Standard Research Grants 2009
Standard Research Grants awarded to members of the Faculty of Arts in 2009.
(information courtesy of the researchers)
Arash Abizadeh, Political Science
Alia Al-Saji, Philosophy
Darin Barney, Art History and Communication Studies
Karin Bauer, German Studies
Delphine Collin-Vézina, Social Work
Isabelle Daunais, French Language and Literature
Russell Davidson, Economics
David Davies, Philosophy
Marguerite Deslauriers, Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
Nicholas Dew, History
Myriam Gervais, Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
Jennifer Hunt, Economics
Sandra Hyde, Anthropology
Matthew Lange, Sociology
Christopher Manfredi, Political Science
Baldev Raj Nayar, Political Science
Charmaine Nelson, Art History and Communication Studies
Philip Oxhorn, Political Science
Vincent Pouliot, Political Science
Peter Sabor, English
Jonathan Sterne, Art History and Communication Studies
The demos unbounded: democracy, nationalism, and globalization
Amount awarded: $67,678
Two of the most pressing issues confronting liberal democracies today, according to Professor Abizadeh, are how to regulate immigration and borders and how to effect social integration while accommodating the tremendous diversity of contemporary societies. His research for this project will address these issues with three primary goals in mind: to examine the ethics of border control from the perspective of normative democratic theory, to show how focusing on the legitimacy of border control forces a fundamental reassessment of democratic theory itself, and to use this reassessment, in turn, to explain traditional democratic theory's tendency to collapse into homogenizing forms of nationalism. By diagnosing and providing a possible solution to this collapse, Professor Abizadeh is confident that his research will help remove one of the most significant barriers facing democratic theory and practice in multinational and post-national contexts such as Canada and the European Union. His inquiries will draw from the history of political philosophy, contemporary political theory, social theory and relevant empirical literature concerning nationalism and identity in particular. Graduate students will be trained in scholarly research methodologies including the analysis and review of relevant literature. They will also have the chance to be a part of the steps involved in the publication process as the primary goal of Professor Abizadeh's research is to produce a full-length manuscript. In addition to his book, he will also present his research findings through articles in scholarly journals and through presentations at academic conferences.
Key words: tbd
Vision, race and ethics: a phenomenological investigation of racializing perception
Amount awarded: $39,957
The aim of Professor Al-Saji's research project is to understand the relation between visual perception and what is called the process of "racialization" (i.e., the mechanism by which the body of another person comes to be seen as belonging to a particular "race", whether biologically or culturally defined). Her project is situated at the intersection of three philosophical subfields: phenomenology, critical race theory, and feminist theory. Because of its philosophical and social relevance, Professor Al-Saji sees this research program as a unique framework for the training and development of graduate students. In the context of doing literature searches and developing a website, students will learn a set of nuanced research skills that will be central to the overall research program's methodology and success. Professor Al-Saji's own research work will be composed primarily of careful examination and critical analyses of philosophical texts including the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Frantz Fanon. The research results will be disseminated through presentations at generalist philosophical and interdisciplinary conferences as well as at specialized conferences for experts in the field of Merleau-Ponty studies and race theory. Eventually, Professor Al-Saji will rework these conference papers and publish them in the form of two refereed articles and a full-length book.
Key words: 20th century French philosophy, feminist philosophy, critical race theory, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Frantz Fanon, phenomenology, vision, perception, embodiment, ethics, intersubjectivity, difference, racialization, cultural racism, representation
Grain elevators and the politics of technology in rural Canada
Amount awarded: $82,890
Along with their status as icons of the Canadian prairies, Professor Barney sees country grain elevators in western Canada not just as an infrastructure for the storage and handling of grain but also a medium through which prairie social, political and economic life was generally organized and carried out. In this sense, schools, churches, beer parlors, supply and equipment stores, and postal and other service buildings would arise in their proximity. In recent decades, thousands of these structures have been demolished. While some have been refurbished as galleries or tourist attractions, most have been replaced by so-called "high throughput facilities," which can store many times the volume of grain that a country elevator can, and can receive and ship grain simultaneously. With this project, Professor Barney will study the transition from the country elevator to the high throughput facility simultaneously as a political problem, a technological problem, and a communication problem. His research activities will include archival research on the history of grain elevators and their place in the development of the prairie wheat pools and social-democratic populism, field research at sites of abandoned and operating country elevators and high-throughput terminals and interviews with key players in the Canadian grain industry. He will be assisted and accompanied at each stage of research by graduate student assistants. Preliminary results will be presented at academic conferences including the annual meetings of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada. Scholarly articles will be presented to journals and may eventually be gathered in a book-length manuscript.
