (Spring 2013) – in press
A review of the literature on the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq and history of the Qalipu First Nations band and how scholarship, politics, and post-secondary education related to Aboriginal issues has been influenced by history, place, identity and the environment.
Humber River Basin/Bay of Islands interactive website
A long-term project documenting and interpreting the environmental history of communities in the region which encompasses studies of Woods Island – a resettled outport; Crow Gulch – an abandoned “jackytar” (or metis) community; the American fishing presence at the turn of the twentieth century; the impact of the Corner Brook pulp and paper mill and the industrialization of the region; a literary and visual history of the region’s environment, and other themes.
A collaborative effort with Glenn Payne, Geospatial Research Facility, College of the North Atlantic (Corner Brook), and the Town of Humber Arm South Resettlement House and Museum (Benoit’s Cove) in the digital reconstruction of the harbour of Woods Island, as it existed in the 1950s prior to resettlement. This included a virtual fly-over of the harbour and the digital reconstruction of its vernacular architecture, then linked to historical photos of the properties and the families which owned them together with oral history describing the resettlement process and how it impacted traditional outport life.
A collaborative effort with Darin Brooks, GIS Co-ordinator, College of the North Atlantic (Corner Brook), in a “soft” GIS project – a “story map” which situates, links, and compares old and new photographs using applied GIS mapping.
Susan Brown’s research centers on an ongoing interdisciplinary collaborative research endeavor—the Orlando Project (www.ualberta.ca/orlando), which published its flagship literary historical textbase online with Cambridge University Press in 2006 (orlando.cambridge.org) and continues to innovate in the production of advanced tools for feminist literary research. Scholarly reviews have heralded the textbase as setting a new standard both in its scholarly area and in its digital delivery. This research has received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Major Collaborative Research Initiatives, Standard Research Grants, and Image, Text, Sound Technology programs, and from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
With the co-editors of Orlando, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy, she received the Society for Digital Humanities/ Société pour l’étude des médias interactifs Outstanding Achievement Award in 2006 for the leadership of a project of “international significance” that is “an impressive example of a project experimenting with computing in the context of meaningful humanities inquiry and the site for training for graduate students in digital scholarship.” The Orlando team was awarded the 2008 T-REX (Text Analysis Developer’s Alliance Research Evaluation Exchange) Best New Tool Prize for development of its Degrees of Separation Tool which provides a means of exploring social networks in literary history.
She has taught courses ranging from second semester to graduate level, on topics ranging from Victorian poetry, industrial fiction, women’s writing, feminist literary history, gender and genre, generic change, the serial novel, and the female bildungsroman to the representation of sexual assault in feminist theory and fiction. She has supervised MA and PhD students on topics including hypertext, the gothic, the Victorian novel, the New Woman, detective fiction, Victorian fiction and imperialist discourse, and domestic assault in Victorian fiction. She received a University of Guelph Faculty Association Special Merit teaching award in 1999 for the use of digital methods in her teaching. In summer 2009 she co-taught a course in Digital Methods for Literary History at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria.
Since joining the University of Guelph in 1991, she has contributed to various aspects of university administration, including membership on the Senate Awards Committee and Board of Graduate Studies committee, and chairing on the College of Arts Awards Committee and the Senate Awards Editorial Subcommittee. She has served on numerous hiring and selection committees, participated actively in graduate and undergraduate curriculum development, and chaired the committee that proposed the joint doctoral program in English and Drama with Wilfrid Laurier University. She served on the Board of Governors from 2002-2005. She sat on the Portal Management Team and chaired its Evaluation subcommittee. She chaired the Visiting Speakers Committee in 2008. She has adjudicated for SSHRC, OGS, and internal scholarships and awards, as well as for the HASTAC MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition. She has served on the editorial boards of the Victorian Review, NINES (Networked Interface for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship), and the Poetess Archive.
Recent publications (often collaboratively authored) include: “Published Yet Never Done: the tension between projection and completion in digital humanities research,” Digital Humanities Quarterly (2009); “Pompilia: The Woman (in) Question.” Reprinted in Robert Browning’s Poetry (Norton, 2007); “Designing Rich-Prospect Access to a Feminist Literary History,” WWR: The Official Magazine of Women Writing and Reading (2007); two essays on the Orlando Project in the Silver Jubilee Issues of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (2007); Between Markup and Delivery; or Tomorrow’s Electronic Text Today,” Mind Technologies: Humanities Computing and the Canadian Academic Community (University of Calgary P, 2006); “Alternatives to the Missionary Position: Anna Leonowens and Victorian Travel Writing,” reprint in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism (Gale 2007); “Facing the Deep: The Orlando Project Delivery System 1.0.” Text Technology (2005); “Sorting Things In: feminist knowledge representation and changing modes of scholarly production,” Women’s Studies International Forum 29 (2006).
I’m currently associate professor of philosophy at Laurentian University, and a faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Humanities M.A. program and the Human Studies Ph.D. program.
I studied at DePaul University (Ph.D.) in Chicago, The University of Western Ontario (M.A.), and the University of Alberta (B.A. Hons.). My teaching and research interests are primarily in 19th and 20th century European thought, touching on phenomenology, ontology, contemporary French philosophy, aesthetic theories, environmental philosophy, and critical animal studies. I sit on a number of scholarly editorial boards, including the journal “Environmental Humanities” and the Wilfrid Laurier University Press’s “Environmental Humanities” series.
My research continues to involve animal studies in continental philosophy. I am at work on a project exploring endangered species and species extinction from existential/phenomenological viewpoints, as well as co-editing and co-translationg the writings of Dominique Lestel, Vinciane Despret, and Roberto Marchesini for Angelaki (3 special issues forthcoming in 2014-2015). I am also translating Vinciane Despret’s “Que Diraient les Animaux” for UMP’s “Posthumanities” series (forthcoming 2015).
