Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
This work is an ethnography of queer farmers throughout British Columbia and acknowledges that by working within such a diverse population, there exists no singular representation of “queer individuals,” “farmers,” and / or “queer farmers.” The research design integrates a qualitative, post-structuralist ethnographic and auto-ethnographic methodology based upon individual narratives and a review of both local (British Columbia) and non-local (national and international) print and web sources (academic and non-academic) related to gender, and especially sexuality, in agricultural production and practice. This study recognizes the existence of ecologies of social difference. I define ecologies of social difference as the role of ecological indicators, settings, and contexts as mediators and moderators in the intersections of social difference (i.e., the role of ecology in shaping both positively and negatively greater inequalities, inequities, injustices). This study draws from several intellectual lineages, from queer theory to feminist political ecology, to illustrate how agriculture might be transformed within a queer ecological context. Rooted in my belief that understandings of agriculture and ecology are shaped and impacted by gender and sexuality even as understandings of gender and sexuality are shaped and impacted by practices within and perceptions of agriculture and ecology, this work seeks to challenge heteronormative assumptions of both gender and sexuality and agriculture and ecology. It presupposes that queer sexualities can provide lenses through which farmers are not only creating new agricultural practices, but also new queer identities. These new, heretofore unstudied, lenses may then lead to the identification of new perspectives, practices, innovations and understandings of agricultural and ecological sustainability.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
This thesis investigates the memorial and monumental aspects of Jean Genet’s final memoir, Un captif amoureux. My introduction discusses biographical reading as a predominant trend in the critical literature and argues that this way of reading Genet empties out the political force of a deeply committed literary text, severing Un captif from the historical genealogies that led to its production. In response to this history, my work addresses the text’s memorial and monumental character in order to argue, first, for the sincerity of Genet’s articulations of political affinity to the Palestinians and the Black Panthers and, secondly, to argue that mourning, and the memorial impulse, are coextensive, in this text, with the (retrospective and prospective) production of community. I suggest that Genet considers memorial art as a means of assembling this community, whose point of connection (mourning) enables the transcendence (without the negation) of what might be considered to be irreconcilable differences, specifically national, ethno-religious, social, sexual and racial categories of identity. Chapter one considers the figure of cemetery as a spatial metaphor for the memory work being undertaken by the memoir. I argue that Genet conceives the power of the text’s commemorative capacity to be in its creation of a flexible and indeterminate discursive space, a figurative territory, for the literally dispossessed (living and dead) to inhabit. For Genet, the limitations of this project circulate around the identity and disposition of the prospective reader who, despite sometimes being characterized as sympathetic, appears to inhabit the text’s discursive space as an outsider. Chapter two turns from the architectural towards the sculptural. Unlike the spatial metaphor of the cemetery, which suggests habitation, dwelling, and the confluence of perspectives, the recurring image of the pièta suggests the devotional and ceremonial qualities of the memoir as a commemorative object and the text’s uneasy position within, and relationship to, the broader history and economy of Western representation. Comparing Genet to the vandalizer of Michelangelo’s pièta Lászlo Toth, I argue that his “vandalism” of the pièta produces both a new image to be circulated but, in creating a new image, a new referent also emerges.
This thesis studies pastoral, satire, and ecology in Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One (1948) and in the site that it satirizes: Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Forest Lawn, which Hubert Eaton founded in 1917 and Waugh visited in 1947, self-mythologizes as a pastoral garden. Its foundational myth promises that, “Filled With Towering Trees, Sweeping Lawns, Splashing Fountains, Singing Birds, Beautiful Statuary, [and] Cheerful Flowers,” Forest Lawn will be “As Unlike Other Cemeteries As Sunshine Is To Darkness, As Eternal Life Is Unlike Death.” This thesis uses insights gained from Waugh’s satire of Forest Lawn to show that the myth of the pastoral garden contributes significantly to ecological damage in the Los Angeles region and enables that damage’s subsequent forgetting. Through an ironic attention to pastoral representation, The Loved One exposes the mechanisms of environmental obfuscation and despoliation in Forest Lawn’s doctrine and environmental history. Forest Lawn’s relationship to natural resources emerges, in the light of Waugh’s satire, as ironic, exploitative, and deeply unstable. Ultimately, this thesis represents a step towards illustrating the usefulness of satire for ecocriticism; despite ecocriticism’s resistance to both studying satire and using its methods in environmental discourse, the satiric mode can productively expose and destabilize environmentally-dubious representational traditions.
No abstract available.