Key words: technology, politics, grain elevators, rural Canada
Shaping counter-publics: Ulrike Meinhof, konkret, and the collective imagination
Amount awarded: $64,689
Through the research undertaken for this project, Professor Bauer seeks to understand how alternative public spheres emerge to contest, augment, and subvert dominant ideas and paradigms. Her principle aim is to study why and how segments of the German New Left strove to shape a critically enlightened counter-public in the 1960s. Focusing on the work of Ulrike Meinhof and the German magazine konkret: magazine for politics and culture, the project will analyze the theoretical arguments and rhetorical, aesthetic, and affective strategies mobilized to forge "a discursive public arena in opposition to both the bourgeois public sphere and the sphere of commodified culture, entertainment, and consumption." Central to the project are issues of gender and the question of whether the theoretical and practical endeavors to form a counter-public are sensitive to the interest of women. The study of Meinhof and the counter-public charts new directions and expands on the outcome of Professor Bauer's last SSHRC-funded project (From Protest to Resistance: the Enigma of Ulrike Meinhof, 2005-08). Her research activities for this project will include archival and library research of documents relating to the history of konkret, the work of Meinhof, and the conceptualization of konkret as a forum of the counter-public. The collected findings will be used to create a database, allowing Professor Bauer to merge texts and images and generate precise data on the frequency of themes, issues, images and contributors and how they shift over time. As part of the project, graduate students will be trained in archival research as well as the processing of collected data. The major outcome of the project will be a scholarly monograph on the counter-public in the 1960s, preceded by articles or book chapters.
Key words: German culture, media, publics, collective creativity
Decline in sexual abuse cases investigated by the Canadian child welfare systems: exploration of potential explanations
Amount awarded: $181,231
This project, led by Professor Collin-Vézina, will bring together a group of researchers whose collective expertise lies in the domains of child sexual abuse (CSA), child maltreatment, and child welfare, who will work with community and First Nations organizations to better understand the recent decline in the number of CSA cases in Canada. According to a recent study, the number of CSA cases that were investigated and confirmed by the Canadian Child Protective Services (CPS) declined by 30% between 1998 and 2003. While Professor Collin-Vézina and her research group, which includes Professor Nico Trocmé from the School of Social Work, hope that this decline reflects a true reduction of sexual abuse inflicted on Canadian children, other possible factors may be at play. In order to understand what these other possible causes might be, their research will be both quantitative and qualitative methods, beginning with interviews with CSA survivors and professionals (physicians, psychologists, social workers and police officers) which will then be coded and analyzed. Professor Collin-Vézina expects the results of the study to be of great interest for scholars, CPS directors and practitioners, policy-makers, and the general public. As such, the results will be disseminated through presentations, in academic journals and at conferences, as well as through informal vehicles such as fact sheets posted on the group's partners' websites, during meetings and roundtables, and through interviews with the media. The project will also provide learning opportunities for graduate students, who will gain knowledge about CSA as well as various research methodologies and CPS practices.
