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Alumni News 

AHCS graduates enact changes within the academy and far beyond it. If you are an alum of the Department and would like to share news about your work, please contact caitlin.loney [at] mcgill.ca (Caitlin Loney).


Yasmine Nachabe Taan

December 5, 2020

Yasmine Nachabe Taan Yasmine Nachabe Taan is Associate Professor in visual culture at the Lebanese American University. She is currently Visiting Professor at Bilkent University in Turkey. She received the Design History Society research grant to complete the writing of Abdulkader Arnaout: Designing as Visual Poetry (2017). She is the author of Saloua Raouda Choucair: Modern Arab Design (2019), and Hilmi el-Tuni, Evoking Popular Arab Culture (2014). Nachabe Taan is on the Editorial Board for Design and Culture.

Her recent publication, Reading Marie al-Khazen’s Photographs (2020) is an interdisciplinary study at the intersection of photography and gender studies in the middle east. Reading Marie al-Khazen’s Photographs is the first full-length study of an Arab woman photographer published in English. This research is important because there is little scholarly work done on photography in the Middle East, and even less on women photographers. It focuses on gender representation in the photographs of Marie al-Khazen, a Lebanese amateur photographer, and Karimeh Abbud, a professional photographer in Palestine during the period between the 1920s and 1930s. It provides a feminist reading of the images by analyzing the female photographer’s depiction of ‘modernity’ around Lebanon. By locating photographic practices within a particular cultural context, this book builds on earlier and more contemporary contributions to the study of photography in the Middle East. One of its unique contributions is to suggest new approaches to understanding the complexities of gender relations at the turn of last century in upper-class Lebanese society, by studying the life and works of an indigenous photographer of this rarefied social background.

Nachabe Taan received the FRQSC fund to complete her PhD research in Communication Studies at McGill University when she started her research on Marie al-Khazen’s Photographs (2007-2012) under the supervision of Will Straw and Michelle Hartman.


Yongwoo Lee

June 20, 2020

Yongwoo Lee (Communication Studies PhD, 2010) is a media historian and cultural studies scholar. He was recently appointed Research Associate Professor in the Critical Global Studies Institute at Sogang University, Seoul, Korea. His primary research and teaching interests focus on media and cultural studies of modern Korea, race, gender and animal studies, cultural history of collective memory and trauma in East Asia, material culture and sensorial modernity, intellectual history of wartime Japan and postwar Korea, Korean contemporary art, and post/colonial historiography. Yongwoo Lee was Assistant professor/faculty fellow at the Department of East Asian Studies at New York University (2015-2018), joint postdoctoral fellowship at Leiden University’s IIAS (International Institute for Asian Studies) in Netherlands and Singapore’s ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (Institute of South East Asian Studies) (2014-2015), Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Society for the Humanities at Cornell University (2010-2012) and Research Fellow in Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo (2006-2007). He was a Senior Researcher at the Asia Culture Institute, Asia Culture Center of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea (2013-2014). He also served as curator for <Asian Diva: The Muse and The Monster> (2017, Seoul Museum of Art, co-curated), the 1st Anren Biennale (2017, guest curator), Para Site’s <Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs> (2016-2017, guest curator), and Robert Mapplethorpe Retrospective (2020, forthcoming).

His writings have been published in a number of books, journals and catalogs, including Superhumanity (University of Minnesota, 2018), 2 Oder 3 Tiger: Koloniale Geschichten, Medien Und Moderne (Matthes & Seitz Berlin, 2017), Black Mat Oriole (ROMA publications, 2019), Divided We Stand: 9th Busan Biennale 2018 (Sternberg Press, 2019), Hyundae Munhak (現代文學, 2017), and Asian Cinema journal. He is currently revising two book manuscripts, (1) Embedded Voices in Between Empires: The Cultural Formation of Korean Popular Music in Modern Times, which explores the historical trajectory of colonial mentalities and the genealogy of cultural modernities and Americanization in South Korea by recontextualizing popular music as a narrative of collective memories and mass trauma; and (2) Asian Divas: The Voices of Acoustic Modernities in Asia. His new book project aims to explore multifarious ways in which colonialism, Americanism, and Cold War fascism in East Asia shape modern Korean society and material culture and how postwar cultural forms and their representations were shaped and invented by various hegemonies--dictatorial governance, the implicit Japanese colonial legacy, and American military rule during the Cold War era chief among them--by examining South Korean popular songs, female performers and propaganda films in the 1960s and 1970s.