Currently I have several research projects underway, all at various stages. If you are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Here they are, in brief:
Continental Philosophy and Ethology
This project is a continuation of research already undertaken (e.g., my book Onto-Ethologies), albeit more broad in scope. I continue to be interested in how we conceptualize “behavior” and how it is problematically ascribed to individual agents. I’m primarily interested in how a number of philosophers and ethologists have taken to task the continental tradition in philosophy for its apparent lack of attention to real animal behavior. Animals are too often abstract units, not earthly enough, as Donna Haraway has put it. Among the figures I’m focusing on include Dominique Lestel, Vinciane Despret, Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, and Donna Haraway. In conjunction with this, I’m currently co-editing with Matt Chrulew and Jeff Bussolini three special issues on philosophical ethology for Angelaki (2014-2015), will be translating Vinciane Despret’s Que diraient les animaux (2012) for University of Minnesota Press’s “Posthumanities” series (2015), and in the process of co-editing (with Matt and Jeff) a book manuscript on continental philosophy and ethology. As a side note to these projects, I continue to be interested in how Uexküll’s thought appears in contemporary thinkers, such as Latour and Peter Sloterdijk.
Heidegger’s Philosophy of Nature
While a great deal of attention has been paid to Heidegger’s writings on technology, the earth, and his general interest for environmental and ecological studies, few works have been devoted to laying out his philosophy of nature. My work here is a general, scholarly look at Heidegger’s philosophy of nature, particularly as informed through his readings of the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle, Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Trakl.
Precarious Communities: Towards a Phenomenology of Extinction
My interest here is with how we ought to think through extinction, philosophically and practically (not that I necessarily distinguish these two). It has often been noted and documented that we are currently living through our Earth’s sixth mass extinction, with vast numbers of species either threatened or endangered. Extinction (and endangerment) is an often studied field in the sciences, but not a lot of critical, theoretical attention is paid to it from a humanities perspective (with some notable, and very good, exceptions). I am coming to this problem from two different loci: on the one hand, to think about extinction from the standpoint of Western philosophy’s infatuation with death (and tragedy), which is almost always death in its individual singularity, and notably what it might mean to live with extinction surrounding us; and, on the other hand, to think through the more philosophical questions with respect to my most immediate surroundings in Northeastern Ontario, and Canada more generally.
Spécialiste de l’histoire des sciences et de l’histoire environnementale, je m’intéresse spécifiquement aux rapports entre gouvernement, environnement, et représentation de la nature. Mes recherches actuelles portent sur les activités scientifiques gouvernementales dans les secteurs minier, agricole et forestier au Québec (l’invention de l’environnement au Québec), ainsi que sur les conventions phytopathologiques internationales et la globalisation des épidémies d’insectes et de maladies végétales au début du XXe siècle (L’unification entomologique du globe).
I am a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Colin Coates, on a collaborative research project, Trading Consequences, which has funding from a Digging into Data grant. In July 2013, I will join the History Department at the University of Saskatchewan as an assistant professor.
Ashlee Cunsolo Willox
I am a Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities and an Assistant Professor in Nursing and Indigenous Studies at Cape Breton University. As a community-engaged and community-based social sciences and health researcher, my interdisciplinary research works at the intersection of place, culture, health, and environment. I have a particular interest in the social, environmental and cultural determinants of health, Indigenous health, participatory digital and decolonizing methods, environmental ethics, and social and health justice.
Since 2009, I have been working in partnership with Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador to integrate Indigenous and western knowledge on research topics ranging from climate change and physical and mental health, youth resilience and engagement, cultural continuity, youth mentorship programs, food security and sharing, land camps, adaptation to rapid change, and fostering individual and community wellness.
Before coming to Cape Breton University and taking up the Canada Research Chair position, Ashlee worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at McGill University in the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group, and completed a BAH and a PhD at the University of Guelph.
Currently I have several research projects on-going. If you are interested in learning more about any of these projects, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Ilikkuset-Lingannet! / Culture-Connect! Program
The Ilikkuset-Lingannet! / Culture-Connnect! program is a new Inuit-run initiative in Rigolet, Makkovik, and Postville, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. It provides the opportunity for Inuit youth to work with adult role models through immersive, experiential environments to learn cultural skills, such as hunting, trapping, sewing, art, music, and food preparation. Currently, there are 15 youth and 15 mentors in the program. Each youth spends approximately 4-5 weeks with each mentor, before moving to the next skill. This project was set up in response to the identified need to increase programming for youth in the communities that provide cultural connection, promote self-esteem, and create opportunities for building relationships with positive adult role models. Youth are currently documenting their stories and experiences in order to create a collaborative group film (forthcoming March 2014).