Key words: child sexual abuse, Canadian child welfare, detection processes, decline in incidence, perceptions and attitudes towards child welfare, investigation procedures, substantiation criteria
La pensée sur le roman 1900-1970
Amount awarded: $125,993
As recently as the 20th century, according to Professor Daunais, the practice of reflection and sustained commentary on the novel existed only marginally in the French literary tradition. The genre developed without a real sense of "poetic art" and with very few attempts by its general practitioners to define it or to define its forms. If, as some scholars believe, the 19th century marks a period of advancement in the genre (with Balzac and Zola in particular), it is only at the beginning of the last century that the practice (by novelists and critics) of reflecting on the foundations of the novel as its own art appears. It is this "birth of the thought on the novel" and its development up to the years between 1960 and 1970 on which Professor Daunais and her research team, which includes McGill Professors Michel Biron and François Ricard, will focus their study. Their hypothesis is that this reflection, within the history of literary criticism, can be seen as a distinct domain, and that the reflection led by novelists on the novel differs from that led by critics, novelists approaching the novel as an "art" as such rather than simply a literary genre. Their program of research will include an analysis of relevant works (essays, interviews, correspondence, forewords) in order to see how novelists define the novel as a field of its own and more specifically as a form of thought. With the aim of sharing their research with the broad university community, Professor Daunais and her colleagues plan to publish articles and hold regular activities such as seminars and open study days on literary arts and the poetics of the novel for researchers and students. The ultimate aim of the study is to produce a collective work based on the group's textual studies.
Key words: roman, romanciers, poétique, 20e siècle
Bootstrap theory and applications
Amount awarded: $77,000
For over a decade, Professor Davidson has been engaged in inquiry into using bootstrap methods to ease statistical inference in economics. Bootstrapping is a way of performing tests on hypotheses. The problem, according to Professor Davidson, is that the bootstrap can be misused. He recently proposed two "golden rules" of bootstrapping, which encapsulate the principles of the correct use of the bootstrap for inference. Without these rules, he believes, the performance of the theory is not necessarily as good as it could be. Much of his current research, therefore, is directed at developing reliable bootstrap techniques that are reasonably easy to implement. The overall aim of the present project is to improve statistical methodology in econometrics, by basing it on firmer theoretical foundations. The majority of Professor Davidson's research work will be performed using simulation experiments. He will provide graduate students with training in the use of computer programming languages, computer simulation and various branches of mathematics. Professor Davidson's research findings will be disseminated through articles in refereed journals, at conference presentations and at seminars.
Key words: bootstrap, statistical inference, econometrics
Women, rationality and immortality: the reception of Plato and Aristotle in 16th and 17th C. feminist philosophy
Amount awarded: $80,237
Aristotle and Plato, Professor Deslauriers explains, both attribute to all living beings an impulse toward immortality. This impulse is most often realized through the reproduction of offspring, but, because of the capacity for rationality, people can also achieve a different form of immortality through contemplation of the divine. Through her research for this project, Professor Deslauriers seeks to understand the two paths to immortality with respect to the role of sexuality in its achievement. The aim of the first part of the project is to examine the texts of Plato and Aristotle that distinguish these different paths, and the aim of the second part is to understand the uses certain Renaissance feminist authors make of the work of Plato and Aristotle with respect to reason, embodied reason, and immortality. Among the main research activities for the project is the analysis of primary sources, ancient and Renaissance, using the context of the authors' work, the work of contemporaries with whom the authors are in dialogue, commentaries when available, and the scholarship on these works and passages. Professor Deslauriers' project will make important contributions to the training of graduate students, who will become acquainted with major scholarly resources in the history of philosophy and will be trained in the development and preparation of bibliographies. The research results will be communicated through papers to be delivered at national and international conferences, through scholarly articles and a website. The latter will provide a resource to students and the general public wishing to explore the history of sexual difference in souls, in bodies, and in sexuality.
