Richard Anthony Cavell


Research Classification

Research Interests

Media and Society
Media Influence on Behavior
Media Types (Radio, Television, Written Press, etc.)
media studies
media theory

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Research Methodology

media theory


Doctoral students
Any time / year round

Media and literature
Multimodal fiction
Composed theatre
Soundscape poetics

I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Transoceanic Canada: The regional cosmopolitanism of George Woodcock (2013)

Through a critical examination of his oeuvre in relation to his transoceanic geographical and intellectual mobility, this dissertation argues that George Woodcock (1912-1995) articulates and applies a normative and methodological approach I term "regional cosmopolitanism". I trace the development of this philosophy from its germination in London's thirties and forties, when Woodcock drifted from the poetics of the "Auden generation" towards the anti-imperialism of Mahatma Gandhi and the anarchist aesthetic modernism of Sir Herbert Read. I show how these connected influences--and those also of Mulk Raj Anand, Marie-Louise Berneri, Prince Peter Kropotkin, George Orwell, and French Surrealism--affected Woodcock's critical engagements via print and radio with the Canadian cultural landscape of the Cold War and its concurrent countercultural long sixties. Woodcock's dynamic and dialectical understanding of the relationship between literature and society produced a key intervention in the development of Canadian literature and its critical study leading up to the establishment of the Canada Council and the groundbreaking journal "Canadian Literature". Through his research and travels in India--where he established relations with the exiled Dalai Lama and major figures of an independent English Indian literature--Woodcock relinquished the universalism of his modernist heritage in practising, as I show, a postcolonial and postmodern situated critical cosmopolitanism that advocates globally relevant regional culture as the interplay of various traditions shaped by specific geographies. I account for the relationships that pertain between this cosmopolitanism and the theories of the other most prominent Canadian cultural critics of the period, Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan. Woodcock's regional cosmopolitanism, advancing a culturally and politically confederate country as first established by Canadian Aboriginal civilizations, charged the ascending Romantic nationalism of the period with imperialism. As a theory of "common ground" fostering participatory agency for the post-national global village, regional cosmopolitanism offers an alternative to multiculturalism and Western humanist models of organization associated with neoliberalism.

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Designed words for a designed world: the international concrete poetry movement, 1955-71 (2010)

This dissertation positions the International Concrete Poetry movement within its historical moment and links it to the emergence of a new global imaginary around the middle of the 20th century. It makes the argument that contemporaneous social and technological shifts directly influenced the compositional strategies of a group of poets who aimed to transform poetry’s communicative power in a rapidly shifting media environment. By positioning primary materials – poems, manifestos, and statements by the poets themselves – against contemporaneous cultural phenomena across various disciplines, I perform a critical examination that allows for new strategies for engaging work that has historically frustrated readers. I identify in a series of permutational poems the influence of rudimentary computer technology and the implications that technology has for poetic subjectivity. I locate the international character of the movement in modernization projects such as Brasília, and in technologies that held significance for the entire globe, such as reinforced concrete, satellite photography, and nuclear weapons. As concrete poetry takes shape in both books and galleries, I investigate the spatial implications of the work in its various forms, and analyse its often fraught relationship with Conceptual Art, which also presented language in innovative ways though in pursuit of different purposes. Across this terrain my methodological approach oscillates between art history and literary and cultural studies, paying close attention to how the poetry circulated within and imagined global spaces at a time that predated but in some ways initiated the trends we now see more fully developed in current concepts of globalization.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

How real are people? : sports-centric real person fiction between mainstream and fanfiction (2023)

This thesis examines real person fiction (RPF) as a subgenre of fanfiction, which is online stories written by fans for other fans about books, movies, TV shows, or even celebrities. RPF is fanfiction—often abbreviated as fic or fanfic—about celebrities and can be written about anyone from actors to musicians, politicians, or athletes. RPF is what Stacey Lantagne describes as “aggressively fictional,” meaning that it bases its representations of celebrities on their media images, which Richard Dyer calls the star image. As writers and readers of RPF extrapolate their characterizations from this source text, they do not make any claims as to the truth of their stories. RPF is simultaneously widely derided even in online fan communities which historically challenge conventions, yet also exists in mainstream media: (Auto-)biographies and biopics in particular are widely popular and, unlike online RPF, impact the wider public’s perceptions of celebrities. While fanfiction’s subversiveness and capacity to function as social critique is equally lauded and questioned, I argue that sports RPF succeeds where other fanfiction and mainstream RPF frequently fails: in critiquing societal norms and creating a quasi-utopian space. The specific context of mainstream sports business and fandom is one of hegemonic masculinity, i.e., in men’s sports, masculine values and standards are reinforced in order to exercise power over people who do not adhere to these same standards, such as women and/or queer people. Online fanfiction-centric fandoms, on the other hand, are what Kristina Busse has described as a queer female space, referring both to the fact that the majority of online fandom members are queer and/or female and that many of the stories shared within the community are erotic and feature non-heteronormative relationships. Regardless of whether it is fantasy-centric reader-/self-insert fanfiction, in which the fan imagines themselves as part of the story, or fics extrapolating from displays of homosocial behavior by professional athletes and writing male/male romantic relationships between them: It is this clash of fundamentally opposed spheres which creates the quasi-utopian space of sports RPF fandom.

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