Inuit Mental Health & Adaptation to Climate Change
The Inuit Mental Health and Adaptation to Climate Change project is a community-led regional project based in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and working in collaboration with the Inuit Community Governments of Nain, Hopedale, Postville, and Makkovik, the ‘My Word’: Storytelling and Digital Media Lab, and the Nunatsiavut Government. This community-based and community-led research aims to explore and examine the connections between changes in snow, ice, weather, water, animals, and plants throughout the Nunatsiavut region and mental and emotional health and well-being. The IMHACC project builds off research conducted in Rigolet through the Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories project, which became the first case study conducted examining the impacts of climate change on health and well-being within an Inuit context. Understanding the importance of this topic, the communities of Nunatsiavut united together to begin a regional assessment of the impacts of climate change on mental health and well-being, and to look at potential mental health adaptation strategies and support services. Data was collected through 110 in-depth interviews, 17 digital stories, and 20 video interviews, which formed the basis for a documentary film on climate change and mental health (forthcoming March 2014). This research was featured on CBC’s Quirks & Quarks in January 2014: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/climate-change-rattles-mental-health-of-inuit-in-labrador-1.2492180, as well as being featured in news media across North America. Intro video about the project: http://vimeo.com/59012547
The Inuit Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change project (IK-ADAPT) is a trans-disciplinary initiative that combines scientific research and Inuit traditional knowledge (IK) to develop an evidentiary base to inform policy and programming needed to assist Inuit communities adapt to the health effects of climate change. Working closely with 6 communities across Arctic Canada and knowledge users at multiple levels, the project examines ways to document, conserve, and promote IK to help prevent, prepare for, and manage the health impacts of climate change. The focus on IK reflects the continued importance of traditional approaches to health, where ‘health’ captures physical, mental and social well-being. It also reflects recognition of the importance of IK for climate adaptation, and concern across the North that this knowledge is being incompletely transmitted to younger generations. http://www.ikadapt.ca
Environment and/as Mourning
I am currently co-editing a book with Dr. Karen Landman at the University of Guelph. The Environment and/as Mourning collection brings together 15 authors from around the world in order to approach the theoretical, practical, and praxiological intersections between experiences of grief and mourning and the environment. This volume brings together a wide variety of backgrounds and projects in the social, human, and animal sciences, as well as the humanities. This booked stemmed from an article I published on re-conceptualising climate change as the work of mourning.
Centre for Community-Engaged Health Research
I am currently creating and establishing the Centre for Community-Engaged Health Research (CCEHR) at Cape Breton University. This Centre will bring together researchers, health professionals, clinicians, organizations, and communities to collaboratively tackle the complex health challenges in Cape Breton, Canada and abroad. Through the CCEHR, our multi-disciplinary team plans to mobilize cutting-edge research results into tangible health strategies and health programming that aims to enhance and support the underlying determinants of health and well-being. The CCEHR will be structured around three overlapping themes and priorities—Indigenous peoples’ health, climatic and environmental change and health, health and place, and health justice/equity—all centred around participatory research methods. Embedded within the Centre’s space will be a full digital media lab, containing all needed photography and video equipment, computers, editing software, and sound-proof facilities to create videos, multi-media health resources, and documentary films, and to support a variety of innovative media-based health methodologies. Together, the members of the CCEHR and their partners and collaborators will work towards health strategies that can help individuals, communities, researchers, health practitioners, and decision-makers enhance health and assist in decreasing health disparities throughout Cape Breton, Canada, and abroad.
Some Personal Favourites from the Digital Storytelling Projects
Tanya’s Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17-j-aO9efw&list=TLrLTzUM1VsTM
Melva’s Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e_FZj9-Mss
Marilyn’s Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsvYQ-Fyp78&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLZtUnoBA-9PA
Kenny’s Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoysMmTP2lo&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLrLTzUM1VsTM
Les villes constituent mon principal objet de recherche que j’examine à travers l’histoire de leur mise en forme concrète et symbolique. Je cherche à montrer que le travail entourant l’organisation physique des villes façonne la manière dont elles sont gouvernées et contribue à la structuration des rapports sociaux et politiques à cette échelle. Cette façon de concevoir l’histoire des villes comme produit de composantes matérielles et sociales interreliées a donné lieu à la publication de travaux sur le développement des espaces publics de culture et de loisirs à Montréal et Toronto aux 19e et 20esiècles, et sur la structuration du domaine municipal par le truchement des réseaux d’eau potable et d’eaux usées. Récemment, j’ai publié une monographie sur la transformation des rapports entre Montréal et l’eau en cherchant à reconstituer le rôle de l’eau et de ses transformations successives dans le processus d’urbanisation de cette ville depuis le début du 19e siècle. Depuis, je poursuis mes travaux sur l’histoire de l’environnement à l’échelle plus vaste du système hydrographique Grands Lacs – Saint-Laurent.
Par ailleurs, je m’intéresse aux enjeux liés à l’écriture et aux usages publics de l’histoire, sur le plan théorique et pratique. J’ai participé à divers débats et réflexions sur l’enseignement de l’histoire. De même, il m’arrive de collaborer à l’élaboration d’expositions ou à la production de documents historiques destinés à divers publics.
Montréal au fil de ses rivières : lecture cartographique et environnementale de son tissue urbain
(Institut de recherche sur l’histoire de l’architecture, 2012-2014)
(Valérie Mahaut, École d’architecture – Michèle Dagenais, histoire, Université de Montréal)
Ce projet de recherche multidisciplinaire (architecture, aménagement, histoire) vise à mettre au jour et interpréter les traces de l’eau en contexte montréalais avec l’objectif de faire ressortir le pouvoir « morphogénérateur » de l’eau dans la production des formes urbaines. Pour cela, nous avons constitué un répertoire de cartes contenant plusieurs centaines de cartes qui ont été numérisées, parmi lesquelles certaines ont été géoréférencées. Cependant, même en travaillant les cartes de façon à faire correspondre le plus possible leur tracé, le résultat obtenu est difficilement utilisable. Impossible dans les circonstances de retracer avec précision le parcours des cours d’eau sur l’île. Pour contourner ce problème, nous avons construit une maquette de l’île de Montréal à partir d’une carte topographique de 2009. Cette maquette exagère 60 fois la topographie par rapport au relief existant afin de mettre en évidence et à valider le tracé et la localisation des composantes hydrographiques (lits de rivières, bassins et milieux humides) repérées sur les différentes cartes historiques de Montréal. Réalisation envisagée d’une maquette 3D numérique qui, elle aussi, s’avèrera utile dans la poursuite de la recherche, orientée vers l’histoire de cours d’eau particuliers.
Le système Grands Lacs – Saint-Laurent : définitions et représentations, 19e-20e siècles
(CRSH, développement savoir, 2012-2014)
(Michèle Dagenais – Stephen Bocking, environmental studies, Trent U. – Jamie Benidickson, faculté de droit, U. Ottawa – Stéphane Castonguay, histoire, UQTR – Ken Cruikshank, histoire, McMaster U.)
