Department of History

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Steven Maynard wins Principal’s Teaching Award

Congratulations to Steven Maynard, who has been chosen as the recipient of the 2016 “Promoting Student Inquiry Teaching Award,” one in a series of teaching and learning prizes presented annually by Principal Woolf. Selected by a committee made up of the Vice-Provost/University Librarian, a faculty member, a librarian, an undergraduate and graduate student, and a member of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the prize recognizes “innovative instructional design which enables active student engagement in learning.” Steven was nominated on the basis of the archival-based research projects he develops for students in his courses. The prize, which comes with $2,000 for instructional design and future student projects, will be presented by the Principal at a ceremony in January 2017. We asked Steven to give us a sense of the types of projects he gets his students to do, and here’s what he reports:

This past winter term, in my senior seminar on “Foucault for Historians,” students did research in the historical newsletters of Kingston-area prisons and penitentiaries housed in the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections at Douglas Library. Taking as their inspiration the bulletins produced by Foucault’s Groupe d’information sur les prisons, an activist group from the early 1970s which attempted to give French prisoners a voice, students immersed themselves in the local newsletters from the 1950s-70s to explore the project’s question, “Can the Incarcerated Speak?” Students’ research dovetailed nicely with the Special Collections exhibit “Prison Sentences: Penitentiary Literature in Kingston.”

In the previous year, in my lecture course on “The History of Sexuality in Canada,” in the context of widespread concern over sexual assault on Canadian university campuses, students set out to uncover the history of the University’s past efforts to address the issue. As the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Working Group devised the University’s first-ever policy, students delved into the historical records at Queen’s University Archives to ascertain whether this was the first time the University had grappled with the issue of sexual violence. It wasn’t, of course, and students discovered that women’s groups and students had been raising the issue since at least the early 1970s, spurred on by second-wave feminism, and that administrators had produced a number of significant initiatives over the previous decades. This allowed students to probe the dynamics of institutional forgetting – something we are now revisiting in relation to racism and the University’s past reports on race and diversity – and to think about how historical research can be mobilized to make meaningful interventions in the social-political issues of the present. – Steven Maynard