Responding to politics with poetry

Casey Lawrence, an MA student in English, has recently published an anthology of poetry in response to American politics. Work by Andrew Power, a fourth year English major, is included in the volume.

Casey Lawrence is using the power of words to make the world a better place.

Lawrence, who has just completed her English BA and is embarking on an MA, has just released a co-edited anthology of poetry and short prose title “11/9: The Fall of American Democracy” to highlight marginalized voices affected by American politics.

Lawrence believes that poetry’s power to validate people’s feelings and make connections has an important place in the current political climate.

“We’re using poetry to create awareness and connection but also to do tangible good in the world with our words,” adds Lawrence. “Poetry is political; It has always been about dissent and resistance.”

Although Lawrence has published several young adult novels, this was her first time working on an anthology. It was more difficult than expected, she says, but very rewarding to see people’ positive response to both the texts and the cause they’re donating.

Lawrence worked with her co-editor William D. Dickerson to sift through hundreds of submissions after putting out a call for submissions online and through her author network.

The volume features 57 international authors and prioritizes those most affected by the results of the 2017 American election. Both amateur and established poets are included.

Fourth-year Brock English student Andrew Power is one of the few Canadian poets featured in the new volume.

His erasure poem is written by blacking out words from a page of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” He chose “Paradise Lost” as a starting point because of its theme of the pursuit of ambition.

Power wants readers to see that people have been looking at phenomena like this for hundreds of years.

“Literature always been addressing political subjects,” he explains. “The topics aren’t that uncommon, but cyclical.”

The project is completely non-profit and all proceeds are being donated to charity. Lawrence and Dickerson have published the work through’s Create Space, and all proceeds will be donated to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which supports survivors of sexual violence, and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

“11/9: The Fall of American Democracy” is available as both a paperback and ebook through or its Facebook page. You can connect with Casey Lawrence on Facebook as well.

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Visiting Fulbright scholar immersed in history of local black community

Visiting Fulbright scholar Professor Daniel Broyld will be teaching CANA3V91 on abolitionist movements in the US and Canada this fall. Students will be using the library's special collections and archives to examine early photographs and tin types of members of St. Catharines' black community.

For visiting Fulbright Scholar Daniel Broyld, living and working in St. Catharines adds another layer to his research on black identity and migration along the Canadian-American border.

“It’s very important for me to actually inhabit this space,” he says of his time in Niagara, where he’ll be working at Brock until December. “Although I look at black communities in the 19th century, it’s nice to still familiarize myself with the landscape and community they would have lived in. To actually live here is another part of understanding.”

Broyld’s semester at Brock, which began in July, will also give him an opportunity to share his expertise with students and to work on his upcoming book. Borderland Blacks focuses on the transnational exchange of immigration and interaction between the Rochester New York and St. Catharines black communities.

Broyld has already found fresh research material in the St. Catharines Public Library collection and is making use of Brock’s Rick Bell collection of photographs from the 1860s and 1870s.

“It’s nice to be able to spend some real time and not rush through it, but to feel like I can settle into understanding the black history of St. Catharines,” he says.

An assistant professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, Broyld is an expert on Harriet Tubman and has consulted on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland.

His time at Brock was made possible through one of about 8,000 grants awarded each year through the Fulbright Program — an American scholarship program that enables American scholars to research and teach abroad, and international scholars to study in the United States.

Broyld is interested in the experience of black women, such as Tubman, coming to Canada during the Victorian era.

“There’s a deeper analysis of Tubman that goes beyond just the racial component of her being in Canada,” he says. “Black women running to Canada was more than an analysis of racial liberation. I think they thought, too, that this was the queen’s soil … What can the queen offer them personally?”

While at Brock, Broyld will be teaching Canadian Studies course CANA3V91 Abolitionist Movements in Canada and the United States, focusing on the transnational nature of the abolitionist movement.

“The abolitionist movement is a precursor to the civil rights movement,” Broyld explains. “There are different schools of thought, different philosophies and different approaches to how to rid yourself of the institution of slavery.”

