English Alums profiled for McGill news articles

Published: 31 January 2024

The McGill Reporter profiled recent grad Mai Kutsuna (BASc’23)Mai, who majored in both drama and theatre and chemistry through the interfaculty Bachelor of Arts and Science program, spoke of the opportunity to combine her unique interests.

The flexibility of her double major was also a big draw. Other programs Kutsuna was looking at were rigid. She wanted the chance to explore her interests and take time to figure out her path in life. “I am so happy I got to study both [chemistry and theatre],” she says. “During the school year, if I would get stressed about my chemistry work, I could escape into my theatre assignments, and vice-versa.”

Shailee Rajak (MA'23) sat down with Arts News to discuss her recent book My Story, My Voice: Sita and Helen. This graphic novel intertwines the mythological tales of two heroines, Helen of Troy, from Homer’s the Iliad, and Sita, a Hindu goddess from the Hindu epic Ramayana whose stories have historically been shadowed by those of their male counterparts. Shailee spoke to Arts News about the origins of the book project, which began in a seminar on public scholarship taken during her MA. 

To be perfectly honest, this book would not have existed without the encouragement and support of my professor, Dr Paul Yachnin, in McGill’s Department of English. Last year, I was part of a Public Scholarship seminar led by him. He prompted us, as academics and scholars, to think of the various ways in which we could translate our ideas and knowledge into public facing projects.

Researchers are infamous for using difficult jargon that nobody beyond academia can really understand. So, the question is, how do we bridge this gap between academic work and the public? I have studied what patriarchy is, I know its history, how it functions in our society, its effects, and contemporary consequences. Through this seminar, I was taught to find different ways to translate this knowledge beyond simply writing papers for academic journals. The entire cohort was given some funding to collaborate with artists across disciplines as we developed our various ideas ranging from websites and podcasts to art installations. Sita and Helen developed as part of my final assignment for this seminar. And I was perfectly okay to forget about it and move on once I received a good grade too. But Prof. Yachnin urged me to reach out to publishers, and his belief in my work was infectious to say the least.

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