Ce projet de recherche vise à reconstituer comment, historiquement, s’est construite la notion de « système Grands Lacs – Saint-Laurent » en scrutant les processus à travers lesquels ont été produites les définitions employées pour le gérer. Nous cherchons à comprendre comment, sur les plans juridique, politique et écologique, des critères distincts mènent à la mise en forme de définitions parfois conflictuelles, parfois complémentaires, d’une entité qui s’est construite graduellement. Les recherches sont menées dans les documents des instances juridiques, gouvernementales et scientifiques afin de construire des outils méthodologiques et cartographiques sur le système GL-SL qui seront versés sur un site internet et une base de données intégrée: bibliographies, répertoire des groupes de recherche et des sites consacrés aux Grands Lacs – Saint-Laurent, collection de cartes géographiques, sources numérisées.
Jill Didur, Ph.D. English (York University) is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Concordia University. A specialist in postcolonial Anglophone literature and theory, Dr. Didur’s research has focused on a wide variety of related areas including, locative media, historical memory, partition narratives and secular discourse in South Asian, colonial and postcolonial travel writing, ecocriticism, landscape and garden studies, diasporic literature and culture, and globalisation. She is the author of Unsettling Partition: Literature, Gender, Memory (U of T Press, 2006, & Pearson Longman, South Asia, 2007). She is the co-editor of special issues of Cultural Critique: Critical Posthummanism (2003) and /Cultural Studies: Revisiting the Subaltern in the New Emmpire (2003). She is a member of the Concordia research axis of Figura, le Centre de recherche sur le texte et l’imaginaire and she serves on the editorial boards of ARIEL: A Review of International Literature in English, Postcolonial Text, and Topia: Journal of Canadian Cultural Studies and the executive of the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS). She has been awarded fellowships and research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, and Le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture.
2011-2012 : Figura, NT2-Concordia, Soutien de l’OIC (Project Leader) “A Mis-Guide to Himalayan Plants”
Principal Investigator, SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2008-2012 “Gardenworthy: Planthunting in South Asian literature and travel writing”
Seeing Green: Visual Media and the Making of American Environmentalism (under contract with the University of Chicago Press)
I am an Associate Professor of Nineteenth-Century British Literature, with a specialization in British Romantic literature. After earning a D.Phil. at Oxford and a period as Research Associate at the Northrop Frye Centre, University of Toronto, I joined the Département d’études anglaises at the Université de Montréal in June 2001. My publications include two dozen articles and essays on Romantic authors in such journals as European Romantic Review, Byron Journal, Keats-Shelley Journal, and Keats-Shelley Review. Routledge published my monograph, Leigh Hunt and the London Literary Scene, in 2005. Much of my work has been editorial and collaborative. I am the editor of Mary Shelley’s Fictions: From Frankenstein to Falkner (Macmillan, 2000), and one of the general editors of the six-volume edition of The Selected Writings of Leigh Hunt (Pickering & Chatto, 2003).
Remapping Leigh Hunt’s Literary World
This new project will explore Leigh Hunt’s place within London’s literary scene throughout his lifetime with an approach combining traditional literary studies and digital humanities.
Queering Film Adaptations, 1816-2005
This project deals with a range of interpretations of seven novels published between 1816 and 2005 through the medium of cinema and queer theory to engage with theoretical issues of adaptation and sexuality. Authors to be discussed include Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Patricia Highsmith, Christopher Isherwood, Monique Proulx, and Michael Cunningham.
Leigh Hunt as Victorian Writer, 1830-1860
This SSHRC-funded project takes up Hunt’s life and career after 1828 until the publication of the second edition of his Autobiography in 1860, a year after his death in 1859. A sequel to my first monograph Leigh Hunt and the London Literary Scene, this project will be accompanied by an electronic edition of Hunt’s 1840 play A Legend of Florence, and his 1860 Autobiography.
“Technologies, Media, and Representations in Nineteenth-Century France and England”
I am the team leader of the FQRSC-funded research project ‘Technologies, Media, and Representations in Nineteenth-Century France and England’. The two years of funding from the Soutien aux équipes de recherche – Équipe en émergence program allowed for a series of informal meetings and four 2-day workshops between 2009 and 2011 for all the members of our team (17 researchers from Canada, the US, and the UK).
The core of my research programme is international environmental law, with an emphasis on the structure and functioning of international environmental regimes, and of environmental law more in general. I have been particularly interested in the impact of uncertainty on environmental law; this has led me to study the precautionary principle, which is an attempt to lay down principles for decision-making under conditions of uncertainty.
The uncertainty that most often confronts political and legal officials in environmental cases is, of course, scientific uncertainty. Environmental law and policy depend heavily on scientific inputs, and when those inputs are open-ended, legal and political authorities are caught flat-footed. In order better to understand how translations could be carried out across the boundaries between expert discourses, I have begun exploring literature on social studies of science, drawing on sociology, philosophy, and history.
My interest in the interaction among expert discourses led me to reconceptualise sustainable development as an intersection of social systems. I turned to autopoietic scholarship in sociology and law for analyses of these systems, including law, and for insights into the manner in which law communicates with its environment. Legal literature in autopoiesis is preoccupied with the paradoxical manner in which law’s validity is grounded: law, according to an autopoietic analysis, provides its own grounds for validity. But in order to have any influence on its environment, it must, of course be able to communicate with it. This can be done in a punctual fashion, through individual rulings or judgments, or in a more structured manner. Interrelationships among systems come to be more highly structured when they interact regularly, which is certainly the case with respect to the various social systems that seek to address environmental degradation.
