A specialist in Canadian, West-Coast literature, Ryan Melsom is currently in his fourth year of the PhD program of the English Department. His dissertation primarily deals with the political and social ramifications of apocalyptic tropes in North-American, West-Coast literature. "Because of the West Coast's unique position in both American and Canadian literary traditions, and its situation as a contact zone for numerous Asian, European, and aboriginal cultures, a supposedly single genre in the region such as the apocalyptic actually involves endlessly converging, disrupting, competing, and amplifying historical strands." He is interested, for example, in comparing apocalyptic writing with roots in aboriginal traditions to that rooted in anxieties over Canadian immigration.
While he is studying a combination of both American and Canadian literature, he is primarily interested in Canadian literature, particularly Vancouver authors Wayde Compton, Daphne Marlatt, and Douglas Coupland. "The writers I tend to study represent a shift in Canadian literature towards a more urban, globalized representation of Canada, rather than following along older, nationalist lines," he says. More generally, his work is geared towards an emergent "post-national" vision of Canadian literature.
His choice of research specialty had a lot to do with growing up on the West Coast. Melsom grew up in Kamloops, B.C., and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria.
He is now teaching a Contemporary Canadian Literature course and working under Professors Sylvia Soderlind and Asha Varadharajan in the English and English/Women's Studies departments. He would like to publish his dissertation as a book eventually, and says his "supervisors here have been very aware and helpful regarding this goal."
Melsom had a "welcoming" experience completing his Master's degree at Queen's: "The library resources are excellent, and it is an outstanding graduate community. The Master's program was very rewarding in terms of the intensity and quality of learning, the collegiality among students, and the excellent potential to build supervisory relationships with several of my professors, and for these reasons I decided to return for my PhD."
The "well-recognized" university name and the "many opportunities for political activism and student involvement" were also pivotal in Melsom's decision to complete his PhD studies at Queen's.