Susana Vargas Cervantes

May 12, 2020

Susana Vargas Cervantes writes, researches and teaches. Her research mines the connections between gender, sexuality, class and skin tonalities to reconceptualize pigmentocracy. She is the author of the book The Little Old Lady Killer: The Sensationalized Crimes of Mexico's First Female Serial Killer (NYU Press, 2019) and Mujercitos (Editorial RM, 2015). She is currently a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at Columbia University and starting July 2020 will join the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University as an Assistant Professor. Susana received her PhD in Communication Studies at McGill in 2013 under the supervision of Will Straw. 

Website: https://susanisima.com


Caroline Bem

April 9, 2020

Starting May 2020, Caroline Bem is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Communications at Saint Paul University, Ottawa. Prior to joining Saint Paul, Caroline was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Turku within the Academy of Finland funded research project Sexuality and Play in Media Culture. In 2016-2018, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow within the German-Canadian research training group IRTG: Diversity. During this time, she was based at Université de Montréal, where she also taught graduate seminars on digital media theory and cinema.

Caroline conducted her doctoral work under the supervision of Will Straw and defended her thesis in late 2015. Since then, her research has focused on the interplay between the materiality, ethics, and aesthetics of media forms, which she examines through close engagement with films, video games, visual artworks, as well as narrative texts. Alongside this work, she is also invested in theorizing the emergence of relatively recent theoretical currents, such as intermediality and the New Formalism, and in contributing to the conversation on the place and future of the humanities within the contemporary academy. Her articles have appeared in Screen and JCMS, and in edited collections. She is the editor of a special issue of Intermédialités titled “Mapping (Intermediality)” (Fall 2017-Spring 2018) and the co-editor, with Susanna Paasonen, of the special issue “Play!” of Sexualities, forthcoming in 2020. Currently, she is at work on two book projects. “The Diptych: A Moveable Form” (manuscript near completion) will offer the first detailed account of the diptych in the arts, book culture, and time-based media, as well as within philosophical and political systems of thought. “Feeling Playing Sex” will examine the aesthetic, affective and political significance of a range of playable pornographic objects


Isabelle Masse

November 13, 2019

Isabelle Masse received her Ph.D. in art history in 2019 and is currently pursuing a two-year FRQSC postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA Department of Art History (2019–21). She specializes in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century drawing, particularly pastel, and holds additional expertise in contemporary photography. Building on experience as a professional portrait painter, her academic research highlights the significance of the medium, and materiality broadly speaking, in the analysis of portraiture.

Her postdoctoral project “Itinerant Portraitists in North America: Mobility, Practice, Transmission, 1776–1812” examines the production and commercialization of portraiture in light of migratory movements. It explores the practices of three artists who traveled across North America between 1776 and 1812: John Ramage (ca.1748–1802), Eliab Metcalf (1785–1834), and Gerrit Schipper (1770/75–1825). Diverging from portraiture historiographical tradition, this book-length study raises questions related to specific concerns of art makers, including art techniques, transport logistics, and promotional strategies. It shows how the constraints and freedoms inherent to nomadism defined portrait practices, and with them, the artworks themselves. Concurrently, this project traces nascent Canadian-American cultural interaction through the lens of artist mobility and develops a perspective that emphasizes the role of materiality as a driving force of globalization.

Isabelle Masse’s research has been published in the peer-reviewed journals RACAR and Journal of Canadian Art History, and presented at conferences, such as those of the College Art Association (CAA), the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association (NCSA), and the International, American, and Canadian Societies for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS, ASECS, CSECS). Recently, in preparation for her book manuscript on itinerant artists, she undertook archival work at the American Antiquarian Society with the support of a Last Fellowship. Further research funded by an ASECS-Clark Fellowship will be carried out in the upcoming months at the UCLA Clark Library.


Owen Martin

March 13, 2019

Owen Martin is currently Chief Curator at Norval Foundation (Cape Town, South Africa), a new centre for 20th and 21st century art, and a trustee of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation. As part of his role at Norval Foundation, Martin completed a survey of South African artist Wim Botha in 2018, a major commission of Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama in 2019, and oversees the institution's curatorial affairs. Both exhibitions are accompanied by a catalogue. Previously, he was Registrar and Curator at Zeitz MOCAA (Cape Town, South Africa), Curatorial Assistant at Zeitz Collection (Cape Town, South Africa) and Project Manager, Arts, British Council (London, UK).

Owen graduated in 2015 with a Master's in Art History under the supervision of Prof. Angela Vanhaelen.


Tomasz Grusiecki

December 6, 2018

Since August 2018, Tomasz Grusiecki is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Boise State University. Prior to joining Boise State, he was EMS Junior Research Fellow / FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Central European University in Budapest.

