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Queen's University

Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies Speaks Winter 2014

Professional Development and Seminar Series

Unless otherwise noted, all seminars take place in Sir John A. Macdonald Hall, Room 2. 2:30 p.m. (see it on the campus map)

All talks are open to the public, so bring your friends! 

January 22 -- Collaboration: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We celebrate collaborative work in Cultural Studies, but it ain't always easy. Come to this panel for accounts of community development work in collaboration with Indigenous youth (Laura Arndt), theatre performance in collaboration with community artists and non-arts partners (Kim Renders), and policy interventions in collaboration with academics in other disciplines and members of the broader public (Laura Murray, Sam Trosow). Bring questions and experiences to share on how, why, and when to play well with others.


Laura Arndt, PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies, Queen's
Kim Renders, faculty, Drama/Cultural Studies, Queen's
Laura Murray, faculty, English/Cultural Studies, Queen's
Sam Trosow, faculty, Law/Information & Media Studies, Western



January 29 -- Projects and Theses: Or, What You Have to Do to Get a Degree Here

This session offers a rumination on the diverse variety of research projects being undertaken within the Cultural Studies programme here at Queen’s. Current doctoral students Erin Sutherland, Lisa Figge, and Karl Hardy will dialogue about their experiences with both project- and dissertation-based research. The panelists will also share their thoughts on the unique challenges that we in CUST face in navigating a very new inter/multi/transdisciplinary programme without a ‘home base’ of faculty (i.e. all CUST-affiliated professors are primarily anchored in other Departments), or many established procedures to guide us along the degree path. Programme Director, Dr. Lynda Jessup, will be present to answer any questions students may have regarding the “nuts and bolts” of degree requirements.  

Erin Sutherland is a second year Ph.D. student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Her research interests include Indigenous curatorial methodologies, Indigenous performance art and the role of contemporary art in the project of Indigenous sovereignty. For her M.A. project and dissertation, Erin curated a performance series with Blackfoot artists Terrance Houle and Adrian Stimson. The series explored the concept of Indigenous masculinity and how it has been influenced by colonialism. Other curatorial projects include “Los Muertos No Hablan: The Dead Don’t Speak” and the upcoming “Memory Keepers: Methodologies of Memory, Mapping and Gender” at Urban Shaman Gallery.

Lisa Figge is an artist/academic in the final year of her dissertation here at Queen’s University, where she is exploring disability as a location for generating new knowledge. Disability Studies, a relatively new discipline, locates its major questions in resistance to the essentialist lens that shrouds disability as an individual medical condition. Disability Studies practitioners are renegotiating this commonplace sentiment by opening a space, like feminist practices, for the turning of individual experience of disability into a legitimate and necessary scholarship. From this opening, Lisa has been shaping an autoethnographic practice for mediating this excess of personal experience, which is founded socially, culturally, and environmentally. Not all of the work is scholarly, though. Lisa is also making puppets and video as alterations to the fabric of her experience, and as part of her attempt at sharing her astonishment at what keeps happening around her.  

Karl Hardy is a PhD Candidate in the Cultural Studies programme working at the intersections of Indigenous studies, settler colonial studies, utopian studies, and mega-nerdy-ness. He is pretty into imaginary reconstitutions of society as a methodology, and his dissertation might be described as "discourse analysis" or (more accurately) as "in progress."  

If you have any questions or comments regarding this seminar session, please contact Robin Alex McDonald at


February 5 -- Working in Cultural Institutions

In this panel discussion, Ann Blake (Managing Director of the Kingston Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites), Kevin Rodgers (Artistic Director of Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre), and Colin Wiginton (Acting Cultural Director for the City of Kingston) reflect on their own career paths in order to draw lessons for Cultural Studies students interested in working in cultural institutions. This informal session will provide an opportunity to talk about possible avenues toward this kind of work, how the skills developed through graduate education can apply in professional contexts, and the prospects for an emerging generation of prospective cultural workers.

