Film expert Feldman takes over the Robarts Centre


Professor, writer, broadcaster and host of a highly acclaimed series of presentations, panels and screenings at York, Seth Feldman (below, right) has donned yet another mantle. VP Research & Innovation Stan Shapson appointed Feldman as director of York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies for a five-year term, which began July 1.

Feldman has ambitious plans for the centre. “In the next five years Robarts is going to build upon its well-established theme of Canada in the World,” he said. “We’re going to expand the centre’s interests in communications and culture, fine arts, political economy and history.

“What this really means is the development of a community of scholars, everyone from distinguished visitors and senior York professors to our ever-growing population of graduate researchers.”

Feldman has already had an extensive association with the Robarts Centre. In 2000-2001, as the Robarts Chair (a one-year position as researcher-in-residence), he programmed a series of events entitled The Triumph of Canadian Cinema. These events culminated in his Robarts Lecture, Canadian Movies, Eh?, itself the product of a quarter century of research into Canadian Cinema.

During the academic year just ended, Feldman was given a challenge: seconded to the Robarts Centre from his position in the Department of Film & Video, Faculty of Fine Arts, he was asked to work with then-director Daniel Drache to help restructure the centre’s activities. That project has won the approval of outside assessors and is now going forward to York’s Senate Committee on Research.

At the same time, Feldman and Drache won a $115,000 Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Research Development Initiative for a project entitled Global Cultural Flows, New Technology and the Re-Imagining of National Communities. (See Feb. 25, 2003, YFile article at

Prior to his association with the Robarts Centre, Feldman was dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts (1993-1998) and Chair of the Canadian Association of Fine Arts Deans.

Feldman has published extensively in the field of film and video, including two much-used anthologies, Canadian Film Reader and Take Two. In 2002, he published Allan King: Filmmaker, a book accompanying a retrospective of King’s films for the Toronto International Film Festival.

In addition, Feldman is a founder and past president of the Film Studies Association of Canada, and writer and presenter of 24 radio documentaries for the CBC Radio One series Ideas. The most recent of these documentaries, “The Case of the Harvard Mouse,” aired on June 4. (See June 3, 2003, YFile at

Left: Poster for The Triumph of Canadian Cinema series, programmed by Seth Feldman, then Robarts Chair at the centre

Feldman has taught at the University since 1983. Prior to his arrival at York, he taught in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario.

Drache will remain as associate director of the Robarts Centre, completing a long list of projects initiated during his directorship.

The Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies was established in 1982, endowed through support from the private sector and matching grants from the Secretary of State and the Province of Ontario. Named in memory of John Robarts (1917-1982), 17th premier of Ontario (1961-1971) and seventh chancellor of York University (1977-1982), the Robarts Centre was officially opened on May 15, 1984, by then-Premier William Davis.