Tomasz received his PhD in Art History from McGill in 2017, under the supervision of Prof. Angela Vanhaelen with the thesis “Globalising the Periphery: Poland-Lithuania and Cultural Entanglement, 1587–1668”

His article, 'Foreign as Native: Baltic Amber in Florence' (World Art 7, no. 1 (2017): 3-36), was the winner of the 2018 Emerging Scholars Publication Prize from the Historians of German, Scandinavian and Central European Art.


Hannah McElgunn

November 6, 2018

Since graduating from the Communication Studies (MA) program, Hannah has been working on a PhD at the University of Chicago. She is currently a joint PhD Candidate in the Departments of Anthropology and Linguistics. Having returned from 18 months of fieldwork on Hopi territory in Northeastern Arizona and the surrounding region, she is currently working on her dissertation “Language at the Center of the Universe”. This project brings together ethnographic and archival work to investigate how actors with different, and often competing, ideas about property and knowledge are brought into relation through their claims to “safeguard” the Hopi language. She is committed to working collaboratively with Hopi colleagues through the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.

Hannah defended her MA thesis “The discursive (re)production and transformation of social life at the occupy wall street general assembly” in 2012 under the supervision of Prof. Becky Lentz and Prof. Will Straw.


Liana Bellon

October 4, 2018

Liana Bellon has been teaching in the Department of English at Dawson College since 2003. After receiving tenure in 2008, she began teaching in the Liberal Arts program, as well as in the Literature Profile. Liana defended her doctoral thesis, "Souvenirs of Venice: Reproduced views, tourism, and city spaces," under the supervision of Prof. Angela Vanhaelen in 2016. Liana incorporates her doctoral work in classes that include a study of travel literature and literature set in Venice, and, more broadly, in courses on Romantic, Decadent, and Modernist texts.


Isadora Hellegren

September 18, 2018

Communication Studies graduate Isadora Hellegren is leading the development of Goto 10, a space for internet related knowledge exchange and innovation at the Internet Foundation in Sweden (IIS). IIS is an independent non-profit organization that promotes the development of the internet and internet usage. She takes interest in knowledge sharing of and through internet-specific technologies, culture, and governance.

Isadora's graduate research in Communication Studies at McGill University focused on the historic, cultural, and political dimensions of representations of encryption software in relation to internet freedom. She graduated from her MA in 2016 with the thesis "Deciphering Crypto-Discourse: Articulations of Internet Freedom in Relation to the State", written under the supervision of Prof. Becky Lentz. Prior to her graduate studies, Isadora led and managed human rights and technology related projects at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Canada’s leading research and advocacy institute for genocide and mass atrocity crimes prevention.

Isadora is the author of A History of Crypto-Discourse: Encryption as a Site of Struggles to Define Internet Freedom (2017), and occasionally gives presentations and public lectures on related matters. She is also the elected Chair of Communication Committee and Member of Steering Committee at the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet).


Lorenzo Vargas

August 29, 2018

Lorenzo Vargas is a Communication for Development Specialist and researcher on citizens’ media. Lorenzo coordinates the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)’s Communication for Social Change programme, which supports community media and citizen journalism initiatives in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Prior to joining WACC, Lorenzo worked with the Mosaic Institute in Toronto as a programme manager and strategic communication advisor.

Lorenzo completed his MA in Communication Studies in 2014 with the thesis: “Producing Citizenship in Contexts of Conflict: Citizenship Practices Among Youth Participating in Save the Children’s Media Production Programs in Colombia”, under the supervision of Prof. Becky Lentz and Prof. Jenny Burman.


Cheryl Thompson

July 27, 2018

In 2018, Dr. Cheryl Thompson joined the School of Creative Industries as Assistant Professor, Faculty of Communication & Design at Ryerson University. She earned her PhD in Communication Studies at McGill under the co-supervision of Dr. Will Straw and Dr. Charmaine Nelson. Her first book, Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture will be published with Wilfrid Laurier Press in March 2019. Based on her dissertation research, this book is one of the first transnational, feminist studies of Canada’s black beauty culture and the role that media, retail, and consumers have played in its development. 

Prior to her position at Ryerson, Cheryl was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018) in the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto and the Dept. of English and Drama at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her project aimed to elucidate the system of meaning in blackface minstrelsy’s theatrical playbills, portraits, photographs, illustrations, and visual ephemera outside the traditional theatre in the spaces and places of nation-building during Canada’s modern period, 1890s to 1950s. Cheryl's essays have appeared in The Ward Uncovered: The Archaeology of Everyday Life (2018), Emergent Feminisms: Challenging a Post-Feminist Media Culture (2018), the Journal of Canadian Studies, Canadian Journal of History Annales canadiennes d'histoire (CJH/ACH), and Feminist Media StudiesIn 2017, Cheryl also gave a TEDx Talk, titled “Why Positive Thinking is Not Enough.” 