The course is not just about American slavery, but about understanding Canadian slavery and how newly freed people were incorporated into society. “We’re weaving the two nations together to tell a cohesive story,” Broyld says.

As part of the course, students will be using the Archives and Special Collections of Brock’s James A. Gibson Library as well as material at the St. Catharines Public Library. Students will use 19th century photographs and tin types — images on thin pieces of metal — to learn how material culture can provide a deeper understanding of lived experience.

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Student Spotlight: Working at Rodman Hall opens doors for recent grad Fraser Brown

We’ve returned from our summer hiatus with a new line up of blog posts! We’re excited to share the Brock Humanities experience with you as we get ready for a new academic year.

To start things off, we would like to introduce you to Fraser Brown. Fraser has just finished a honours degree in studio art in the Visual Arts department. He will be going on to complete a co-op in office administration at Fanshaw College this fall in preparation for a career in arts administration. His experience as an intern at Rodman Hall Art Centre this summer has been instrumental in finding his career path.

Fraser Brown has been enjoying his work as a summer intern at Rodman Hall Art Centre. Photo by Danny Custodio.

My first visit to Rodman Hall Art Centre took place in 2014 as part of a class project. I was struck by Melanie Authier’s Grisaille, an exhibition curated by Marcie Bronson, but what set Rodman Hall apart from any other gallery was the historic building and grounds.

At the time I had no idea the importance Rodman Hall would play in my education and future career plan but after completing an honours thesis in the building’s third floor studios, exhibiting in the gallery space, attending numerous HOT TALKS they host, and interning for the summer to provide audience engagement and administrative assistance, Rodman Hall Art Centre has proven itself as the highlight of my experience at Brock University.

Rodman Hall Art Centre is situated in downtown St. Catharines. Photo by Fraser Brown.

Rodman Hall’s third floor consists of six studios dedicated to students in the VISA 4F06 Honours course. Working under the guidance of curator Marcie Bronson and former curator Stuart Reid, along with instructors Shawn Serfas and Donna Szoke, I was able to create a body of work focusing on issues I feel passionate about while receiving guidance from professionals. I was encouraged to explore different mediums, approaches, and concepts which refined the ideas I brought to the course and establish an argument for why my practice is relevant to the contemporary art world.

Interning at Rodman Hall has been a reward this summer. Deciding to pursue fine art as a career requires a second one to support it, and working under the mentorship of Rodman Hall’s Administrative Assistant Danny Custodio and Arts Educator Michelle Nichols has helped me discover my career goal: administrative director of an art gallery.

Fraser's work has included researching artists and giving tours of the art exhibited at Rodman Hall. Pictured here is John Noestheden's "Artefact Echoes" (2015). Photo by Kylie Mitchell.

Next year I begin an office-administration co-op program, with the goal to enter a post-grad course in arts administration and cultural management after. Rodman Hall’s staff has been incredibly supportive in this, providing me with copies of workshop documents to aid my professional development and making introductions to key players in the cultural sector.

Many students and locals aren’t aware of the hidden gem just over Burgoyne Bridge from downtown St. Catharines, but Rodman Hall Art Centre has a renowned reputation in the Canadian & North American Art Community. On top of that, it’s the leading contemporary art gallery for the Niagara Region, and now having worked with its staff I can see why. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to join them for the summer and to return something to a community that was always welcoming.

My internship has allowed me to utilize skills I built in coursework at Brock and bring them into a real world context. I performed research on the artists in Rodman Hall’s exhibition “Afterimage” and the history of the building. I then compiled information into a presentation and gave tours on a weekly basis. Research and presenting are fundamental skills you develop at Brock, and after working here I have learned the importance of the skills you build throughout a university career, not just the knowledge you gain.

Rodman Hall Art Centre has an extensive collection of outdoor sculpture. Here, Fraser leads a group of children in a discussion of Reinhard Reitzenstein's "Carolina Blue" (2017). Photo by Kristen Neudorf.

