JHI Fellowships

The heart of the Jackman Humanities Institute is its Circle of Fellows, a group of scholars at every level from undergraduate to faculty, who are chosen for the excellence of their research and for its relevance to the Annual Theme. Fellows hold private offices (or in the case of undergraduate fellows, carrels) in a quiet, shared enclave; they attend a weekly lunch to hear one of their members or an invited guest discuss their research; they organize events for the group such as tours, reading groups, and informal parties; and they talk. In the process of sharing their projects and the contours of their various disciplines, they find new ways to conceptualize their work, discover resources, and force each other to think beyond disciplinary assumptions to the wider goal of how their project addresses the Humanities as a whole.

This page provides information about current fellows.

For fellowship applications, please see Calls for Funding.

The Circle of Fellows, 2019-2020 | Annual Theme: Strange Weather

Community-Engaged Early Career Fellow

Khaled Abu Jayyab

Khaled Abu Jayyab (Ph.D. Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto, 2019) recently completed doctoral research titled “Nomads in late Chalcolithic Mesopotamia: Mobility and Social Change in the 5th and 4th Millennium BC” based in extensive archaeological research conducted in the Republic of Georgia on the origins of viticulture and wine production. His work has regularly brought him into engagement with government agencies in Canada and Georgia, museum partnerships, media outreach initiatives with public school students.

What I'm working on

Landscape Archaeology and Human Adaptation to Changing Environmental Conditions during late prehistory in the southeastern Caucasus

While at the Jackman Humanities Institute Khaled will work to teach the public about archaeology and environmental change. His research focuses on diachronically understanding human responses to changes in environmental conditions through changes in settlement organization and subsistence strategies, bringing a time-depth perspective to discussions of contemporary climate change.

About this fellowship

The Community-Engaged Early Career fellowship is offered for the first time in 2019-2020 as a component of the research project, Humanities at Large, which was generously funded for three years by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The fellowship is designed to enable knowledge transfer in and out of the academy, and during his year with the JHI, Khaled will be engaged in some of the the pillar activities outlined in this project, along with his own research.

Chancellor Jackman Faculty Research Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Alan Ackerman

FAS English and FAS Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies

Alan Ackerman (Ph.D. Harvard University 1997) is Professor of English. His primary areas of teaching are American Literature and Modern Drama. He is the author Just Words: Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and the Failure of Public Conversation in America (Yale University Press, 2011), Seeing Things, from Shakespeare to Pixar (University of Toronto Press, 2011), and The Portable Theater: American Literature and the Nineteenth-Century Stage (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).  He is also the editor of numerous books in the field of modern drama and theatre.  From 2005 to 2015, he served as Editor of the journal Modern Drama.  His current research is in the field of environmental humanities and focuses on literary and cultural aspects of the rise of fossil fuels as a major energy source in the nineteenth century.  Professor Ackerman holds a joint-appointment in the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies.


What I'm working on

Energy and Economy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

My research focuses on the cultural significance of fossil fuels and the ecological unfeasibility of high-carbon life. I will examine how specific ways of using energy shape culture and vice versa, in three main directions:

  1. the transition in 19th-century America from an economy fuelled by wood, water, whales, horses, and enslaved African Americans to one powered by fossil fuels with climatological impacts;
  2. dialogue about the environment across the disciplines and beyond the university; and
  3. bringing ecocriticism to students via experiential and embodied learning.

Chancellor Jackman Faculty Research Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Ben Akrigg

FAS Classics

Ben Akrigg (Ph.D. University of Cambridge, 2006) is Associate Professor of Classics. His research has focussed on the economic history and historical demography of the ancient Greek world. He has taught courses at undergraduate and graduate levels in Greek language and literature, and in ancient history and material culture. For the past two years he has also taught undergraduate courses on humanities approaches to energy and energy history within the School of the Environment. He is currently the editor of Phoenix, a journal of the Classical Association of Canada, and one of the oldest humanities journals in Canada.

What I'm working on

Energy, Economy, and Environment in Ancient Athens

This project will investigate the history of energy in the ancient city-state of Athens in the first millennium BC. I aim to advance our understanding of Athens’ economic, social and environmental history, and to contribute to contemporary discussions about energy transitions and about the interactions between human beings and their environments. Ancient Athens remains an important focus of discussion on the interactions between economic development, political institutions, and cultural production. None of these can be understood separately from the prevailing energy technologies and their environmental impacts.