Key words: immortality, gender, ancient philosophy, Renaissance philosophy, feminist interpretations of Plato and Aristotle
Science and empire in the French Atlantic world, c. 1660-1760
Amount awarded: $49,500
While the emergence of modern science and globalized commerce occurred together in the early modern period, Professor Dew points out that we still have only a vague picture of how the two processes were connected. The aim of this project is to create a cultural history of colonialism and science in the early Enlightenment period. Professor Dew's research will be centered on the scientific networks of the French Atlantic colonies, which, he notes, linked France to West Africa, Guyana, the Antilles, Louisiana, and Canada, between the 1650s and the 1750s, a key formative period both for modern science and for European imperialism. Analyzing both books and manuscripts, much of Professor Dew's research will be conducted in institutions such as the archives of the Paris Observatory, the Archives of the Académie des Sciences (Paris), and the manuscript collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Going beyond sources traditionally used by historians of science, Professor Dew will look for the uses of science, technology and medicine in the archives of French colonial companies such as the Compagnie du Sénégal and the Compagnie des Indes occidentales. On these research trips, he will be accompanied by a graduate student who will conduct research and receive training in archival research methods. The major outcome of the project will be a full-length book. Results will also be disseminated through international conference presentations and refereed scholarly journal articles. A website will be created to host various documents including guides to research, links to online resources, bibliographies, versions of the research findings prepared specifically for the website, and images from primary sources.
Key words: Early Modern Europe, Early Modern France, history of science, history of travel, intellectual history (1600-1800), cultural history
Through their eyes: rural Rwandan girls' and women's vision for engendering poverty reduction strategies
Amount awarded: $163,000
Using cameras and photographs as a way to give voice to girls and women (aka "photovoice"), Professor Gervais and her research team will use rural Rwanda as a case study for their project, focusing on an analysis of gender to help provide insight into the challenges, desired solutions and realities that girls and women prioritize. Among the principle goals of Professor Gervais' research project is to reveal ways of rethinking current poverty strategies through the inclusion of women in development processes. She and her interdisciplinary team, which includes Professor Claudia Mitchell from the Faculty of Education, will use participatory visual methodologies to analyze key issues through the experiences of rural girls and women. Their research will consist mainly of fieldwork and will allow graduate students the opportunity to be trained in participatory visual methods, gender-based analysis, and the process of data collection and management. Professor Gervais and her team will disseminate their research findings by presenting papers at academic conferences and through scholarly journal articles. Because of the participatory nature of this work, Professor Gervais anticipates opportunities to ensure that the research results reach local stakeholders, policy-makers and the participants themselves, through a workshop in Kigali and local photography exhibitions in women's council centers. Finally, the team will produce a book that examines cross-sectoral gender issues as a new way of engendering poverty reduction strategies.
Key words: rural female poverty, gender barriers, participatory visual methodologies, tacit knowledge, engendering development, Africa, Rwanda
Looking beyond native men for innovation and entrepreneurship: the potential of women and immigrants
Amount awarded: $62,000
Many American policy analysts are concerned about the declining U.S. share in world patenting and scientific publishing, which, Professor Hunt points out, is attributed to the perceived failure of the United States in educating as many scientists and engineers as "competitor" countries. The primary objective of her project, therefore, is to evaluate for the United States the extent to which contributions of immigrants and women can augment innovation and entrepreneurship and counterbalance the declining share of native men working in science and engineering. Two possible solutions, she believes, are to increase skilled immigration and to reduce women's disproportionate exit from the fields of science and engineering. With this project, Professor Hunt will evaluate the extent to which the contributions of immigrants and women can enhance innovation and entrepreneurship, and what changes in immigration policy and practice can help bring this about. To do so, she will analyze the 1993 and 2003 waves of the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG). The data portion of the study will offer graduate students a chance to learn how to prepare data, how to frame research questions, how to appraise data in light of the hypothesis to be tested and how to run sensible regressions. The results of Professor Hunt's research will be published in three papers: the objective of the first paper is to quantify the success of skilled (i.e. college graduate) immigrants and to judge whether the United States would do better to admit skilled immigrants as students, on work visas, or through family ties. The objective of the second paper is to determine why women leave science and engineering for other fields at greater rates than men and to investigate why women patent, publish and present less than men. And the objective of the third paper is to investigate the success of skilled immigrant women in entrepreneurship.