Ann Blake currently serves as the Managing Director of the Kingston Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites, a position she has held since 2011.  Ann began her career in museum education and management in 1992, at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, near Ottawa.  From Cumberland, Ann relocated to London, Ontario where she served as Operations Manager with Fanshawe Pioneer Village.  She assumed the position of Executive Director with the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston in 2006, leaving that role for semi-retirement and work as a museum consultant in 2010.

Kevin Rodgers is a visual artist whose practice draws upon provisional formalism and political philosophy. In 2012, Rodgers received his PhD in Art and Visual Culture from Western University--one of the few programs of its kind in Canada. He is also a 2008 graduate of the master of fine arts program at the University of Guelph. Rodgers has shown in several group exhibitions across Canada, the United States and Belgium, including shows at Artspeak (with Derek Sullivan), Vancouver; and the G Gallery, Toronto. His solo exhibitions include goodwater gallery, Toronto; Galerie Tatjana Pieters, Ghent, Belgium; and McIntosh Gallery, London, ON. He has also written for numerous magazines, including FUSE, C Magazine, Border Crossings and ART PAPERS, as well as curated two exhibitions: THE FOX (2011) and IF DESTROYED... (2010). Rodgers was recently awarded a three-month residency at FLACC in Genk, Belgium in 2014.

Colin Wiginton currently works as the Acting Cultural Director for the City of Kingston, one of Canada’s oldest cities.  Since joining the City of Kingston he helped to develop the first-ever Kingston Culture Plan that was unanimously approved by City Council in September 2010.  The approval of the KCP resulted in an increased investment in culture of $2.25 million over four years and has lead to the development of other related projects he is managing, including a Cultural Resource Mapping Plan and an Integrated Cultural Heritage and Cultural Tourism Strategy.  Prior to joining the City of Kingston, Wiginton pursued a 20 year career involving the visual arts and public galleries, most recently at the Art Gallery of Ontario where he participated in the ‘Transformation AGO’ Project that included a re-design of the Gallery by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.


February 12 -- Arts-based Research vs. Research Creation

This panel aims to provide a wide berth of topics related to arts-based research and research-creation. Specific issues addressed by the panelists include: conditions and characteristics of successful research-creation; theoretical/philosophical approaches to the issues of research-creations; potential strategies for this kind of work in the humanities; ethical concerns in conducting arts-based research and research-creation; intellectual property and the rights of the artist.
Panelist bios:

Shawn Newman is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen's University.  His work examines multicultural policies in arts funding, particularly as they are related to concert dance.  His other research interests include Jazz dance history and its cultural legacies in (Afro-)Cuba and West Africa; the dance technique of Lester Horton; education equity and diversity in post-secondary dance programs.  He has performed for some of Canada's most recognized choreographers including Matjash Mrozewski, Heidi Strauss, Peter Randazzo, Michael Trent, and many others.  On working for Darcey Callison, Shawn was noted as "[one] of Toronto's finest dancers" (Paula Citron, Toronto Life).  His performance career has taken him across Canada and throughout Europe.  His own choreography has been presented nationally and, most notably, his first full-length work premiered in Shanghai, China in 2006.  Shawn also teaches part-time at York University in the Department of Dance.
Jeff Barbeau is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies and an occasional photographer. His work is involved with the question of what it is that aesthetics can do in this day and age. He also works in a bookstore downtown. Among the most vital things in his life right now are television, film, and, recently, the relationship between science-fiction and philosophical thinking.

Jan Allen is Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and in Cultural Studies at Queen's University. She holds a BA in History, a BFA, and an MA in Art History, all from Queen's. She joined the Agnes staff in 1992, and since that time has organized over 150 exhibitions, garnering numerous awards, and has published widely. Notable curatorial projects include Better Worlds, an exhibition of activist and utopian projects by artists (2002); Machine Life, interactive and robotic works under the influence of the methods and aesthetics of electronic art pioneer Norman White (2004); Working Culture: Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge (2007-2010); Sorting Daemons: Art, Surveillance Regimes and Social Control (2010) and Annie Pootoogook: Kinngait Compositions (2011). Allen has been active as an advocate for the arts community. She serves on the Arts Advisory Committee of the City of Kingston and its Public Art Working Group, along with the Advocacy Committee of the Kingston Arts Council, the Board of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and the Advisory Committee of the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University, Toronto. Her critical writing has been published in Prefix Photo, C Magazine, Artext, and Poliester.


