School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Jennifer Hardwick

PhD - English (scheduled)
Bader Post-doctoral Fellowship - LLCU

Jennifer Hardwick


Story as a Form of Resistance

by Karl Hardy, ​June 2015

The opportunities of graduate studies are not limited to research, but also offer the ability to make a real difference in the life of Queen’s University community and the wider world. For her part, Jennifer Hardwick is inspired by the ways that individuals, communities and nations have used stories to resist injustice and promote resurgence and renewal.

Ms. Hardwick, a PhD candidate in the Department of English, is scheduled to defend her dissertation “Emerging Voices: Reading Canadian Youth Online,” which addresses the creative work of Indigenous youth, homeless youth, and young survivors of gender-based violence. During the course of her research, she collaborated with Directions Youth Services and Another Slice, organizations serving homeless youth in downtown Eastside of Vancouver. There youth find a creative outlet through poetry, fiction, life writing, photography, music, and video. Ms. Hardwick’s community-based and multi-modal research efforts have demonstrated new possibilities for her discipline.

“There’s a conception that English is just about reading books, but it can also be about working with communities and acknowledging stories that have been marginalized and silenced,” she says with a smile. “You can do an English PhD and do this work!”

Ms. Hardwick’s doctoral studies have been supervised by Dr. Sam McKegney, Chair of Graduate Studies for the Department of English, whose research is similarly rooted in communities of resistance. She credits Dr. McKegney’s mentorship as being central to her own growth as a scholar and community activist, emphasizing that “it’s essential to find supervisors and mentors who acknowledge the importance of community engagement and who can model it.”

Ms. Hardwick’s community-based work includes her significant contributions to Indigenous Studies at Queen's; under the guidance of the Aboriginal Council and Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, and in partnership with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff and faculty, Ms. Hardwick has played a key role in the creation of both the Indigenous Studies Minor Degree program and the Kahswentha Indigenous Knowledge Initiative (KIKI). KIKI is named after the Two Row Wampum Treaty between the Haudenosaunee peoples and settlers, and works with campus and community groups to plan events which promote and celebrate Indigenous knowledges. “It’s been the teach-ins, performances, and roundtables that have been the best learning opportunities; I've had the good fortune to learn from tremendous scholars, knowledge keepers and community members at and beyond Queen's.”

The combination of research excellence and dedication to community has been recognized as she has been awarded one of the inaugural Bader Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities through the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (LLCU) here at Queen’s University. During her Postdoctoral Fellowship, Ms. Hardwick plans to build on her doctoral work towards further research into Indigenous digital culture and spaces of reconciliation, engaging Indigenous activists, intellectuals, artists who are employing storytelling, oral tradition, Indigenous histories to strengthen the resurgence of Indigenous communities but also to address settler constituencies. Her Postdoctoral Fellowship will be supervised by Dr. Daniel Chamberlain, of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and Ms. Hardwick looks forward to drawing on his extensive knowledge of oral culture.

However, before taking up the Bader Postdoctoral Fellowship in July, Ms. Hardwick will be very busy as a Visiting Fellow in Digital Culture at the Digital Humanities Field School at the Bader International Centre before returning to Kingston for the oral defense of her dissertation in late June. Not only will the two year Bader Postdoctoral Fellowship afford her the opportunity to pursue academic research and publishing, but she will also continue her work here at Queen’s University in support of the Indigenous Studies Degree Program through curricular and pedagogical development.

“I’m excited to be a part of a growing community of scholars here at Queen’s focused on making scholarship accountable and accessible to Indigenous communities,” she says, noting that the Indigenous Studies Minor is located within LLCU, allowing her own trajectory to come full-circle. “I’m happy to be part of such an important movement that’s receiving more and more appreciation and attention across campus.”

Certainly, the Queen’s University community also has real cause to be delighted at continuing to be the beneficiaries of Ms. Hardwick’s dedication to building community and serving social justice.