Leah Clark

June 21, 2018

Art History graduate Leah Clark's new book Collecting Art in the Italian Renaissance Court: Objects and Exchanges will be out on June 28th with Cambridge. In this book, Clark examines collecting practices across the Italian Renaissance courts, exploring the circulation, exchange, collection, and display of objects. Rather than focusing on patronage strategies or the political power of individual collectors, she uses the objects themselves to elucidate the dynamic relationships formed through their exchange. The book is based on her PhD thesis "Value and symbolic practices: objects, exchanges, and associations in the Italian courts (1450-1500)", which was written under the supervision of Bronwen Wilson and Angela Vanhaelen and won both the McGill K.B. Jenckes and McGill Faculty of Arts Insights Dissertation Awards. Leah Clark currently teaches Art History at The Open University. 
 


Kat Borlongan

May 25, 2018

Credit: La Tribune
Communication Studies graduate Kat Borlongan has been appointed as new director of Mission French Tech. Kat completed her MA in 2011 with the thesis "Frontline: NGOs and the Changing Nature of News Witnessing in Disaster and Conflict Zones", written under the supervision of Prof. Becky Lentz.

Read the article in La Tribune. 

 


Sonia Del Re

October 12, 2017

Sonia Del Re is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Arts at McGill University (2003), a Master’s of Museology from the Université de Montréal (2005), and a Ph.D. in Art History from McGill University (2014). Written under the supervision of Prof. Angela Vanhaelen and Prof. Bronwen Wilson (now at UCLA), her doctoral dissertation focused on half-length single-figured paintings by the Utrecht Caravaggists and little-known prints of the 1620s after these. Sonia joined the curatorial team of the National Gallery in 2006 as Curatorial Assistant.

She is now responsible for the care, growth, display, interpretation, and publication of a collection of about 25,000 works on paper created on three continents over the span of six centuries, providing her with an extraordinary range of periods, schools, styles, techniques and materials to study. Sonia, who was elected to the Print Council of America in 2016, has developed Canada’s national collection through the acquisition of drawings by Giacomo Balla, Vincenzo Camuccini, Camille Corot, M.C. Escher, Théodore Géricault, Anne-Louis Girodet, Laurent de La Hyre, Charles Le Brun, Christoph Heinrich Kniep, George Frederic Watts, Johan Wierix, and Claude François, the first professional artist to have come from Europe to paint in Canada, in 1670. Her recent contributions to the collection of prints include celebrated etchings by Rembrandt, and large groups of sheets by engraver Claude Mellan and etcher Jean-Jacques de Boissieu.

Sonia has curated multiple exhibitions showcasing the national collection that have traveled across the country: Beautiful Monsters: Beasts and Fantastic Creatures in Early European Prints; Storms and Bright Skies: Three Centuries of Dutch Landscapes; The Noble Art of the Carracci and Their School; Chagall’s Daphnis & Chloé; M. C. Escher: The Mathemagician (as Coordinating Curator); and Picasso: Man and Beast. The Vollard Suite of Prints. Based on an important gift of British 19th-century drawings, her exhibition Beauty's Awakening: Drawings by the Pre-Raphaelites and Their Contemporaries from the Lanigan Collection, for which she edited the catalogue, travelled across the Atlantic to Leighton House Museum in London, England. Her forthcoming project, Vittoria, Veronese and Tiepolo: Masters of Venetian Portraiture, draws on the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.

 


Christina Smylitopoulos

June 19, 2017

​Dr. Christina Smylitopoulos is Associate Professor of Art History in the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph. She earned her PhD in AHCS under the supervision of Dr. Richard Taws (UCL) in 2011. Winner of the Arts Insight Dissertation Award, Christina’s dissertation considered eighteenth-century British graphic satire and the British colonial project in India. She is currently working on a book about the publisher, print and book seller Thomas Tegg’s early nineteenth-century intervention in British graphic satire. Tegg was a major patron and producer of British graphic satire, yet his commercial interest in the genre has prevented him from being considered a serious figure in book and art history. He was pejoratively dubbed a “pioneer” of publishing because his motivation in the trade was in selling books and not in “the encouragement of authors” (The Times, 1848). Christina’s book will reposition his work, currently characterized as cheap products from an opportunistic publisher, to what closer study reveals them to be: collaborative multimedia objects of critical art intended for a new audience, with a surprising reach of influence.