READING WEEK -- No session

February 26 - Team COBRA: Research in and around Kingston

In Cultural Studies, we affectionately refer to one of our project options with the acronym COBRA, which stands for Community Based Research and Activism. In this session we hear two perspectives on this topic. PhD candidate Amanda Joy (Department of Anthropology, Carleton University) offers a talk entitled “The Academic Activist: Militant Research Practices from the Centre to the Margins,” and Dr. Cynthia Levine-Rasky (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Queen’s) discusses “Ethnography and the Roma: Working the Prepositions as Researcher-Advocate.”

Panelist Bios: 

Amanda Joy is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Carleton University, and has been organizing for social justice since 1999 with groups and networks such as the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and Food Not Bombs. Her activism focuses on economic justice, health, democracy, gender and decolonization. She is an active member of Occupy Ottawa and is also conducting ethnographic research with the Occupy movement, writing about the reworking of democratic practices, the role of social media and prefigurative politics. Her previous academic work examined the transnational movement for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly HIV-positive activism in Southeast Asia. She believes that a better world is possible.


Cynthia Levine-Rasky is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s where she teaches courses on racialization and on qualitative research methods. Having written on whiteness studies for over a decade, Cynthia is the editor of Working through Whiteness: International Perspectives, published by SUNY Press in 2002. Her new book, Whiteness Fractured, published by Ashgate in 2013, explores the connections between whiteness, social class and ethnicity, with Charles Mills’ concept of the 'epistemology of ignorance,' and with the psychoanalytic. Recently, her research interests have turned to the Canadian Roma. An ethnographic study of the Roma’s settlement experiences is in progress for Fernwood Publishing and is tentatively entitled, Writing the Roma. Covering the history of the Roma in Canada, conditions in Europe from which Roma are fleeing and claiming refugee status in Canada, Canadian refugee policy, and community building in Toronto, the book is a critical ethnography presented as a montage of academic narrative, individuals’ profiles, images and other elements set alongside a discussion of ethnic nationalism, diaspora, trauma, and whiteness in relation to the Roma peoples’ complex struggle for political recognition and empowerment.


March 5  - Feathers of Hope: Community Development & Research in Action--Partnership Building with First Nations Youth in Northern Ontario

Community development, youth participation and collaboration within First Nations communities is at heart of this highly-interactive session. Laura Arndt will discuss the work involved in developing partnerships anchored in community building that links historic and cross generational trauma with healing and reconciliation. Uko Abara and Kathryn Morris will walk participants through their work in Ontario and speak to the importance of youth voice in policy and program at the community, provincial, federal and First Nations level. Using videos and action-based activities, this seminar will guide participants through the process of community mobilization and the emergence of youth voice in First Nations issues and community based research.
Presenters: Laura Arndt, Uko Abara, and Kathryn Morris

Kathryn Morris- Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI)– Lakehead University B.A

Uko Abara- Lakehead University- Masters in Public Health

Laura Arndt- Six Nations of the Grand River- PhD Candidate, Queen’s University

Samantha Crowe- Lake Helen First Nation- Confederation College

Julaine Trudeau- Muskrat Dam First Nation

March 12 - Living in the In-Between: Explorations of Identity in New Media


Olivia Mc Gilchrist and Mansoor Behnam in Conversation with Meaghan Frauts


Edouard Glissant asks, “Is an ethnic identity necessary or indispensable to the equilibrium of women and men living in a community? If so, how can a person preserve his or her identity without blindly rejecting the others? Furthermore, can we not imagine a new dimension of identity, open to the truth, or simply the presence of the Other? An identity that would not be the projection of a unique and sectarian root, but of what we call a rhizome, a root with a multiplicity of extensions, in all directions?