I would like to say thank you to Danny, Michelle, Marcie, Matt, Emma, Kylie, Ashley, Angelina, Julia, Kristen, Shauna, Tom, Stan, Lauren, Cecilia and all of the familiar faces in the Rodman Hall community who made working there the pinnacle of my time at Brock University!

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Brock Odyssey 2017: From Delphi to Olympia

The Department of Classics takes selected students on a study tour or archaeological excavation each summer. These trips allow students to experience the art and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world in an entirely new way.

This year, Professor Allison Glazebrook and the CLAS/VISA3M23 students are on a study tour of Greece from June 5-18th. During this time, students will be blogging about their experience on the course blog and sharing picture on our faculty’s Instagram and Facebook. Follow along on social media with their hashtag, #brockodyssey2017!

We will be sharing a few of their blog posts with you here. Today’s post is by Sarah Murray, a third year Classics student in the archaeology stream.

To learn more about the Department of Classics’ study tours, visit their information page.

The road from Delphi to Olympia descends from Mount Parnassus at an elevation of 1,800 feet to the Gulf of Corinth at sea level. It is a thrill ride of switchbacks on narrow mountain roads, that takes you from the Ancient Greeks’ most important sanctuary at Delphi, to the fertile farmland around Olympia.

The route passes through country that is harsh and rugged, but filled with pink and white rhododendrons and wildflowers that support the bees from the numerous apiaries located on the mountainsides. From the bus you see the houses pass in flashes of white stucco and red terracotta roofs, white-walled cemeteries full of tall white crosses, beside little white churches and the  frequent small and brightly painted roadside shrines. Many of the rounded mountains are topped with windmills and houses wear solar panels on their roofs-a reminder of the modern world-in a landscape where you can see the remains of abandoned farms hiding in the tall yellow grass. The old and the new exist side by side here in Greece-the past runs into a present in a state that must struggle to meet the needs of its living citizens while preserving the legacy its ancestors.

Incredible engineering of the Rio-Antirrio bridge. Photo by Stephanie Semenuk.

One image of modernity is the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge  (the longest fully suspended cable type bridge in the world) that spans the Gulf of Corinth and connects mainland Greece to the Peloponnese. You can see the length of it gleaming white in the distance as you reach the coastal plain. The cables that suspend the bridge arch gracefully towards the sky giving the structure an appearance of lightness that belays the reality of the supporting piles that anchor it to the sea bed sixty-five feet below the surface of the treacherous strait. It is a blend of technical mastery over the elements and yet still a thing of beauty-so very Greek.

The bridge takes you to the Peloponnese where the land is lush and fertile, for there is water here to nourish the growth of the vegetables and vines that grow in abundance, and the olive trees of course. Tall green cedars rise above everything as they soar towards the sky like dark spears against the backdrop of blue.  This landscape is such a contrast to the rugged power of the sanctuary in the mountains, but both scenes have their own particular beauty.

Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. Photo by Sarah Murray.

This is the landscape of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, an ancient site where athletes worshipped the god in athletic competitions that drew participants from all over the ancient world. The ancient Olympics began here in 776 B.C.E. and like the modern games were held every four years. Before the games started word would go out in all directions to inform the various city states that the games would be held soon, so that hostilities would cease and the games would be peaceful. The tradition was ended at the end of the fourth century C.E. but the modern Olympics are based on those long ago athletic events.

At Olympia the ruins of the Temples of Hera and of Zeus, state treasuries and monuments such as the Philippeion sit along paths that are shaded by large trees. Under some of the trees there are architectural fragments from the site that provide a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the breeze. The foundations of the Temple of Zeus hint at the grandeur of the temple that once stood here, but only one lonely column stands among the tumbled ruins that have succumbed to floods, earthquakes and the passing years.

Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Photo by Sarah Murray.

The museum displays the wealth of the archaeological finds from the site, from the votives left by worshippers, armour and weaponry dedicated to Zeus and moulds used in the workshop of Pheidias who created the enormous statue of the god that resided in the Temple of Zeus. The museum also displays the magnificent sculptures from the temple pediments that have to be seen in order to appreciate their scale and the mastery of the sculptors.

