Emily Pohl-Weary

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Writing for Youth

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


It's #greatsupervisor week @UBCGradSchool, so I want to give a shout-out to @emilypohlweary for being a helpful and supportive supervisor!

Yilin Wang (2017)


Graduate Student Supervision

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.

"Small, unmendable pieces": recentering resilience and agency in immigrant child narratives with epistolary fiction (2022)

Immigrants make up almost a quarter of the Canadian population (Statistics Canada, 2017), but the emphasis on success and integration in immigration discourse overshadows the difficult aftermath of relocation for many immigrant families, especially on immigrant children. After all, “if the promise of citizenship is offered as a promise of happiness, then you have to demonstrate that you are a worthy recipient of its promise” (Ahmed, 2010, p. 133). However, many factors make it challenging for even families to discuss these complexities with each other. In this thesis, I will first outline the intricate nuances of the changes in immigrant family dynamics, then illustrate the importance of establishing a space where immigrant children can fully express and process their experiences and emotions in order to write a narrative that transcends their identities as ones solely defined by the hardships and trauma of immigration. Then, I will discuss why the epistolary form, with its intimate and candid nature, can provide this space for migrant children, and how its representation of consciousness can be an effective tool in constructing truth and identity when it comes to narrating migrant child experiences.

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The cave at the bottom of the waterfall (2022)

No abstract available.

Predatory gardens and rapacious father figures in The Rose and the Beast (2021)

Scholarly discourse surrounding Francesca Lia Block’s novels tends to spotlight the author’s interrogation of pedagogies concerning sexual trauma. Lee A. Talley and Elizabeth Marshall, for instance, argue that Block’s texts invite the reader to rethink conventional approaches to sexual assault narratives. Block’s texts shift the critical attention placed originally on the victims of sexual abuse onto the victims’ male aggressors, whether that be the “skanky” (Block 102) rapacious father figure that “Wolf” recuperates from traditional fairytales (Marshall 218), or the cultural forces that enable predatory figures to both construct and enact their sexual fantasies in the first place (Talley 119). Like Marshall and Talley, my thesis examines cultural eroticisms of girlhood in Block’s work, attending to the predatory man’s imagination of eroticized girlhood. Specifically, my thesis focuses on three tales in The Rose and the Beast — “Beast,” “Snow,” and “Charm" — and explores the male characters’ sexualization of girlhood by emphasizing their engagement with a critically overlooked feature of the collection: the garden. First, I situate Sarah Dinter’s understanding of the literary garden as an expression of adult constructions of childhood within a psychoanalytic context, arguing, through Freud’s theory of dreamwork, that flowers in the garden function as objects of displacement through which the father in “Beast” and the gardener in “Snow” repress their pedophilic fantasies about their daughters. My second chapter focuses on “Charm” and considers the rapacious father figure’s pedophilia through a critical race and post-colonial perspective. Merging James R. Kincaid’s theory of childhood as an erotic lens with Anne Anlin Cheng’s work on racial melancholy and cultural constructions of the “yellow woman” (415), I interpret Pop’s photographs as potent expressions of the infantilization underlying the erotic racialization of the Asian woman — a racialization that both disavows and retains the character Rev as an ethnic other.

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The Vassals of Creation: river's heir (2021)

No abstract available.

A map of the world's end and other stories (2020)

No abstract available.

Get off my cheeks hue! Liberal humanist hierarchies, posthumanism, and the artificial lifeforms of Final Space (2020)