If law provides the grounding for its own validity, this raises questions as to whether the connection between law and the sovereign state is a necessary one, or whether this connection can be rethought or broken altogether. Scholarship on transnational law explores just these questions. Some of this law is produced by states, but non-state actors are increasingly involved in the production of rules and in governance more generally. Transnational law raises a number of questions about the production of law: if law is no longer grounded in the formal structures of the state, and no longer clearly related to formal political authority, its legitimacy and validity must be explained and understood differently. Environmental law tends to flow in transnational rather than domestic or international channels; the more robust political and legal structures that are emerging in transnational space are rapidly occupied by environmental problems or issues.
I am currently working on a project on sustainable development and the precautionary principle. The common feature of both, beyond their focus on the environment, is the challenge they pose to social systems to work together. By ‘work together’ I do not have in mind the kind of happy collaboration toward a common end that often seems to be assumed in literature on sustainable development in particular. Rather, I envisage these interactions to be difficult, requiring ongoing attention to the conduits among systems, and to the institutions within individual systems that allow for processes of decoding and translation of communications from others.
Another current project focuses more squarely on law in transnational space. In this project, I draw on literature on constitutions that are not rooted in states, but rather in networks or constellations of actors and activities or objects of concern. One such network could be defined as environment, though it is more likely that the networks would not be so broadly defined, but would focus on a particular environmental problem or issue, or on a point of friction between the objective of environmental protection and other objectives such as international trade and commerce or resource extraction. Here the questions include how these networks come to be constituted and how they operate; and in particular how one can conceptualize law in these networks.
Anita Girvan is a PhD Candidate (Cultural, Social, and Political Thought Concentration), SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholar, and Centre for Global Studies Fellow on the traditional Coast and Strait Salish territory of the University of Victoria, B.C. Her research interests are at the interstices of ecological and digital culture, encompassing: ecological and digital metaphors; cultural politics of climate change; and “posthumanism” as a digital and ecological condition. Her dissertation traces “carbon footprint” metaphors and their mediating effects in the cultural politics of climate change.
Anita is currently developing a post-doctoral project entitled “Promises of the Posthuman: Ecological Resonances in a Digital Age,” which explores geo-caching, smart meters and the archive as three stories featuring an enigmatic posthumanism as metaphor that serves a way-finding function through these profoundly ambivalent times. She is also an advocate and practitioner of urban agriculture.
As a cultural historian, I am interested in the relationships between religious practices and other realms like medicine, natural philosophy, and the arts in late medieval and early modern England. Much of this work focuses on processes of cultural translation and transition. Indeed, my work straddles period-boundaries, disciplinary expectations, and configurations, aiming to fruitfully disrupt them. I see the late medieval and early modern as a coherent period of transition and cultural translation. My doctoral research exemplified these pursuits, as I examined how the experience and aims of religious reform in England were shaped by a pervasive and well established sensory culture and its theories. I took to task the persistent stereotypes in existing scholarship of the intellectualized Protestant versus the sensual Catholic. By placing the practicalities of ritual life in the context of medical, sacramental, and moral views on sensation, material cultural changes, and empirical methodologies, a much more complex picture of reform emerged. The results, outlined at length in my book, reveal a medieval and conservative approach to the Reformation by contemporaries, a view that alters the periodization of the Reformation itself.
My interest in digital humanities is extremely practical – I don’t find that the digital tools available to historians are of much use beyond simple note taking or bibliographic management. They tend not to cater to the needs of cultural and social analyses, or the tracking of the necessary data to facilitate such work. Over the past decade my work in digital humanities has moved from individual research data management in the building of a my own research web application, Promus, to the creation of a custom Content Management System CMS for the Making Publics and Virtual Textile projects at McGill, and now as a result of this activity, and most recently with a SSHRC funded project, an effective vocabulary that models historical social and cultural networks and allows their dissemination using the Research Description Framework or RDF.
Connecting the Renaissance Senses
Connecting the Renaissance Senses is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that will engage in outlining an appropriate methodology for the study of the senses in the renaissance. It will draw upon a diverse and interdisciplinary set of scholars across the width of renaissance geographies will offer more to scholars than a monograph.
The Cultural Mediation of Religion in Early Modern Europe
This collection of essays grows out of the March 2012 Conference held at McGill University, ‘Religion and Modes of Cultural Mediation in Early Modernity’. The proposal is currently under review with Cambridge University Press.
My new book project, Empiricism and Particularity in the English Reformation, will examine the ways in which medieval moral culture’s emphasis on discretion operated in conjunction with late fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century epistemological changes in the context of religious reform.
Vernacular Knowledge of the Senses
This article/chapter length project forms an element of my larger book project on empiricism. One area lacking in sensory studies of late medieval and early modern England is the extent to which men and women knew of their senses, how, and how this changed over the late fifteenth through sixteenth centuries.
As semi-professional musician, I’ve been involved in one historical reconstruction, under the production of Alexandra Buckle, and am currently involved in another with the Montreal-based choral collective One Equall Musick of which I’m a founding member.
I am an Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies, and Director of the Cultural Studies and Critical Theory MA Program at McMaster University. My teaching and research over the last fourteen years have focused on the intersections of environmental and postcolonial literary and cultural studies in the context of globalization. I am an executive member-at-large of ALECC (Association for Literature, Environment and Culture in Canada, and member of the editorial board of Wilfrid Laurier University Press’s Environmental Humanities Series).
My current research focuses on the significance of the concept of resilience in the postcolonial environmental humanities. Some of this work can be viewed via the links below:
“On the Edge of Resilience: Postcolonial Ecologies in Arundhati Roy’s Work.” Global Ecologies: Nature/Narrative/Neoliberalism Conference, 8-10 Mar. 2013, UCLA (Revised)
“The Downside of Up; Or, What’s the Matter with Resilience?”
Underground Ecocriticism Conference, London, ON: Western University,
Nov. 2-3, 2012
At the intersection of several contemporary critical streams, Stephanie Posthumus’s research focuses on the representations of the non-human, or more-than-human, in contemporary French literature.