Key words: immigration, gender, innovation, assimilation
Chasing the dragon: heroin addiction, global therapeutics and residential care in China
Amount awarded: $99,700
The primary purpose of Professor Hyde's research project is to examine how non-government organizations (NGOs) in China are trying to shift drug addiction treatment from a punitive-juridical domain to a psychological therapeutic one. To understand this emerging shift, she will focus on three Chinese residential drug treatment centers, and as the comparison site, the U.S. center in New York after which they were modeled. The ethnographic portion of her research will be divided into two parts: participant observation at four treatment centers in Kunming, Beijing, Wuhan and New York and 100 semi-structured interviews with staff and residents from the three Chinese centers. Graduate students will be involved in each stage of the research and will receive hands-on training and experience in questionnaire design and administration, data entry and management, preliminary data analysis and the publication of results. The students will also gain exposure to methods of analyzing qualitative research data, particularly the coding of interviews and field notes. Once analyzed and completed, Professor Hyde's research results will be published as a book that she expects will appeal to a wide range of scholars in the social sciences, public health, and medicine. She will also write three academic journal articles. Above all, Professor Hyde is confident that the most important contribution of her research will be in its application: the results will provide local and government health organizations with rich descriptions of Chinese therapies, like family residential care, for use in developing future prevention projects and new health policies.
Key words: addiction, China, NGOs, mental health, anthropology, heroin
Teaching violence: an analysis of education and its impact on ethnic conflict
Amount awarded: $69,500
Previous research by a number of scholars, Professor Lange notes, suggests that education improves critical thinking skills, socializes individuals to value equality and thereby promotes tolerance. While he agrees that education has this potential, Professor Lange believes that ethnic conflict and tolerance are two distinct social phenomena, and that the accuracy and generalizability of the findings on tolerance are questionable. Furthermore, a review of different literatures suggests that education has the potential to exacerbate conflict in ethnically stratified societies. For this research project, Professor Lange will investigate how education affects the prevalence and intensity of ethnic conflict. In an effort to analyze diverse types of data, he will employ a mixed-methods research design consisting of three analytic sections. In the first section, he will use cross-national data to test the relationship between three different national-level indicators of education and the intensity of ethnic conflict between 1960 and 1999. Secondly, he will analyze three notoriously intolerant and violent organizations: the Nazi party in Germany during the 1930s, the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana and select American cities during the 1920s, and Hamas over the past two decades. The third section will explore the impact of education on ethnic conflict in Canada, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka. While assisting in all stages of this research project, graduate students will gain experience in areas such as managing a dataset and running quantitative analyses, completing literature reviews and analyzing archival materials. Professor Lange will disseminate his research results through several scholarly articles, a book, and through conference presentations.
Key words: education, ethnic violence
Conservatives in court: legal countermobilization and the Charter
Amount awarded: $67,426
With the aim of providing an account and evaluation of the strategic use of rights-based litigation by the Canadian conservative movement to advance its policy agenda during the post-Charter era, Professor Manfredi's research will focus on what he sees as two vital yet understudied phenomena. The first phenomenon, he explains, is public interest litigation by organized groups and the second concerns the policy impact of judicial decision. His methodology for this research will be derived from the case study tradition and will focus on three groups that have engaged in Charter litigation in three distinct policy areas: social and family policy, electoral regulation, and health care policy. The groups to be studied are REAL Women, based in Ottawa; the National Citizens' Coalition in Toronto; and the Canadian Constitution Foundation in Calgary. Professor Manfredi's research will include archival research, document analysis, and data collection at each of the three sites. Graduate student assistants will be trained in the theory and methods of public law and in conducting research through direct participation in interviews with members of the three groups. The results of Professor Manfredi's research will be communicated to academic audiences through conference papers, articles in scholarly journals and a book. Results will be communicated to the general public through op-eds in major Canadian newspapers.
