Two feminist researchers receive the Mary McEwan Memorial Award

Two York grads are the recipients of 2015-16 Mary McEwan Memorial Award. Helene Vosters (PhD ’15) and Veronika Novoselova (MA ’11, PhD’16) are the recipients of the 2014-15 and the 2015-16 awards respectively.

Helene Vosters

Helene Vosters

Helene Vosters

Vosters, an artist, scholar and activist, is the recipient of the 2014-15 award. She holds a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies (York University) and is currently a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manitoba. Her work explores issues of state violence, the politics of its transmission into social memory, and the role of performance and aesthetic practices in mobilizing resistance. She received the award for her project, titled “Good Mourning Canada? Canadian Military Commemoration and its Lost Subjects. ”


Using the Highway of Heroes as a point of departure, “Good Mourning Canada? Canadian Military Commemoration and its Lost Subjects” interrogates the role of Canadian military commemoration in the construction of nationalist narratives and gendered and raced hierarchies of grief. Extending the work of feminist historians, Vosters argues that the displacement of women—as gender-marked bodies—from their historical role as the primary public mediators of mourning, left its new mediators conveniently unmarked. Unlike the invisibility of the marginalized or disavowed “other,” the privileged invisibility of military commemoration’s unmarked mediators is a powerful one that naturalizes the gendered and racialized essentialisms produced by processes of militarism, colonialism, and nationalism.

The theoretical and historical labour of Vosters' research is done in concert with a process of embodied inquiry in the form of three durational memorial performance projects—Impact Afghanistan War; Unravel: A Meditation on the Warp and Weft of Militarism; and Flag of Tears: Lament for the Stains of a Nation. Following performance and queer studies theorist José Esteban Muñoz, each of these projects engages a disidentificatory and intersectional feminist embrace of the gendered lexicons of violence, war, and peace as a mechanism for resisting the violent essentialisms of militarism and nationalism. As with her examination of the history of women’s lament, through the use of this kind of performance approach, her intention is to make strange military commemoration’s normalizing mournful narratives by drawing attention to their construction and their performances of in/visibility.

Vosters’ scholarly contributions include articles in Canadian and international peer-reviewed academic journals (Performance Research, Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Journal of Practice-based Research in Theatre, and Canadian Theatre Review), and book sections in Performance Studies in Canada (forthcoming), Performing Objects and Theatrical Things and Theatre of Affect.

Veronika Novoselova

Veronika Novoselova

Veronika Novoselova

Novoselova is the recipient of the 2015-16 award for her project titled, “Networked Publics, Networked Politics: Resisting Gender-Based Violent Speech in Digital Media.”

Novoselova holds an MA and a PhD from York University. In 2016, she completed her doctoral research in the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist & Women’s Studies. Her dissertation identifies, contextualizes, and analyzes responses to verbal violence on digital media platforms across Canada and the United States.

Located at the intersections of media studies and feminist theory, her most recent research explores how digitally mediated confessions reveal negotiations of privilege and difference in feminist blogging cultures. In addition to teaching and research, Novoselova for the past four years has been serving as a Social Media Coordinator at Feral Feminisms, a peer-reviewed multimedia journal that is based in Toronto.

“Networked Publics, Networked Politics: Resisting Gender-Based Violent Speech in Digital Media” is a qualitative study of digital media that identifies and analyzes feminist responses to violent speech in networked environments across Canada and the United States between 2011 and 2015. Exploring how verbal violence is constitutive of and constituted by power relations in the feminist blogosphere,  Novoselova asks the following set of research questions: How do feminist bloggers politicize and problematize instances of violent speech on digital media? In what ways are their networked interactions and self-representations reconfigured as a result of having to face hostile audiences? What modes of agency appear within feminist blogging cultures?

Drawing on interviews with the key players in the feminist blogosphere and providing a discursive reading of selected digital texts, Novoselova identifies networked resistive strategies including digital archiving, public shaming, strategic silence and institutional transformations. She argues that feminist responses to violent speech are varied and reflect not only long-standing concerns with community building and women’s voices in public context, but also emerging anxieties around self-branding, professional identity and a control over one's digital presence. This research underscores the importance of transformative capacities of networked feminist politics and contextualizes modes of participation in response to problematic communication.

About the Mary McEwan Memorial Award

Named in honour of Mary McEwan, a feminist psychologist, the Mary McEwan Memorial Award is awarded annually to one PhD dissertation produced per year at York University in the area of feminist scholarship. An awards committee of faculty affiliated with the Centre for Feminist Research selects the winners.

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