Constructing an ecological perspective for examining 20th and 21st Century French literary texts has been the main goal of her work since she finished her doctoral thesis in 2003. As she has argued in several articles, ecocriticism, while based on a concern for global environmental problems, is not transferable from one national literature to another. The traditions, philosophies and representations of the non-human world that influence and are influenced by literature create important cultural differences that do not allow for a global ecocritical perspective. Working to develop a French ecocriticism, she draws on ideas such as l’esthétique environnementale (Nathalie Blanc), la nature-culture (Bruno Latour) and le contrat naturel (Michel Serres). Her recent articles demonstrate a move from this theoretical foundation to its possible application in the analysis of landscapes in contemporary French literary texts (see her articles on Jean-Christophe Rufin, Michel Houellebecq, Marie Darrieussecq and Michel Tournier). Her work in this field was recently acknowledged as being both original and important when she was awarded the prize for the best article published in 2009 by a member of the APFUCC (Association des professeurs de français aux universités et collèges canadiens).
A second branch of her work looks at representations of animals in contemporary French literature. Whereas ecocriticism remains on the periphery of French literary studies, the animal question has garnered much critical attention. Researching different disciplinary work on animals, from philosophy (Derrida, de Fontenay, Lestel) to ethology (Cyrulnik, Chapouthier), from literary criticism (Desblache, Simon) to animal ethics (Vilmer), Prof. Posthumus aims to define the animal question with respect to the French contemporary context. At the same time, she is interested in comparing this context to that of other European countries as the European Union has become an important ruling body for establishing laws about animal well-being and rights in Europe. The relationships between local, regional, cultural differences in a global landscape are at the heart of Dr. Posthumus’s work on ecocriticism and animal studies.
I have been an acquisitions editor at Wilfrid Laurier University Press since 2006, where I acquire and develop manuscripts in a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including film and media studies, literary studies, cultural studies and environmental studies. I also hold an MLIS and lecture in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario, where I have taught courses in publishing and media, and the organization of information. I have been a continuing member of the Library Relations Committee for the American Association of University Presses since its inception in 2010.
My interest in the digital humanities, and my contribution to this project, comes through my general interest in evolving forms of scholarly research and communication of that research, in print, digital and other media. I am currently organizing a conference (with co-organizers Janet Friskney, Research Officer, and Andrea Kosavic, Digital Initiatives Librarian, both at York University) to be held at Wilfrid Laurier University titled Interrogating Access: Current and Future Directions for Scholarly Research and Communications in Canada, 14-16 February 2014.
My work in the environmental humanities is in my role as acquisitions editor responsible for Wilfrid Laurier University Press’ Environmental Humanities series, in conjunction with series editor Cheryl Lousley and our advisory board of Brett Buchanan, Adrian J. Ivakhiv, Cate Sandilands, Susie O’Brien, Laurie Ricou, and Rob Shields. The series description outlines our goal:
Environmental thought pursues with renewed urgency the grand questions of the humanities: who we think we are, how we relate to others, and how we live in the world. But unlike most humanities scholarship, it explores these questions by crossing the lines demarcating human from animal, social from material, and objects and bodies from techno-ecological networks. Humanistic accounts of political representation and ethical recognition are re-examined in consideration of other species. Social identities are studied in relation to conceptions of the natural, the animal, the bodily, place, space, landscape, risk, and technology, and in relation to the material distribution and contestation of environmental hazards and pleasures.
The Environmental Humanities series features research that adopts and adapts the methods of the humanities to clarify the cultural meanings associated with environmental debate. The scope of the series is broad: film, literature, television, web-based media, visual arts, and physical landscapes are all crucial sites for exploring how ecological relationships and identities are lived and imagined. The Environmental Humanities series publishes scholarly monographs and essay collections in environmental cultural studies, including popular culture, film, media, and visual cultures; environmental literary criticism; cultural geography; environmental philosophy, ethics, and religious studies; and other cross-disciplinary research that probes what it means to be human, animal, and technological in an ecological world.
Bringing research and writing in environmental philosophy, ethics, cultural studies, and literature under a single umbrella, the series aims to make visible the contributions of humanities research to environmental studies, and to foster discussion that challenges and re-conceptualizes the humanities.
Dr. Geoffrey Martin Rockwell is a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, Canada. He received a B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and worked at the University of Toronto as a Senior Instructional Technology Specialist. From 1994 to 2008 he was at McMaster University where he was the Director of the Humanities Media and Computing Centre (1994 – 2004) and he led the development of an undergraduate Multimedia program funded through the Ontario Access To Opportunities Program. He has published and presented papers in the area of philosophical dialogue, textual visualization and analysis, humanities computing, instructional technology, computer games and multimedia. He is the project leader for the CFI (Canada Foundation for Innovation) funded project TAPoR, a Text Analysis Portal for Research, which has developed a text tool portal for researchers who work with electronic texts and he organized a SSHRC funded conference, The Face of Text in 2004. He has published a book “Defining Dialogue: From Socrates to the Internet” with Humanity Books.
Since my appointment to York University in 1994, I have considered my primary task as a teacher, writer and researcher to be the cultivation of the “plurality” of which Arendt writes so eloquently. We build and perceive a common world only insofar as we are articulate and passionate speakers of our own, unique relationships to it. This necessary connection of worldliness and plurality strikes me (even if it might not have Arendt) as especially true for our relationships to natural environments: only by developing a deeply particular understanding of the natural communities of which we are a part can we appear to one another in common to discuss them, and only by holding our perceptions up to the scrutiny of others can we understand our own individuality.
Reading and writing environmental literature is thus, in its exceptional focus on the tending of this relationship of plurality, a vital part of the development of an environmental public sphere. I understand my writing about Jane Rule and Derek Jarman, alongside yet quite different from my teaching of Henry David Thoreau and Catharine Parr Traill, as related acts to encourage understanding through specificity.
