Erin Silver

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Activism and visual culture
Artist or Author Social Identity
Artistic and Literary Marginality
Artistic and Literary Movements, Schools and Styles
Canadian contemporary art
Feminist art histories
Movement culture
Performance studies
Queer art
social movements

Relevant Degree Programs



Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.

Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!

Check requirements
  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
  • Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
Focus your search
  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
Make a good impression
  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
Attend an information session

G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Art crimes: queering the revolution through the work of Pussy Riot and Petr Pavlensky (2020)

With the flick of a match, Petr Pavlensky set fire to the Bank of France in Paris, scorching the façade of the Haussmann exterior while French police tackled the artist to the ground. The performance was more than merely a spectacular action, but a call-to-arms for the mass mobilization of the proletariat for global revolution. The artist group Pussy Riot’s performance at Toronto Pride in 2015 also demanded structural change, as they travelled the parade route on a military tank laden with a dildo-shaped missile demanding the removal of Vladimir Putin from Russian office. Since inception, Pavlensky’s performances are exemplary mobilizations of Pussy Riot’s manifesto entitled “Commit an Art Crime,” the main component to the group’s performative acts. Art Crime becomes art as theory, enacting tactics of queer liberation through the form of the performance itself.In my thesis “Art Crimes: Queering the Revolution through the Work of Pussy Riot and Petr Pavlensky,” I will analyze the concept of art crime as a liberational tactic through three frameworks of bodily performance: public intervention, social terrorism, and queer-femme labour. In the first section, I demonstrate the transformative properties of the art crime in Pussy Riot’s performance at Toronto Pride, as well as the situation of Pussy Riot within the trajectory of Russian art. In section two, I apply the art crime to the performances of Petr Pavlensky, Pussy Riot’s predecessor. Section three of the thesis will nuance the art crime within queer femme labour through witchcraft in The Witches of Pussy Riot clean Manezhka, molding a framework for revolutionary tactics through labour in lived experience.

View record

Making place in hostile space: what are limits and radical possibilities of arts-based activism utilized by queer racialized activists in Britain today? (2020)

This thesis looks at the various formulations of art-based activism being utilized by queer racialized artists and activists working in Britain today. Much of the scholarship mapping queer arts-based activism has failed thus far to position race as a key point of analysis; this thesis looks to contribute to thinking otherwise. Analyzing a historic genealogy of race-based arts activism in Britain such as the 1979 formation of the BLK Arts Group and the works of Rashead Araeen, I look at the path that was paved for the queer racialized, politicized works we have seen take rise over the past decade. Further I make global links to the historic politicized arts-activism enacted by Black women in the Americas. Confronted by the erasure from both geographic and archival space, I argue that queer people of colour in Britain are “making place” in hostile space while ensuring our rightful place in the archive being made from the history of this moment. Key questions that have guided this research include: what are the possibilities such arts-based activism is enabling? What are the limitations of the activism and how are these being mediated by the activists I look at? What spaces are they operating in and how are they utilizing art as a medium to enact social change? What various forms is the activism I analyze taking on? I find that collectivist formations are the preferred way of working similarly, building and fostering community a key factor underpinning both the process and outcomes of the arts-based activism I look at. I employ the literature of scholars working across a diverse range of fields such as art history, performance studies, critical race theory, queer and gender studies, and sociology to aid my thinking. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of arts-based activism is reflected by the inability to remain in one field when analyzing the various manifestations of the activism which, this thesis argues, is a core strength of employing the use of art in activism.

View record


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Learn about our faculties, research and more than 300 programs in our 2021 Graduate Viewbook!