Students take on the original Olympic foot race, the stade, at Olympia. Photo by Sarah Murray.

The truly adventurous can enter the ancient stadium through the same gateway that the ancient athletes and umpires used, stand behind the balbis (the starting line) and race against their friends to the finish line about 200 yards away. If you do run, you can say that you raced at Olympia and be proud of that feat, after all the only people who know that you finished last were the friends who cheered you all the way to the finish line.

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Brock Odyssey 2017: Experiencing mountains and temples

The Department of Classics takes selected students on a study tour or archaeological excavation each summer. These trips allow students to experience the art and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world in an entirely new way.

This year, Professor Allison Glazebrook and the CLAS/VISA3M23 students are on a study tour of Greece from June 5-18th. During this time, students will be blogging about their experience on the course blog and sharing picture on our faculty’s Instagram and Facebook. Follow along on social media with their hashtag, #brockodyssey2017!

We will be sharing a few of their blog posts with you here. Today’s post is by Adelina Misasi, a history major heading into her fourth year of studies.

To learn more about the Department of Classics’ study tours, visit their information page.

We started June 11 in the Neda hotel in Olympia. We packed up and headed out to the bus to take a trip to the temple of Apollo  at Bassae. The trip was a two hour long bus ride which allowed some of us to enjoy the scenery where we saw more mountain ranges, goats and other types of nature that we did not see in places such as Athens. It also allowed some of us to catch up on sleep.

Driving through the mountains was a very different and over whelming experience. To be on a very small road on the side of a mountain did not feel all too safe; however, our bus driver Panos was fantastic getting us to the temple. The views we were able to witness from driving along the mountains were incredible.

Student Will Durward took this photo of Greek mountains from the top of Mount Lykaion.

Once we had arrived, the temple  was explained by Dr. Glazebrook and Teagan. It is one of the only temples that is still standing with most of its original limestone and marble.  Dr. Glazebrook had mentioned that it is the first world heritage site designation in Greece because of how well preserved the temple is.

We learned that the temple has been covered by a protective tent and any reconstruction the temple has gone through it is primarily to preserve the existing architecture. They had done this through beams and other scaffolds in order to keep the temple from shifting or breaking any further.  The temple was very overwhelming to see because this was the first temple we have seen mostly in tact and that did not have large pieces of new marble fixing the temple to show visitors its original form.

While at the temple we encountered very interesting background music that made me feel a little uncomfortable because it made the ambiance of the temple very creepy. While looking at the temple I thought one very interesting feature was the use of all three orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) throughout the temple.

After the temple we were back on the bus and drove a few more hours to the site of Messene.

The site of Messene was a very interesting site to visit because it was one of the first sites that was very interactive.  While walking through the site there were a few areas that I found extremely interesting.

First off, the bath house that was located in the Agora of Messene still had most of its heat stones intact.

Next at the site of Messene another aspect that I found very interesting to see was the stadium.

Walking through the stadium was overwhelming because of how large the stadium is  and how intact the seats and stadium are.  Sitting in the stadium I felt that I truly was a part of history watching games and athletes show their strengths.

Later on in the day after the site at Messene we went to the location of the gates at Messene, where we had Mike present on the gates and he explained how the gates were used as a well made fortification and had many different watch towers. Today when going to the site most of the gate is no longer intact, but what is still standing is a sight to see.

Overall it was really interesting to see both the temple of Apollo and the site of Messene.

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Brock Odyssey 2017: Learning history where it happened

The Department of Classics takes selected students on a study tour or archaeological excavation each summer. These trips allow students to experience the art and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world in an entirely  new way.

This year, Professor Allison Glazebrook and the CLAS/VISA3M23 students are on a study tour of Greece from June 5-18th. During this time, students will be blogging about their experience on the course blog and sharing picture on our faculty’s Instagram and Facebook. Follow along on social media with their hashtag, #brockodyssey2017!

