Four arts professors receive prestigious fellowships

Four arts professors have been chosen as this year’s recipients of the Faculty of Arts Fellowships awarded in recognition of outstanding research projects – English professors Len Early and Darren Gobert, history Professor Molly Ladd-Taylor and social sciences Professor Lisa Drummond.

The fellowships, which represent the most prestigious awards offered by the Faculty of Arts, allow recipients to concentrate solely on completing their research projects. The recipients are released from their teaching and committee responsibilities for one academic year, 2008 to 2009. The fellowships are offered by the dean of Arts on the recommendation of the Faculty of Arts’ Committee on Research, Grants and Scholarship.

Left: Len Early

"I am delighted to receive a fellowship that will enable the completion of a major project that has been part of my life for a long time," said Early.

The project in question is a scholarly edition of the poetry of Canadian writer Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850-87). Early says Crawford is a significant figure in early Canadian literature, but a just estimate of her achievement has been hampered by the lack of accurate and complete editions of her work.

"My hope is that this edition will make possible, for the first time, a proper understanding of the development of Crawford’s poetry and the scope of her achievement, and that it will contribute to our understanding of a crucial phase in the growth of a national Canadian literature during the decades following Confederation," said Early.

In addition to the scholarly edition of Crawford’s poems, Early has been editing Crawford’s prose in collaboration with Michael Peterman of Trent University. Their edition of the novel Winona was issued in 2007 and the manuscript of a collection of Crawford’s short stories will be submitted to a publisher this spring.

Right: Darren Gobert

Gobert, who also plans to complete a book during his fellowship year, says, "I am very thankful and absolutely thrilled to receive the award."

His project, The Princess in Exile, considers tragic emotion in light of Descartes’s Les Passions de l’âme, which was dedicated to the exiled Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. Gobert explains that by circumscribing the benefits of emotional experience for the rational subject, Descartes complicated the debate about theatre’s moral function that was gripping European theatrical culture at the time. In his study, he hopes to demonstrate that Cartesian philosophy altered the way in which questions about emotion would be posed in dramatic theory and to examine how Descartes haunts representations of emotion in theatrical practice.

"This haunting altered the terms of a Western dramatic theory already preoccupied with pity and fear," said Gobert.

Left: Ladd-Taylor

Ladd-Taylor says she’s honoured to receive a Faculty of Arts Fellowship. "Time is the most precious resource for academics."

The book she will be completing during her fellowship year explores the place of eugenic sterilization in the history of American welfare. Her research focuses on Minnesota where at least 2,350 people, 80 per cent of them women, were sterilized under a 1925 eugenics law. The idea of eugenic sterilization was to prevent people, thought to carry defective genetic traits, from reproducing, but Ladd-Taylor’s study will consider its lesser known welfare function.

A central theme of her research is the gap between the goals and rhetoric of eugenicists and the routine implementation of sterilization as welfare policy. Ladd-Taylor says when analyzed from a social welfare perspective, eugenic sterilization appears less like a Nazi-like quest for racial purity, than a mundane – and all too modern – tale of fiscal politics, troubled families and deep-felt cultural attitudes about disability, economic dependency and gender.

For Drummond, the book project she will finish up during her fellowship year is Mad Dogs to Motorbikes: Public Space in Hanoi, Vietnam, from the French Colonial Period to the Present.

Right: Drummond 

Among Vietnamese historians, social scientists and politicians, Hanoi is often viewed as the heart of Vietnamese culture. Drummond’s study will examine Hanoi’s colonial and post-colonial experiences via newspaper reports, archival documents and interviews with Hanoi residents. Her intention is to explore the historical and contemporary landscape of the city to understand the changing notions and uses of public space in Vietnam’s cultural and political capital.

Drummond’s book will argue that a city’s public spaces not only construct, but have been constructed by social practices, state concerns and collective memory. Therefore, to understand contemporary Hanoi, she believes today’s urban forms and experiences must be contextualized within the city’s history, particularly within shifting ideas of public space. Some public spaces represent a significant site of contestation and negotiation between first colonial authorities and Vietnamese subjects, and after Independence, between the Vietnamese state and its citizens.

For more information on the Fellowships, click here. Contact information and deadlines may change.