For nearly fifty years, science fiction creators and posthumanist scholars have been imagining what our future environments alongside androids and cyborgs will look like. While some see technology as a threat to humanity (Francis Fukuyama), others envision new forms of subjectivity (N. Katherine Hayles and Donna Haraway) that can be derived from the “decentering of the human in relation to either evolutionary, ecological, or technological coordinates” (Cary Wolfe xvi). Whether these narratives depict utopic or dystopic futures, as humans travel into space, it is not just the final frontier they are discovering, but also their posthumanity. The cartoon Final Space (2018), a space opera parody with a high appeal to young adult audiences, depicts a posthuman future where humans and artificial lifeforms co-exist within the same environments. However, it is not without distinct liberal humanist hierarchies where biological life is valued over that of artificial life. Using a posthumanist framework, I explore the liberal humanist hierarchies present between the human and robotic characters within Final Space and examine how the show’s use of parody interrogates this anthropocentric mindset through a study of three robotic characters. The S.A.M.E.S. defy their sameness when their brief moments of individuality upset liberal humanist hierarchies; yet, they all perish within the show’s first season. Using theories of artificial morality, KVN depicts an autonomous moral agent whose existence confounds various posthuman boundaries, particularly those surrounding life and death. Lastly, HUE’s change from the AI of the Galaxy One spaceship into a small robotic shell aligns with Hayles’ argument about the necessity to consider embodiment for the posthuman subject. Using Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang as a comparative text, this thesis examines the hierarchy of AIs and artificial bodies in Final Space through the lens of posthuman ethics and critical disability studies.

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False truths: misused reductionist handles examined through Canadian literature (2019)

In Eurocentric culture, misused reductionist handles are manifestations of reductionism’s mutation from a specialized tool to examine limited aspects of the world into a worldview of its own, a fragmented epistemology “predicated on the discovery of a true world of realities lying behind a veil of appearances” (Latour 474-475). As someone whose naïve belief in the Eurocentric concept of Truth was challenged by exposure to Indigenous ways of knowing, I examine in this thesis the consequences of this misuse of reductionist handles by contrasting Eurocentric Canadian with Indigenous Canadian literature. In “Royal Beatings,” Alice Munro depicts how theatricality, a reductionist handle, is internalized by characters who thereby reduce themselves to culturally created roles; in “Miles City, Montana,” she depicts how idealism, another reductionist handle, is internalized by characters who then face irreconcilable contradictions in reality. On the other hand, the Nuu-chah-nulth origin story “How Son of Raven Captured the Day,” presented in E. Richard Atleo’s Tsawalk, uses theatricality as a holistic rather than reductionist tool that emphasizes the importance of maintaining respect for all. Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water also portrays the conflict between Eurocentric and Indigenous epistemologies through its emphasis on contextualization and use of water as a powerful holistic symbol, thus clarifying water’s rebellion against reductionism in “Miles City, Montana.” The concept of misused reductionist handles is useful for future research on reductionism’s epistemological influence, which can be guided by examining not only the differences between the Eurocentric worldview and other worldviews, but their intersections as well.

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Stuckness (a novel) (2019)

No abstract available.

The Fractured Life of Becca Crease, a novel: exploring a teenager's relationship with a non-binary parent, family resilience, and language in the middle grade novel, The Fractured Life of Becca Crease, an exegesis (2019)

Children and teens can—and often do—look for representation of their lives in children’s literature. An emerging area in children’s fiction is the inclusion of transgender and non-binary characters. However, these fictional characters are usually teens, although increasingly, children are being included. There are few works that include transgender and non-binary parents, even though they are part of our society, leading to a gap in children’s literature. Notably, Happy Families, the earliest mainstream children’s novel with a transgender parent, was only published in 2012. In this exegesis, I explore the research strategies and creative process involved in developing my children’s middle grade novel, The Fractured Life of Becca Crease, which features a key relationship between a teenaged protagonist and her non-binary parent. I discuss how transgender and non-binary parents are portrayed in published English language children’s literature and materials in North America. Additionally, I explain how my process of writing a contemporary novel was informed by understanding how children and teens may experience a parent’s gender transition, particularly within a family resiliency framework, and how mainstream society’s awareness of gender identity and associated language is rapidly shifting. While there are currently very few stories portraying families with transgender or non-binary parents, highlighting this gap may bring awareness to writers and publishers concerned with improving diversity in children’s publishing.

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All over the map (2018)

No abstract available.

How to Ruin Your Life (2017)

No abstract available.


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