We will be sharing a few of their blog posts with you here. Today’s post is by Sabrina Peixoto, who is heading into her third year of History and Concurrent Education.

To learn more about the Department of Classics’ study tours, visit their information page.

The final members of our group arrived in Athens Monday, June 5, around nine thirty in the morning. Once we got to the hotel we dropped our bags and headed up to the rooftop restaurant, hearing that it had an incredible view of the city (fig. 1).

Figure One - View of city from roof of Astor Hotel

Figure One - View of city from roof of Astor Hotel

We were given about an hour to grab some lunch or take a quick nap if we needed to before we started our day. A handful of us walked around finding a little cafe where we enjoyed pizza and paninis. We had a hard time at first trying to place our orders since the lady we were speaking to did not speak any English and had to get one of the other workers to translate our orders for us.

Regrouping around noon we then walked over to the Kerameikos, along the way I was overwhelmed trying to take in everything we were seeing as we walked through the streets. Along the way we did see the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea (fig. 2), which was built in the eleventh century. I was very interested to get a look at the mosaic with a depiction of the Madonna and a child on the south side of the church.

Figure Two - Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

Figure Two - Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

Personally seeing the Kerameikos (fig. 3) was an unreal experience for me, based off the fact that it was the first time I have ever physically seen a site like that before. A fascinating thing was seeing the difference in ground level of the site compared to street level, showing us how far they had to dig down, knowing they had to destroy what was above it to get to those ruins. Another couple of things we saw that caught my interest were seeing the oldest of the walls amongst the ruins and hearing Professor Glazebrook’s explanation on how they had to rush in the building process in order to fend off the Persians. The site of the Kerameikos is thought to be where Pericles delivered his funeral speech to honour those who had lost their lives in the war.

Figure Three - The Kerameikos

Figure Three - The Kerameikos

We got a chance to go inside the Kerameikos Museum and get a look at some of the objects found on the site. I appreciated the layout of the museum, specifically the center piece of the marble bull in the middle of the museum under the skylight.

Next we walked up to the Pnyx, an ancient meeting place, where we had a great view of the city and the Acropolis, it was a great opportunity to take lots of pictures. After walking a bit more around the city we ended up at the restaurant where we would be having our welcome dinner (fig. 4).

Figure Four - Enjoying the welcome dinner

Figure Four - Enjoying the welcome dinner

The staff at the restaurant were super friendly, the service was fantastic, and so was the food! They kept bringing out different appetizers, such as greek salad, calamari, tomato balls, so many that most of us were almost completely full by the time the main course came out. They made us a wonderful lamb dish with french fries and tzatziki sauce. It was a perfect opportunity for all us to get to know each other better as well as enjoy some delicious Greek food.

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Brock alumni, faculty, and staff recognized for contributions to the St. Catharines arts community

The Bacchae, a Twitches & Itches Theatre production, was on stage at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in January 2017. (Photo by David Vivian)

Brock’s alumni continue to contribute to St. Catharine’s art scene long after graduation and this year a number of them are being recognized by the community with nominations for the St. Catharines Arts Awards.

Two individual alumnae and one group of alumni have been nominated for St. Catharines Arts Awards—Emerging Artist 2017. Visual artist Lauren Regier (BA ’14), costume designer Jo Pacinda (BA ‘13) and the Twitches & Itches Theatre group have all been nominated for their contributions to St. Catharines’ art scene.

Lauren Regier (BA '14) working in her studio. (Photo by Lauren Regier)

Lauren Regier (BA ’14), a graduate from Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, explores the relationship between nature and machines through her photography, video, performance, and installation art.

Regier used an artist residency position in British Columbia in 2016 to explore the functional and survival properties of plants for her BioArt series of work. Regier combines plants with industrial products to create strange prototypes, which she then photographs in black and white and hand-tints with watercolours.

Participating in the local arts community is important for Regier.

“Some of the best people and institutions in St. Catharines have positioned themselves to be generously receptive of new ideas, artwork and dialogue,” says Regier.

