Barry Grant is being honoured for 34 years of teaching, research and overall service with an award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
Grant will receive the CAUT Distinguished Academic Award at the organization’s annual spring meeting in April. A professor at Brock since 1975, Grant is in the Department of Communications, Popular Culture and Film. His research interests include science fiction, horror and documentary film.
A native of New York City, Grant says Brock has been “a great place for me to teach and do my research”. At the CAUT meeting, he’ll give an acceptance address on an issue that concerns him in post-secondary education.
The award also honours Grant’s community work. He founded the Brock University Film Series 15 years ago, and was its president and co-programmer with retired professor Joan Nicks from 1995 to 2008. Other community work has included hosting the Niagara Indie Film Fest, volunteering with the Elderhostels program at Ridley College and writing a column, In Camera, for the St. Catharines Standard from 1997 to 2004. He also acts as a consultant to Silicon Knights, a local video game developer.
The Brock News recently asked the professor about his career and the award.
Q. What interested you about film studies and popular culture? What made you choose it as a career?
A. My doctorate was in 19th century American literature, but even while I was still in graduate school, I grew increasingly interested in the film studies, which at that time was an exciting new discipline taking concepts from literature, theatre, and art history. I had always liked movies, so I became increasingly involved in the academic study of cinema.
Q. What do you enjoy about teaching?
A. Eventually I made the shift from literature to film studies because of the pervasiveness of the visual media in our culture. For this reason, I believe it is particularly important that people learn to be ‘cineliterate’. Movies, television and other forms of popular culture are typically regarded as ‘entertainment’ not ‘art’, so people often think there is no need to study these cultural forms. I have been committed to learning and teaching about them precisely for this reason.
Q. What moments stand out for you as being highlights in your career?
A. Rather than highlights, what stands out for me in my career are those ongoing moments when real teaching and learning is going on. These are the most intense and most gratifying moments in anyone’s academic career. In addition, for me, presenting James Cameron and Atom Egoyan with honorary degrees at convocation was a thrill. Also very gratifying was witnessing the gathering support of my leadership from my colleagues when I was president of the Faculty Association during a difficult period in contract negotiations with the University administration.
Q. How do you feel about the CAUT award?
A. I am thrilled to receive this important award, which acknowledges all the dimensions of academic life, and truly humbled to be regarded by my colleagues across Canada as being worthy of receiving it.