Rob is Henry Marshall Tory Chair and Professor in the Departments of Sociology and of Art and Design. Before being awarded the Tory Chair, Rob was Professor of Sociology and past Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University. His focus has been urban cultural studies, particularly the social use and meanings of the built environment, urban spaces and regions, including tourist destinations, local identities, and the impact of changing spatializations on cultural identities. This intellectual project has been extended through a peer-reviewed journal Space and Culture (Sage) founded in 1997 and publications on the spatiality of the city, consumption spaces as Lifestyle Shopping (ed. 1993) and Places on the Margin (Outstanding Book of the Year 1991). Recent research concerns the relevance of Cultures of Internet (ed. 1996) and The Virtual (2003) to everyday life and innovation in the production of the built environment (Building Tomorrow co-edited with André Manseau, 2005). By focusing on shopping malls, markets, theme parks, tourist attractions, and other embodied sites, Rob’s research seeks insights into the implications that spatialization, the metropolis and architecture have for personal identity and sociability, pleasure and taste, the cultures of public institutions, cities, and for ‘knowledge’ and ‘innovation’ societies. Rob has been funded as a Commonwealth Scholar and by the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada, US National Science Foundation, and the UK Department of the Environment.
I am an Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at McGill University. My primary area of research is in the design, development, usage and theorization of tools for the digital humanities, especially for text analysis and visualization. I have led or contributed significantly to projects such as Voyant Tools, the Text Analysis Portal for Research (TAPoR), theMONK Project, the Simulated Environment for Theatre, the Mandala Browser, and BonPatron. In additional to my work developing sophisticated scholarly tools, I have numerous publications related to research and teaching in the Digital Humanities, including Visual Interface Design for Digital Cultural Heritage, co-authored with Stan Ruecker and Milena Radzikowska (Ashgate 2011).
Other professional activities include serving as Vice President of both the Association for Computers and the Humanities(ACH) and the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities / Société pour l’étude de médias interactifs (SDH/SEMI), on executive committees of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Associations (ADHO) and centerNET, and as an editor ofDigital Humanities Quarterly (Digital Humanities Quarterly). Prior to moving to McGill University, I was Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University from 2004 to 2011, where I was also Director of the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship. Before joining McMaster University, I was at the University of Alberta where I was co-responsible for the creation and development of the M.A. in Humanities Computing programme from 2001 to 2004. My Ph.D. in French Literature is from Queen’s University (2000), my M.A. in French literature is from the University of Victoria (1995), and my honours B.A. in French is from the University of British Columbia (1994).
Since 2011, I have been a collaborator on the Mapping the Republic of Letters Project (http://republicofletters.stanford.edu/), a project of the Humanities + Design Lab (http://hdlab.stanford.edu/) at Stanford University. This collaborative initiative brings together a diverse group of scholars with the aim of developing and using digital tools to analyze large data sets pertaining to the early modern period. At the Early Modern Time + Networks workshop, held at Stanford in August of 2012, we began to develop a tool that could be used to visualize as a whole the data that each of us has amassed. The tool, called Knot, will enable us to visualize the social networks that existed between all of the early modern figures under study in the project. Through the use of filters for categories such as profession and place of birth, Knot can also display the connections that existed between these figures.
My contribution to the project focuses on Venetian polymath Franceso Algarotti (1712-1764). I began by creating a number of large databases detailing Algarotti’s correspondence, travels, and publications, following a standardized method that we had developed for cataloguing this data. In partnership with the DensityDesign Research Lab at the Politecnico di Milano, our data was then used to create a visualization depicting Algarotti’s travels, networks, and significant publications in a single image (http://talent.adweek.com/gallery/Republic-of-Letters-Corriere-della-Sera-La-Lettura/3614363), which was published in Il Corriere della sera along with an article that I co-authored with Paula Findlen (Stanford) on Algarotti’s travels. Over the course of the summer, we plan to use various visualization tools, including Knot, in conjunction with our data in order to ascertain what they can show us about Algarotti’s networks, publications, and travels. Paula Findlen and I then plan to use the results of these visualizations to co-author an article on the editorial history of the various versions of Algarotti’s published correspondence.
Gisèle Trudel is an artist and professor at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréral. She was Director of Hexagram-UQAM, the Centre for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technologies (2011-13) and is Co-Director of Hexagram- CIAM since 2012. In the fall of 2008, she co-founded with Thomas Corriveau and Michel Boulanger, a research group dedicated to the drawing and the moving image.
(With Stéphane Claude)
We co-founded Ælab in 1996. We focus on the alliance of documentary and experimental genres in a collaborative approach integrating individuals from different disciplines (artists, scientists, philosophers, engineers). We call our art practice ” immersive formalism.” For us, this means that a process of transduction is activated in the encounter between techniques and content that ‘spill’ or ‘carry over’ into one another and provoke movement. These are specific to situations that combines art and ecology, thereby linking nature and technology to human activity with intersecting vectors. Always changing, our practice is “between” forms that can also self-inform. Modularity in content can take shape through the various phases of a project, and vice versa. To do this, we play on juxtapositions, arrangements and the exchanges with media and with our collaborators.
Since 2006, we have created a series of works about residual matter. We have produced performative installations with LED light, digital drawing, sensors, multi-screen video and immersive sound, as presented in various spaces. The first piece, the cycle of performative microevents entitled light, sweet, cold, dark, crude LSCDC (2006-ongoing) is about wastewater treatments (gray waters), and was produced in collaboration with biologist John Todd and was presented in Québec, Germany and New Zealand. L’espace du milieu (2011), a media installation concerned with the atmosphere, the zone that supports life between Earth and Sky. This extensive and immersive video and audio installation also included a multi-projection of over 100’ wide dealing with atmospheric pollution, produced specifically for the Darling Foundry in Montreal. Forces et milieux (2011) is concerned with waste management operations at the waste landfill situated at Lachenaie, Quebec. Another project (Futur au présent, 2012), is a set of two large- scale photographs (30 x 4 feet) of fragments of glass and recycled plastic that were presented on the windows of the business district of Montreal. The new work, Milieux associés (in production) pursues the research on waste, upcycling and constructed environments and will be presented at PHI Centre in collaboration with the Biennale internationale d’art numérique (May 2014).
