By Christine Elie
Sharday Mosurinjohn is a graduate of the first cohort of the Cultural Studies Master’s program at Queen’s. She is now in the midst of the Doctoral program. The program offered her the latitude to pursue her precise work in an interdisciplinary and academic setting: “I began wanting to bring my own visual art practice back into my scholarly work. I knew that Cultural Studies’ unique project option would allow me to do that.”
Her work explores the concept of interior life: “I am approaching questions about inner experience, the mechanisms of consciousness and other considerations around reflexivity and self-awareness. I recently completed some really exciting work that unites research on the ontology of time with research in cultural neurophenomenology in order to explore what scholars call ‘the presence of experience’ from both analytic and cultural angles.” In a truly interdisciplinary fashion, she is also currently examining literature that spans social sciences and hard sciences to explore the interface of language, materialism, and culture.
As an artist, Sharday benefits from the project option that Cultural Studies offers. She is able to write about art as well as make and write about her own art. She lauds this aspect of the program saying: “I’m also engaging in these creative practices myself as a way to bridge the productivity gap between two roles, those of the artist and theorist and critic, which have traditionally remained distinct.”
Sharday came to Queen’s after completing her undergraduate degree in Sociocultural Anthropology, Museology, and an interdisciplinary module called Scholar’s Electives at Western University in London, Ontario. She was debating between a few different approaches to her Master’s work and was offered a placed in several programs, including Religious Studies and Anthropology, at different schools. What made Queen’s the victor was the interdisciplinarity and flexibility of cultural studies. Of her decision to come to Queen’s, Sharday says: “In the end, I chose the program that I thought would give me the broadest opportunities… There are other Cultural Studies programs across Canada, but I was part of the first cohort in the Queen’s program.” This, according to Sharday helped foster a close relationship between the members of her class.
Sharday is very involved in the Queen’s community. She aspires to get the most she possibly can out of her time at Queen’s: “I hope to make the most of all the resources that I have available to me here. I want to expose myself to as much knowledge and as many ways of knowing as I possibly can.” One of her largest motivating factors academically stems from the fact that the program is relatively new. She states “I’m invested in this program. I want to make the core faculty who fought for its existence proud.”
In addition to her academic work, Sharday is a writer for Graduate Studies. This offers her the opportunity to be exposed to an array of scholarship from many different departments. This experience allows her to see “how successful students have wound their way to where they are now. It is a great way to consider new possibilities for myself in my professional development.” Additionally, Sharday has written for Bitch Magazineand is currently blogging for the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).
Her SGS blog, Gradifying,offers an informal snapshot of the Queen’s graduate student experience. It aims to respond to the needs common to grad students and to foster a greater sense of graduate community. “We talk about getting to know Kingston, finding balance in your lifestyle, how to stay connected to social happenings, and what’s out there in terms of academic, professional, and cultural opportunities.”
While Sharday intends to work in academia after her graduation, she is open to a number of potential career paths. “My ideal career move after finishing my PhD at Queen’s would be to join a social sciences or humanities department as a professor, which would allow me to continue contributing through original research as well as by engaging with students in the classroom. As an interdisciplinary scholar with training, research, and teaching experience in Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Gender Studies, Religious Studies, and Philosophy, I look forward to finding a great fit with a department that values and promotes innovative research that incorporates concepts and methodologies from these diverse areas.” She only really has one central requirement: to learn and create.