Prior to her position at Guelph, Christina was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Yale Center for British Art, a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellow and a Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Junior Fellow. She has received research grants from, among others, the Huntington Library, the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon (Library of Congress), and the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Her essays have appeared in Revue d'art canadienne/Canadian Art Review (RACAR); The British Art Journal, Eighteenth-Century Life, and Word and Image in the Long Eighteenth Century: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue; she has reviewed for Oxford Art Journal, RACAR, The Historian, and caa.reviews. Christina has an essay in L. Hannan and P.J. Corfield (eds), Hats Off, Gentlemen: The Changing Arts of Communication in the Eighteenth Century (edited collection forthcoming with Les Éditions Honoré Champion, 2016) and an edited collection Agents of Space: Eighteenth-Century Art, Architecture, and Visual Culture (forthcoming with CSP, 2016). An award winning teacher (College of Arts; Teaching Excellence Award, 2014-2015), Christina delivers graduate and undergraduate courses on art and architecture of the long eighteenth century (1680s-1830s) and art historiography. 

 


Danielle Shapiro

June 2, 2017

Danielle Shapiro photo Danielle Shapiro is the author of John Vassos: Industrial Design for Modern Life (Minnesota, 2016). The book centers on John Vassos (1898-1985), a Greek American artist and pioneering industrial designer who specialized in designing forms for media technologies which had no prior shape. More than a half century before the touch screen, Vassos enthused over the tactile experience of using a radio and a television. His drawings of hands touching knobs and his writings on the radio dial reveal his focus on the intuition of how we communicate with our machines. Vassos understood that the act of radio listening engaged a broad ensemble of senses. Based on her dissertation in Communication Studies written under the supervision of Prof. Will Straw, Danielle’s book explores the broader relationship between Vassos’s work and American culture. By historicizing the birth of the media he designed, the book stimulates thinking about how media devices have entered as much the home as the broadcast studio. Danielle will be speaking at the New York Public Library about her book on June 14 at 6pm.

Since completing her PhD in AHCS in 2005, Danielle has held a teaching fellowship at Harvard University, a Fulbright Award, postdoctoral fellowships at the Archives of American Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and at the Wolfsonian Museum. From 2008 to 2014, she was a Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities where she oversaw grant projects for museum exhibitions and documentary films with strong humanities scholarship. She was a curatorial assistant at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Museum of Design, which spawned her career long interest in industrial design. Among other venues, her work has appeared in Design Issues, the Archives of American Art Journal, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Photography, and the Encyclopedia of Documentary Film. She is particularly excited about a new project of an exhibit of John Vassos’s work, possibly at a Smithsonian Museum. 

 


Gretchen King

June 30, 2015

 This fall, Gretchen King will begin a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Geneviève A. Bonin at Université d'Ottawa, sponsored by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC). Under the supervision of Prof. Becky Lentz, Gretchen has written a dissertation entitled "The radical pedagogy of community radio: the case of Radio al-Balad 92.4 FM, community media audiences and political change in Jordan."

Evolved from her PhD thesis, Gretchen’s post-doctoral project is “Listening to community radio audiences: assessing the impact of community broadcasting and cultivating the sustainability of local news in Canada.” The project foregrounds the significant role that Canada has played since the 1920s in the community broadcasting sector. Described as the birthplace of community radio, Canada now boasts some two hundred community radio stations operating as participatory, non-profit media institutions providing access to radio. While an influential report commissioned by Heritage Canada in 2007 stressed the significant role played by community radio in expressing dissenting views, providing opportunities for community participation in content-production and other public goods, that report also neglected the inclusion of audience perspectives or any rigorous assessment of impact—a serious lacuna.

Gretchen’s post-doctoral research will prioritize the perspectives of listeners, whose experiences are vital to ascertaining how effective community radio stations have been in producing community news programming and thus fulfilling its official mandate of “meeting the needs and interests of the communities served.” Aimed at audiences both within and far beyond the academy, the project will provide the first in-depth, qualitative data on the impact of community radio on civic engagement in Canada by analyzing personal narratives contributed by audiences, interviews facilitated among community radio news producers, and completed station surveys. Second, Gretchen will generate DIY-type audience research tools and listener engagement recommendations through which community radio stations can be more accountable to listeners and funders. Third, the project will yield a sustainable framework and best practices for cultivating accessible and inclusive community radio news programming based on the experiences of listeners, producers, and station staff. Finally, Gretchen will submit her research on the impact community radio on civic participation in Canada for publication in academic journals including the Canadian Journal of Communication and Global Media and Communication.

             

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