“When it comes to contributing to the arts community post-graduation, it’s our willingness to attend talks and show by people we don’t know, or to introduce and guide newcomers that truly makes on an accessible and valued member of the cultural community.”

Regier showed art from her Fantasy Fleur series at Malcolm Gear Studio in Welland earlier this year, which was featured on the blog.

Most recently, her work was part of the Brock University and State University of New York at Buffalo collaboration “Post-Industrial Ephemera: Sounds, Gestures, and Poetics” at Silo City,

Twitches & Itches Theatre is a multi-disciplinary artist ensemble committed to developing local acting talent. Eight of the group’s nine core performers trained at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

The group was founded in 2009 by Colin Bruce Anthes (BA ’14, MA ’16) and Tom DiMartino, and moved
to St. Catharines in 2013. They hope to show emerging actors that they don’t need to leave the region to pursue their craft.

The ensemble has done six full productions; their first independent production “The Bacchae” was performed at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in January. They have also participated in community events, Culture Days, and charity fundraisers.

The group includes alumni Hayley Malouin (BA ’15), Sean Rintoul (BA ’15), Kaitlin Race (BA ’13), Sean Aileen McClelland (BA ’16), and Marcus Tuttle (BA ’15).

Staying in Niagara has always been important to nominee Jo Pacinda (BA ’13) . Pacinda is a Brock theatre graduate and aspiring costumer who works with a number of theatre companies in Niagara. Her recent work includes company costumer and design assistant for Essential Collective Theatre and wardrobe assistant for Theatre Project, Foster Festival, and Twitches & Itches.

“I’ve always wanted to start and build my theatre career in Niagara and this nomination means I’m headed on the right path with that,” says Pacinda.

Pacinda credits her Brock experience with helping her give back to the community.

“Brock holds a great place within the local arts community and the overall support the school has for its current student, alumni, as well as staff, is really fantastic. It’s with all this support that alumni are able to contribute and build St. Catharines’ art scene.”

The recognition of these Brock alumni is an honour for the students, alumni, faculty, and staff of the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says Director David Vivian.

“If our graduates can bring their hearts and minds to make St. Catharines and the region a better place, whether because of their professional work in costuming or by making innovative and provocative art that asks us the tough questions we face and that encourage us to generate imaginative insight leading to change and sustainability, then the faculty and staff at the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts have successfully done the work the community is entrusting us to do,” Vivian says.

It’s not only alumni contributing to St. Catharines’ arts community; a number of current Brock staff and faculty have also been recognized with nominations.

Gordon Cleland, a professor with Brock’s Department of Music and principle cellist with the Niagara Symphony, has been nominated for his work in the music community. Cleland is an instructor with Suzuki Niagara and with the Niagara Youth Orchestra. He has also been a featured performer across North America.

Danielle Wilson, a Brock dramatic arts professor, has also been nominated. Wilson has worked across Canada as an actor, director, and voice and acting teacher. She is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of Stolen Theatre Collective. The collective was founded in 2007 and is committed to the creation of original material and experimentation with different theatrical styles.

Gregory Betts, a poet and professor with the Department of English Language and Literature, is a tireless advocate for literature in St. Catharines. He is the artistic director and founder of the Festival of Readers. The festival is an annual event held each fall and designed to build a literary culture in the Niagara region.

Marcie Bronson, acting director and curator at Rodman Hall Art Centre, has been nominated for her central role in the transformation of Rodman Hall into a nationally recognized institution of excellence that supports local artists.

Rodman Hall Art Centre has also been nominated in the Arts in Education category.

The Arts Awards were first presented in 2005 to celebrate St. Catharines’ artists and supporters and to cultivate support for the arts sector. Awards are given out in five categories: Arts in Education, Emerging Artist, Established Artist, Making a Difference, and Patron of the Arts.

This year’s recipients will be announced at an evening of performances and celebration on Monday, June 5, at First Ontario Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are available from the performing arts centre box office 1-855-515-0722.

An earlier version of this post appeared in Brock News.