This seminar will delve into the personal histories of two experimental filmmakers who use their art to question, re-imagine and confront the multiplicity of positions and identities they embody.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica but growing up in Europe Mc Gilchrist’s character, “Whitey”, allows us to enter into a personal journey of identity politics of someone who appears white but has Jamaican Creole roots-- an identity that is tied to words like “diversity, multiplicity, invisibility and errancy” (Dash: 2003). Joscelyn Gardner further suggests that white male historians have previously refused to “acknowledge white Creole women in the master discourse [which has] meant that [the Creole woman] must likewise seek her own history in the inbetween spaces” (2004). Mc Gilchrist’s work explores what it means to traverse the inbetween spaces—to acknowledge privilege while also paying homage to her Jamaican history.

Similarly, as an immigrant Behnam’s work takes on a personal journey but through the implication of the medieval Muslim concept of Sufi's spiritual journey. As someone cut between two homes/cultures, the idea of “in-betweenness” is pivotal to Behnam’s work too. He relates this diasporic “liminal” and “in-between” subjectivity/identity to what Homi Bhabha calls the "third space" in which elements of different cultures are combined and a new position of "enunciation" emerges. His work intends to conceptualize a practiced-based theory of experimental cinema that addresses this diasporic third space with reference to Sufism and other medieval Muslim concepts such as "absence", "presence" and "being". He has experimented with relevant concepts in four mystical-themed videos and currently is experimenting with the idea of Sufi’s Solook (manner/way) and Third Eye in a mystical documentary feature film titled "Reality Report" using a GoPro camera

This talk is open to the public.

Light refreshments will be provided.


Olivia Mc Gilchrist was born in Kingston, Jamaica to a French mother and a Jamaican father. She grew up in France and was educated in the UK. In 2010 she completed her Master’s in Photography at the London College of Communications and, in 2011, she made a return to Kingston to work at the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) and develop the photography programme at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Her work has been shown in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Grenada, Brazil, the U.S.,  the UK, and she has an upcoming show in Toronto. She has been showcased in ARC Magazine and in 2012 she was the winner of the Jury Prize for the Mutual Gallery Super Plus Under 40 Artist of the Year (Kingston, Jamaica). Most recently she won the New Media Prize at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and was chosen by the NGJ as one of ten emerging artists on the island.

Mansoor Behnam was born in Iran and immigrated to Canada in 2006. He is an experimental filmmaker, writer; and researcher in the fields of Comparative Literature, Film and Cultural Studies. He is currently working on his art/research PhD project in the Cultural Studies program at Queen’s, using tenets of Persian medieval mysticism (Sufism) in order to conceptualize a practice-based theory of “Mystical Experimental Cinema”. His works have been screened and discussed in several venues such as film festivals, universities and artist-run centres.

Meaghan Frauts

is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies. Her dissertation project looks at cultural policy in neoliberal Jamaica and how it affects cultural production and women’s social reproduction in Kingston, JA. 

March 19 -- Hacking Your Graduate Degree for Academic, Post-Academic, and Alternative-Academic Careers


With many universities facing financial difficulties and the reliance on adjuncts ever increasing, the chances of getting a tenure-track academic job get slimmer and slimmer every day. In response, more and more graduate students--by some estimates, between 50 and 80%--are abandoning the expected career path and venturing into non-academic and alternative-academic careers. Sadly, the stigma around pursuing non-tenure track careers has barely diminished, and students are often on their own in figuring out how to navigate the changing waters of higher education. But there's good news: even if you aren't sure yet which path--academic, alt-ac, post-ac--you might choose, you can hack your degree to develop skills and knowledge that will let you move into, and between, multiple fields. Melissa Dalgleish, a PhD student and graduate studies administrator at York University, will talk about how she moved into the world of alt-ac and what you can do to hack your degree. 

Bio: Melissa Dalgleish is the Research Officer in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York University. She is also a PhD candidate in York's Graduate Program in English, and is currently completing a dissertation about Canadian mythopoeic modernist poetry. Her work on Canadian poetics and digital humanities has appeared in various publications, and with Daniel Powell she is the editor of a forthcoming MediaCommons collection on graduate education and the #alt-ac. She loves her alt-ac job.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000