Key words: Charter of Rights, litigation, conservatives, policy
Baldev Raj Nayar
Towards a more perfect union: globalization pressures and public policy in India
Amount awarded: $47,040
According to Professor Nayar, globalization is one of the most dominant concepts in the social sciences today as well as a significant social phenomenon in the contemporary world. Consequently, the impact of globalization is a crucial concern for citizens and statesmen, labor and business, and civil society. Professor Nayar points out that a significant strand in the scholarly critique of globalization is that it threatens national integration, a term that he feels is often interpreted broadly and not sufficiently defined. With his grant, Professor Nayar will examine elite perceptions and preferences, public policy, and outcomes in India with respect to the challenges posed to the State by globalization. More specifically, he seeks to determine the degree of awareness of such challenges on the part of State elites, to discern the strategies that the State has adapted to cope with these challenges and to assess their coping success. His research methodology will include a combination of quantitative data and qualitative analysis, use of historical materials and contemporary data, and the examination of official documents and interviews. A graduate student working with Professor Nayar will perform bibliographic and internet searches, data analyses and interview transcription. Although the project will be focused on the national level, Professor Nayar will also examine different provinces by concentrating on four of them, selected on the basis of region and stage of development: Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. The results of Professor Nayar's research will be communicated through the presentation of papers at scholarly conferences, the publishing of articles in professional journals, and a book.
Key words: tbd
Sugar cane, slaves and ships: race, geography and power in nineteenth-century marine landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica
Amount awarded: $119,304
In addition to the relative absence of art historical slavery studies, Professor Nelson points out, visual art is sometimes erased entirely from even the most exhaustive slavery studies anthologies. Likewise, Canadian slavery is often overshadowed by the tendency to focus on tropical plantation contexts. In light of this gap, Professor Nelson's research project will focus on Canada specifically, examining the culture of imperialism through the lens of slavery and the connected enterprises of imperial militarization and colonial trade. She has designed her research to explore the potential of the terms "transoceanic" and "imperial picturesque" to theorize 19th century marine landscape art; to explore the forced cross-racial, cross-cultural contact of trans-Atlantic slavery and empire-building as culturally transformative and productive; to question the centrality of the human subject (and the genres that focus on it) as the paramount site of Postcolonial Art History; and to examine issues of race, geography and power as constitutive of a cultural practice. While all of the students involved in Professor Nelson's project will be responsible for certain administrative aspects, they will each also receive training in resource location, data collection and the visual analysis of art objects. The results of Professor Nelson's research will be presented at both Canadian and international conferences, through a research website and eventually, a manuscript.
Key words: Canadian art, marine landscape painting, Montreal, colonialism, transoceanic art, black Diaspora, black Atlantic
The social construction of citizenship rights in new democracies: comparing South Africa and Chile
Amount awarded: $136,041
According to Professor Oxhorn, citizens are increasingly aware that democratic government offers unique opportunities for participation, state responsiveness to citizen needs and the accountability of state officials for their actions. Yet, as he observes, for most new democracies the inability of elected governments to effectively respond to the urgent needs of citizens, including stable employment, education and access to adequate healthcare, raises real fears. Professor Oxhorn will develop a cross-regional conceptualization of democracy, civil society and citizenship and articulate a causal theory of citizenship focusing on three competing models: citizenship as cooptation, citizenship as consumption and citizenship as agency. Using Chile and South Africa as case studies, Professor Oxhorn will analyze processes of social construction citizenship and their impact on the quality of democratic governance using a theoretical framework he developed in earlier SSHRC-funded research. Graduate students will be actively involved in the development and execution of this project, helping with literature searches and with the review of secondary source materials. Students will also assist in processing interview data and the dissemination of research results. While the ultimate aim of the project is a book, Professor Oxhorn will also communicate his research results through several articles in refereed journals, particularly on theoretical issues involved in the comparative study of citizenship, and at various academic conferences.