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Nouveau Reach: Brock professors bringing luxury studies to Canada

What is luxury and why do we value it?

Depending where you are in the world, luxury can mean many things to many people.

Critical luxury is an emerging field of study in Europe that examines the relations between historical and contemporary ideas of luxury. Now, two Brock University professors are helping to bring it to Canada.

History Professor Jessica Clark and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Professor Nigel Lezama are co-organizers of the Nouveau Reach: Past, Present and Future of Luxury conference being held this week at Ryerson University.

The conference has brought together more than 30 scholars and industry professionals from around the world to examine the idea of what we consider luxury and why. They’re discussing the rapidly evolving global luxury market and how it impacts Canada.

“I think that we all live with an idea of what luxury is,” says Lezama. “It ranges from a bit of fancy chocolate to an expensive indulgence to time spent with close friends.”

“Critical luxury studies gives us a large box of tools to analyse the things and experiences that we consider luxuries. It allows us to determine where value lies, whether it’s in the thing or experience itself, or whether it’s imposed by systems like capitalism, or an internal system like psychology.”

The critical luxury field crosses a range of disciplines.

“Whether you look at language and signifiers, as Nigel does, or history, as I do, by relating our research back to the theme of ‘luxury,’ we can have dynamic conversations across disciplines,” Clark says.

Participants in the conference include anthropologists, historians, philosophers, media studies experts, fashion scholars, designers, businesspeople and others.

The field of critical luxury studies is a new one. In the past two years, a book by authors Joanne Roberts and John Armitage on the subject, Critical Luxury Studies: Art, Design, and Media was published and the Victorian and Albert Museum mounted an exhibit curated by Jana Scholze called “What is Luxury?”

Last May, the two Brock professors represented the University at a conference in New York, which connected them with other groups of scholars in this emerging field.

Much of the research in the critical luxury field is based in the United Kingdom, but the conference in Toronto this week is a way to bring the conversation to Canada and involve scholars from this country.

“Seeing the international interest in luxury as a field of study first-hand made us wonder what luxury looks like in Canada,” says Lezama. “We realized Canadian scholars and makers had a lot to say on this issue, and we wanted to bring them together, along with the international community of critical luxury scholars.”

The discussion won’t end when the conference is over, says Lezama, as they will be creating the Canadian Luxury Consortium, a group of scholars and industry players invested in continuing the conversation.

The four-day Nouveau Reach conference is organized by Clark and Lezama along with Alison Matthews David, Robert Ott and Dylan Kwacz from Ryerson University. Scholze, Roberts and Armitage will also be in attendance.

Studies in Comparative Literatures and Arts MA student Hayley Rose Malouin​ has helped professors Clark and Lezama. Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD​ candidate Julia Polyck O’Neill will be presenting on “Vancouver’s Monuments and Counter-Monuments to Capital: The Public Artworks of Douglas Coupland and Ken Lum.”

The conference is sponsored in part by Brock’s Humanities Research Institute.

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French student Alex Finlayson wins prestigious national award

Alex Finlayson, a third year Brock student in French Studies and Concurrent Education, was recently awarded the very prestigious 2016-17 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Endowment Fund for Study in a Second Official Language.

Given to only three students from across Canada each year, the award comprises a $7,000 bursary and letter of congratulations and is designed to support second or third year university students studying French or English as a second language.

Receiving the award is an enormous achievement. The rigorous application process includes an essay, documentation of community involvement, plan of study, nomination form, and reference letters. While the award is open to students from any discipline, each university can only put forward one candidate.

We asked Alex about her experience studying French.

What inspired you to study French?
I was offered the chance to join a mid-french immersion program in grade 4 and was very excited about the idea of being able to speak another language.  Nobody else in my family spoke french at the time, so I thought it would be neat to be the only one!

Studying a second language can be intimidating. In your experience, what are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of studying French?
I find that it can definitely be scary to speak French with people for the first time because it’s a little more challenging to improvise in French than in English.  However, it can also feel extremely rewarding to converse with someone in French, particularly when considering all the work that has been put into learning the language.