I am currently working on two projects. One is a study of attempts to build a self-replicating device, from the machine tools of the Industrial Revolution to the RepRaps of today. As part of this research, I have built a series of 3D printers and other CNC tools. The other project is a study of mid-20th-century analog electronic computing. My colleagues and I are reverse engineering the vacuum-tube-based computers of the 1930s, 40s and 50s using the transistors and analog integrated circuits that became available a generation later.
My ‘super-secret’ monograph Spark from the Deep is now in press at the Johns Hopkins University Press and will be available in 2013. This year I am teaching Max 6 programming to undergraduates in Western’s new digital humanities option, and to graduate students in my interactive exhibit design studio. I am also working with a number of people on the new edition of The Programming Historian and continuing to collaborate with colleagues and students on applying methods like experimentation, text mining and machine learning to historical research.
Ismael Vaccaro is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the McGill School of Environment at McGill University. In his scholarship and teaching Ismael Vaccaro explores the sociocultural and ecological dynamics of rural-urban interactions – the economic transformations that they foster, their scientific contours, their cultural dimensions, and their political implications at multiple scales. Through in-depth work based on long term studies in the Pyrenees, his research engages in comparative discussions of the politics of nature, providing data on a traditionally unstudied setting: the rural regions of southern Europe. He examines the importance of ethnographic attention to everyday experiences of rural and urban placemaking, situating his research and teaching in the lively and important transdisciplinary debates about global environments across the Global South and North.
This initial analysis of the Pyrenees landscape as an historical palimpsest of deep socioeconomic tensions led his research to address, more generically, the underlying political economy of urban-rural tensions. This analytical orientation guides all subsequent work, which shows repeatedly how studies of urbanization, metropolization, and development cannot work exclusively within the limits of large cities of the Global South. The rural world structures itself, and is structured through, urban processes. His research program has facets, therefore, not only in Southern Europe, but also in Latin America and Africa. Dr. Vaccaro analyzes historical and contemporary public policies, property regime changes, corporate practices, knowledge regimes, local uses of the territory, demographic fluxes, inhabitation patterns, and ecological transformations to demonstrate connections between rural change and urban growth, between social and ecological processes. This work positions him to participate in an interdisciplinary conversation with scholars from political science, geography, ecology, forestry, urban studies, or economics.
His current work spans three in-progress research projects. Each places special emphasis on the analysis of public policies and their effects on local communities and their environments. The projects are as follows:
In the project Patrimonialization processes of nature and culture: local positioning and global articulations a political ecology framework is used to study the role of a postindustrial economy on the politization and commodification of culture and nature (heritage and leisure) The implementation and promotion of conservation policies, ski resorts, traditional foods, and cultural museums, resulted on the redefinition of the local communities and ecology in the Pyrenean range in Spain;
The project Questioning the self-sufficient agrarian peasant indigenous community: money, migration and food dependence in Oaxaca, Mexico attempts to understand the social and ecological consequences of the connection of small mountain Zapotec villages in Oaxaca, Mexico to large transnational flows of people (massive migration to the US), money (remittances sent back to the villages), commodities (cheap produces can be now bought at the community), and ideas (new consumptive trends). Fields abandonment, new market oriented agricultural strategies, diabetes, and forest transition are some of these new trends; and
In the project Creating Hybrid Property Regimes as a Means to Regulate Fisheries in Eastern Africa’s Lakes collective action and property theory, political economy, and ecological methodologies are combined to help redesign the institutions that manage fisheries in the lakes of Uganda and promote sustainable fishing practices. The goal is to identify social, ecological and institutional territorialities to assess the complexity and interdependence of fisheries as a network where people (economy), institutions (policy), and resources (ecology) interact.
These projects are designed to better understand the sociocultural and historical background of contemporary environmental issues and contribute to the comprehension of how policy works and affects social life.
Jessica Van Horssen
Dr van Horssen received her PhD from the University of Western Ontario in 2010. She has held a post-doctoral fellowship at McGill/ Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières from 2010 to 2012, and is also a visiting fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München. Her monograph, to be published in 2013 by the University of British Columbia Press, is a groundbreaking historical study of Asbestos, Quebec. She has taught a range of courses at the undergraduate level at both McGill and Bishop’s University, including environmental history, modern Canada, indigenous studies and public history.
Peter Van Wyck
My academic background is broadly interdisciplinary, with training in environmental and ecological sciences, philosophy, environmental and cultural studies, and communication studies. I teach both undergraduate and graduate courses (MA & PhD) in semiotics, communication theory, visual culture, and special topic seminars including “Reading Freud,” to “North and Nordicity: Theory in a Cold Climate,” “The Arts of Memory,” and “Landscapes of the Local: Rethinking Space and Place,” and Landscapes of the Sign: The Place of the Photographic Image.
At the moment I am developing a new SSHRC-funded project with Dr. Myra Hird of Queen’s University that concerns nuclear waste, the media of apology, justice and the future.
My latest book, released in November 2010, published by McGill Queen’s University Press, is entitled The Highway of the Atom. It was awarded the 2011 Gertrude J. Robinson book award for the best new book in communication studies by the Canadian Communication Association, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Canada Prize in the Social Sciences – The Harold Adams Innis Award of the Canadian Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities. It was recently reviewed in Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 27, 2012.