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Strategic Grants 2008

Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences in Canada

Michael Cowan, German Studies
William Straw, Art History and Communication Studies

Image, Text, and Sound Technology (ITST)

Catherine Bradley, English

International Opportunities Fund

Grace Fong, East Asian Studies
Marianne Stenbaek, English

Northern Research Development Program

Wendy Thomson, Social Work

Research Development Initiatives (RDI)

Lucyna Lach, Social Work


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Michael Cowan
Street takes: streets and roads in contemporary European cinemas
Amount awarded: $19,147

Building on recent scholarly interest in the emergence of a "new European cinema" since 1989, this conference, to be held at McGill in September 2008, will investigate the contributions of European film to the articulation of a new European imaginary through an exploration of a key film-historical topos: the street. Streets and roads constitute one of the most self-reflexively charged spaces in film history. By focusing on the intense preoccupation with streets, roads, highways and movement in contemporary European film, this conference will identify new paradigms for analyzing and understanding European cinema in the wake of the social, political and media transformations of the past two decades.

Text courtesy of the conference website.

Key words: film history, film theory, media, European studies


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William Straw
The intermedial city: practices, technologies and imaginaries
Amount awarded: $20,000

Through historical analyses or studies of today's urban landscape, this conference, to be held at McGill in October 2008, seeks to explore how media exchanges and encounters effectuate urban spaces and cultures. The organizers propose three main axes that focus on how distinct media practices form collective groups through disparate networks and infrastructures: defining the limits of the city conceived as a cultural or political space; how new communications technologies, each with its own signifying modes and spatial logics, reconfigure the medial dimension necessary to urban circulation and integration; and how these medial shifts affect city dwellers' perceptions and apperceptions, making possible new imaginaries and new forms of subjective experience.

Text courtesy of the conference website.

Key words: intermediality, media theory, urbanism, architecture, public space


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Catherine Bradley
Digital Design: An innovative approach to theatrical costume rendering and illustration
Amount awarded: $50,000

Are digitally-created costume designs an improvement upon traditional hand-drawn sketches or are they just a fad that caters to our fascination with technology? Catherine Bradley and her team of students and researchers, including Professor Nathalie Cooke from the Department of English, hope to answer this question as they set out to develop, test and make accessible an innovative technological tool, to be used to create digital drawings for costume designs and book illustrations. They expect that the use of digital photography as a starting point will allow those without artistic training to produce high-quality illustrations and that the method as a whole will be simple enough to be used by those without prior training in computer graphics. The project will include testing the method with costuming students at McGill and eventually, the creation of actual costumes from scratch using digital designs, to be featured at two main-stage English Department productions. Upon completion, they plan to share the developed digital technology by creating a website which will allow designers, scholars, and the general public to benefit from their digital design method. The findings will also be presented at the national conference of the Canadian Institute of Theatre Technology.

Key words: digital illustration, digital costume design, book illustration


Grace Fong
Integrating across space, time, and gender in the humanities for Chinese literary, historical and geographical databases
Amount awarded: $74,830

With the potential of the World Wide Web for seamless information exchange, Professor Fong and her team of students and international researchers, including Professor Renée Sieber from the McGill Department of Geography, believe that this project occurs at a pivotal moment in the development of Chinese geographic, historical and literary databases. Bridging computing and the Chinese humanities to create the next generation of digital information integration and access, the project also aims to produce possibilities for new knowledge on historical Chinese women writers and proposes to integrate three databases: the McGill-Harvard-Yenching Library Ming Qing Women's Writings database (MQWW), the first China Biographical Database (CBDB, in progress) and the pioneering online China Historical Geographical Information System (CHGIS). According to Professor Fong, the project will be the first application of distributed database design within Asian Studies, historical research, and in the humanities in general. This application will enable innovative research on Chinese women's literary culture and the resulting integration framework will have a significant impact on Canadian and international research on women and gender in relation to geospatial data.

Key words: Chinese women writers; Geographical Information Science (GIS); Chinese literacy; biographical, historical, and geographical databases; semantic interoperability


Marianne Stenbaek
Looking to the past, learning for the future: the traditional knowledge collection of H.C. Petersen
Amount awarded: $60,000

The Greenlander H.C. Petersen has systematically documented traditional knowledge from all over Greenland since 1945. Professor Stenbaek believes that his collection constitutes a unique compilation of data and traditional knowledge which is invaluable for present day climate change and cultural research, and that this is a rare opportunity for researchers to gain access to data spanning the 20th century. The collection offered to Professor Stenbaek is extremely rare. With her IOF grant, Professor Stenbaek will oversee the translation, categorization, and preservation of the collection in order to make major parts of it available in an electronic database and publications. In all, the material comprises 21 linear feet of written material plus 180 hours of taped observations, approximately 3,000 slides, photos and drawings, most of which were made by Petersen himself. The collection also includes writings on his findings as well as sound recordings. A visual database will be constructed at UQAM, led by Professor Daniel Chartier. The international research team includes researchers in Canada, Greenland and Denmark. The project will afford student assistants a chance to work on a multidisciplinary project which interfaces human and social sciences with natural sciences, as well as giving them practical skills in database conceptualization and construction, preparing manuscripts for publication and organizing an international seminar. Professor Stenbaek sees the opportunity presented by Petersen as a rare chance for Canadian researchers to translate, assess, characterize and present to the international research community a data set with wide-ranging scientific importance and one which also offers a unique interface between human/social sciences and the natural sciences.

Key words: traditional knowledge, global warming, climate change, ecology, culture, settlement patterns, Inuit, Greenland


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Wendy Thomson
Community capability and development in Nunavik
Amount awarded: $40,000

Professor Thomson's pilot study on social inclusion policies in Nunavik has two complementary components that will explore Inuit residents' experiences with and perceptions of social inclusion policies. The research activities will include data collection through 15 to 20 semi-structured interviews with community leaders and policy makers and through two community conversations. Professor Thomson and her team, including Vanda Sinha and Oonagh Aitken of the McGill School of Social Work, graduate students and community researchers, believe that both the interviews and community conversations will engage residents and policy makers in discussions. Researchers will ask interviewees and community residents about their understandings of social problems and communal capability to address them, the effectiveness of current policies which address these social problems and the fit between Inuit culture and existing social policies. They anticipate that their research will reveal a mismatch between social inclusion-based policies and the realities of life in Nunavik's Inuit communities and their goal is to explore strategies that community members use to negotiate this mismatch and possibilities for alternate policy approaches.

Key words: Nunavik, Inuit, social policy, social inclusion, social exclusion


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Lucyna Lach
Parenting Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions and Disabilities
Amount awarded: $39,983

The primary goals of Professor Lach's research project are to gain a thorough understanding of the conceptual and empirical literature as well as the measures used to study the parenting of children and adolescents with chronic health conditions and disabilities (CHCD), to critically analyze and evaluate this research using standardized procedures, and to use this knowledge to articulate specific research questions that will guide this new area of inquiry. These objectives will be achieved through a research synthesis that follows a well-established, internationally recognized protocol and addresses a set of research questions. Professor Lach, along with her collaborators, partners and graduate student assistants will generate a synthesis of quantitative and qualitative studies by following an internationally recognized protocol for conducting a literature search, retrieval, appraisal and synthesis. The response to each of the three main questions will be addressed in four articles. One will summarize and critique theoretical principles that guide current studies. A second will report on key findings from the critical appraisal of the quantitative and qualitative literature. The third paper will describe the measures used to study parenting. A final paper will synthesize the qualitative findings.

Key words: parenting, child, adolescent, disability, chronic health conditions, systematic review

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