Has anything surprised you about studying French?
I took another language course in my first year at Brock (Italian) and was surprised at just how easily I was able to pick it up!  Although Italian comes with an entirely new vocabulary, the majority of grammar rules and verb conjugations are very similar to French, which really helped me with the learning process.

This is a prestigious award, with only three students in the country receiving it each year. What motivated you to apply for it?
It was suggested that I apply for this award based on my field of study.  As someone who loves both French and English, I was thrilled to discover such an applicable award.

Can you tell us how you plan to use the scholarship to further your studies?
At this point, the majority of the scholarship has gone towards my tuition at Brock; however, I have also set a portion aside to one day put towards a trip to France.

Finally, do you have any advice for students thinking of studying French at Brock?
I would just say that there are so many opportunities for French students at Brock so try to get involved with as many as possible!

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Visiting Research Chair Kevin White gives the first Marilyn Rose Lecture

The first annual Marilyn Rose Lecture Series was held on March 30 in Sankey Chamber. The lecture series, organized by the Department of English Language and Literature, the Centre for Canadian Studies, and the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, will explore themes and ideas that reflect Rose’s interests.

This year’s lecture was live streamed on our Facebook page and can be viewed at

A version of this article appeared March 28th in the Brock News.

Kevin White, Brock-Fulbright Research Chair in Transnational Studies, gave the inaugural Marilyn Rose Lecture with a talk titled “Crossing Borders and Boundaries: Real, Imagined, and Ancient.”

Marilyn Rose, the founding Dean of Brock’s Faculty of Graduate Studies and Professor of English, who passed away in 2015, was a beloved colleague to many people. Now her memory will live on through an annual lecture created in her honour.

“The lecture marks the beginning of a new venture, honouring Dr. Rose and all of her work by building a community around her various academic interests,” says event organizer Professor Gregory Betts.

The annual lecture will be run by the Centre for Canadian Studies, the Department of English, and the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, with some collaboration with the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. Themes will change each year but will reflect Rose’s own passions, which included detective fiction, national and literary iconography, modern and contemporary poetry and Canadian short fiction.

“These were her principal areas of interest,” says Betts. “This range affords us a great deal of freedom to cover an enormous range of topics, including creative writing.”

The event included a poetry reading by award-winning Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel, who is currently studying for a PhD at Simon Fraser University, where he focuses on digital humanities and Indigenous poetics. He has published three books and had his poetry published in numerous magazines and journals across Canada. His most recent collection of poetry, Injun, examines racism and the representation of indigenous people.

Kevin White, Brock-Fulbright Research Chair in Transnational Studies, gave a lecture titled “Crossing Borders and Boundaries: Real, Imagined, and Ancient.”

White’s paper explored questions and ways of thinking about borders and boundaries from the Haudenosaunee perspective.

“Sometimes these borders are geographic features that are mutually agreed upon spaces of existence. Other times these boundaries become lines on paper that are fraught with historical, political and cultural complexities and complications,” White says. “Then there are times where we frame these pathways as actually between worlds — such as with Haudenosaunee Creation.”

“It seems appropriate to start the series off with a talk on Iroquois cosmology narratives, as the foundational cultural form of the region,” says Betts.

Marilyn Rose was a popular professor in the Department of English and served as the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies from 2004 to 2012.  She was a distinguished educator, author and administrator.

“Marilyn was vital to the development of programs like Canadian Studies, as well the development of Graduate Studies at Brock,” says Professor Ann Howey, Chair of the Department of English. “She was a highly regarded teacher and a researcher with an amazing breadth of expertise.”

Rose’s contribution to the Brock community went well beyond academics.

“What was most impressive about Marilyn, though, was the ethics of care with which she approached everything: administration, teaching, research, participation in a community of scholars,” adds Howey.

“It made her an important mentor to many here at Brock, and she is still deeply missed.”

The late Professor Marilyn Rose is now honoured with an annual lecture series organized by the Department of English, Centre for Canadian Studies, and Centre for Pedagogical Innovation.

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