In this thesis, I conduct an ecocritical reading of Alan Moore’s tenure as writer on DC Comics’ monthly superhero comic Swamp Thing, which spanned from Volume 2 Issue 20 (January 1984) to Volume 2 Issue 64 (September 1987). I explore the ways in which Swamp Thing’s efforts to understand “the green”—a metaphysical network that connects all plant life in the universe—both challenge and reinforce the classical, Western division between Culture and Nature. Richard Harrison claims that the tenure of each creative team on a superhero comic establishes that tenure as a novel built around a “‘core cluster’ of first principles that define the hero in time and place and set his or her story in motion” (26). Whereas the core cluster of first principles for Wein and Wrightson’s run on Swamp Thing establishes non-human Nature as a physically violent force that unites with violent Culture to produce the monstrous body of Swamp Thing, Moore’s run establishes a core cluster of second principles that posit a more peaceful Nature that is continuously in conflict with the violence of Culture. The primary image of Wein’s first principles is Swamp Thing’s face frozen in an expression of horror and agony, while Moore’s second principles rely on a peaceful, smiling expression on Swamp Thing’s face, which suggests that Swamp Thing’s face is the face of ecology and an icon for the point at which humans can speak to the environment. Wein’s Swamp Thing was the anguished face of the environment, the point at which humans experience the sublime horror of the swamp, but Moore’s Swamp Thing is the smiling face of the environment, the point at which humans are invited to interact with the plants that comprise the swamp. For ecology to be possible in Swamp Thing’s world, humans must engage the smiling face of the environment.
Why is the pregnant body constructed as a secret to cover up and to uncover in the early modern period, and why, in Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, do apricots uncover this secret? This thesis addresses the odd moment from Webster’s play when the Duchess’s brothers uncover her secret pregnancy by feeding her grafted apricots, causing her premature labour. By examining early modern obstetrical texts, this thesis argues that early modern patriarchal culture appropriated the secrets of the female body in order to control women. In keeping her pregnancy a secret, the Duchess unwittingly produces her brothers’ desire to penetrate that secret. In order to do so, her brothers – particularly Ferdinand – feed her apricots, metaphorically transforming her body into a fruit tree. Early modern botanical texts show that the Duchess’s botanical body legitimates her brothers’ desire to control her. While apricots were not used as a pregnancy test according to early modern obstetrical texts, they could cause premature labour. This thesis sheds new light on the question of incest in Webster’s play, arguing the centrality of a phallic pun that appears in early versions of the play – “apricot” was “apricock.” This pun highlights the penetrative characteristics of the fruit, adding to the evidence of Ferdinand’s incestuous desire: his grafted apricocks penetrate the Duchess’s body and produce (figuratively, at least) her apricock child. Early in the play, Ferdinand is described as a plum tree, and this thesis finds – in the early modern gardening manuals – that apricot trees were most often grafted to plum trees in order to produce fruit. The fruit of the Duchess’s womb, revealed by her brother’s grafted apricocks, is figuratively the fruit of the apricot tree – the Duchess – and the plum tree – her brother Ferdinand.
This thesis explores the mill-site as a discursive, literary, and physical location. The philology of “mill” sets the focus on processing, which is described as a transformative action between nature and culture, one that nonetheless contributes to the ideological purification of those categories and to the construction of the “resource” as a formless reserve for consumption. The histories of power technologies (like mills) and their integration with ecologic and economic systems participate in determining the kind of relationship manifest between nature and culture. Noting the extension of the literal and figurative senses of “mill” to the processing of language, I also propose a notion of transcursivity to signal the transformation of language and symbolic additions to the activity of the mill-site. Chapter Two focuses on a reading of George Eliot’s novel The Mill on the Floss (1860), supplemented by an analysis of processing in Herman Melville’s story The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids (1855) and Charles Dickens’ article “A Paper-Mill” (1850). I argue for the importance of mill and setting to Eliot’s novel, finding the mill to be an active force in the plot at several junctures; The Mill on the Floss, through its engagement with the relation between different economies and the relation of economy to ecology, can be considered a central text for the study of such themes in Victorian literature. Close analysis of the language of processing itself points to the importance of medial substances like fibre and grain to the construction of materials as “resources.” Chapter Three describes the Hastings Mill, located in various historiographies as the Victorian “origin” of the City of Vancouver. Through exploration of archival and published historical texts, I describe that mill’s originary intervention as a break in the system that alters the region’s economic/ecologic history. Daphne Marlatt’s novel Ana Historic (1988) depicts this historical origin and seeks to problematize its common narrative by reimagining ignored women’s histories and by queering the significance of this colonial mill-site. Marlatt elucidates problems of historical interpretation associated with the mill’s form of biopower, and its influence on relation of nature to culture.