Key words: citizenship rights, democracy, civil society, comparative politics, Chilean politics, South African politics
The hierarchical society: the sense of one's place in international organizations
Amount awarded: $87,896
Order, or the relative stability of a given arrangement of parts, Professor Pouliot explains, has long been a key concern for scholars in the International Relations (IR) subdiscipline. While dominant theories emphasize different dimensions of the international structure, from the distribution of material power to intersubjective knowledge, a crucial issue remains: how does a particular arrangement of parts (a structure) translate into stabilized patterns of interaction on the ground of international diplomacy and practice? More simply, how do practitioners get to know, and then implement on a daily basis, the international order that IR theories describe structurally? Professor Pouliot believes that a macro-micro link is missing that could explain how structural forces produce specific actions at the level of agency. His research will be based on a "subjectivist" methodology, specifically geared toward the study of the logic of practicality in world politics. The first step in this process will be to reconstruct the world as it exists for diplomats and practitioners "on the ground". In order to do this, Professor Pouliot will conduct 60 qualitative interviews, making use of contacts that he has within the UN, NATO, and the Canadian delegations in Brussels and New York. Graduate students working with Professor Pouliot will have a chance to familiarize themselves with all the different stages of scholarly research, from design to writing through data collection and analysis. The primary outcome of Professor Pouliot's research will be a book, and he will also prepare a number of articles to be published in refereed journals and presented at academic conferences.
Key words: organisations internationales, ordre interétatique, théorie de la pratique, conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, OTAN, diplomatie, multilatéralisme
The life of Jane Austen: a critical biography
Amount awarded: $82,789
Virginia Woolf famously declared Jane Austen to be the most difficult of all writers "to catch in the act of greatness." With this research project, Professor Sabor aims to meet Woolf's challenge and produce a biography of Austen in which her life and works come together. In The Life of Jane Austen, which he has been commissioned to write for the Blackwell Critical Biographies, Professor Sabor's aim is to explore the ways in which Austen's novels and other writings grew out of what we know about her life. With this work, he will show that Austen the woman and Austen the writer were not two distinct figures and thus shed new light on the ways in which she read, thought, wrote and managed her authorial career. The biography will be aimed primarily at university-level students and scholars, but, given the interest in its subject, Professor Sabor expects that it will also have considerable popular appeal. Professor Sabor's research for the project will include examining the Austen archives in London, Cambridge, Hampshire and New York. He will be assisted in this research by graduate students who will gain experience in working with both print and online resources shared by the Burney Centre and the McLennan Library at McGill. In addition to the Austen biography, Professor Sabor will communicate his results through articles in scholarly journals and through presentations to the Montréal and the Burlington, Vermont regions of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and the Literary and Historical Society of Québec. Aided by a student assistant he will also create a website for the project, which will act as a promotional tool for disseminating news about his work as it progresses.
Key words: Jane Austen, biography, literature, women writers, the novel
Sound directions: how sonic models shape new media
Amount awarded: $78,500
According to Professor Sterne, composer R. Murray Schafer famously coined the term "soundscape" to describe the total sonic environment in which people dwell. Just as urban Canadians today dwell in a largely built environment, they also dwell in a largely built sonic environment (i.e. a synthetic soundscape). From new speaker systems to mobile phones and mp3 players, new sonic technologies have received a great deal of attention from the press, but, Professor Sterne points out, there is still no robust scholarly account of why the sound heard through those technologies sounds the way that it does. Without that knowledge, we have no basis from which to critique the contemporary soundscape. With this research project, Professor Sterne will analyze and historicize the "background" sound technologies that condition audio before it is heard by its audiences. The aim of the project is to develop a theoretical and historical account of the role of modeling in the design of background audio technologies. His research will include undertaking a project of "philosophical reverse engineering", where technologies are conceptually dismembered to reveal the norms, biases, politics and cultural sensibilities that they contain. Graduate students working with Professor Sterne will gain experience in research design and execution, collection and interpretation of primary source documents, and the organization of research results for scholarly presentation. The results of this research project will be communicated through a series of conference papers and journal articles, leading up to a scholarly book on the politics and aesthetics of digital audio.
Key words: sound, technology, new media, cultural studies