JHI Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Aisha Assan-Lebbe

Aisha is studying American Studies, Geography and History at the University of Toronto.  She holds the Jukka-Pekka Saraste Undergraduate Award in the Humanities.  Her research project at the Jackman Humanities Institute is supervised by Professor Mark Cheetham (FAS Art History).


What I'm working on

Continental America and Nineteenth-Century Atmospheric Milieu

New Media and Public Humanities Early Career Fellow

Stephanie Bernhard

Stephanie Bernhard (Ph.D. English, University of Virginia, 2017) is Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University, where she specializes in the environmental humanities. Her current work-in-progress is a monograph titled Modernist Farming: Writing the Rural Cosmopolitan in the Long Twentieth Century.  She recently published “Climate Change as Chronic Crisis in Ben Lerner’s 10:04” in Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, and she also brings substantial experience in writing for the public sphere as a blogger and published essayist in Slate, Orion, and the LA Review of Books.


What I'm working on

Writing Species History in an Era of Climate Change

Stephanie’s project at the Jackman Humanities Institute will be a series of public-facing essays showcasing her current research on texts that narrate stories of the human species from ancient epics such as Gilgamesh and the Aeneid to contemporary science fiction, including Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction, to scholarly attempts to define a newly human-dominated geological era. She argues that the urgent threat of anthropogenic climate change compels a re-envisioning of the origins, traits, purposes of, and divisions within humans as a species.



Digital Humanities Network Postdoctoral Fellow

Andrew S. Brown

Andrew S. Brown (Ph.D. English, Yale University, 2019) has recently completed doctoral research titled “Artificial Persons: Fictions of Representation in Early Modern Drama”, which asks: how did the stage contribute to the idea that we can authorize people not just to speak and act on our behalf, but to stand in for us and take on aspects of our very personhood? Andrew’s approach sits at the intersection of two fields: the history of the book and the digital humanities. Examining plays alongside imaginative prose, legal texts, corporate documents, and theological treatises, he argues that Renaissance drama can reinvigorate our sense of what it means (and how it feels) to be represented and to represent others in turn. Andrew’s other research interests include gender and sexuality studies, law and literature, religious toleration, and the history of Shakespearean performance and editing. He has written on these topics for the journals Studies in Philology, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Milton Studies, and Early Theatre; the edited collection Shakespeare and Consciousness; and the Marginalia Review of Books.  

What I'm working on

Water, Waste, and Rising Seas in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Andrew’s fellowship research project uses text mining and mapping tools in order to track how the inhabitants of the early modern Atlantic world developed a new conception of water as a crucial form of infrastructure: that is, as an urban resource that must be carefully managed, and which could also be fatally corrupted. It puts particular pressure on those sites and moments when environmental and climatic disruptions appear to threaten this infrastructure. He has begun this research with a preliminary case study based on a single London historical archive, and he anticipates that the project will also extend to a series of sites from the colonial Americas.

Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman Graduate Fellow in the Humanities

Judith Ellen Brunton

Judith Ellen Brunton is a doctoral candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion.


What I'm working on

A Pandemonium of Hope: Oil, aspiration, and the good life in Alberta

Judith’s research explores how oil companies, government agencies, and community organizations in Alberta use oil to describe a set of values about land use, labour, and aspiration. Oil, in Alberta, is a key symbolic element in imagining what a good life is. To explore these messages about goodness, her project follows oil through four key cultural portraits grounded in ethnographic and archival work: the Christian colonial project of settlement in western Canada; historical narratives that frame energy as “heritage”; white-collar corporate culture in Calgary; and the entangled cultural assertions of the Calgary Stampede. Judith’s research works to discover the relationship between oil and these social worlds of value in Alberta, and to identify key areas of inquiry for the work of imagining a future that navigates the realities of climate change.


Chancellor Jackman Faculty Research Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Mark Cheetham

FAS Art History

Mark A. Cheetham (Ph.D. University College London, 1982) is Professor of Art History and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He writes on art theory, art, and visual culture from c.1700 to the present and is active as an art curator. He is the author of eight books, co-editor of three volumes, and author of numerous articles on topics ranging from Ecological Art to Immanuel Kant and Art History to abstract art to Postmodernism. His most recent book is Landscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature Since the 60s (Penn State UP, 2018), and his most recent exhibitions are Ecologies of Landscape (B E Contemporary Projects, 10 November 2018—26 January 2019) and Struck by Likening: The Power and Discontents of Artworld Analogies (McMaster Museum of Art, 2017). He was Acting Director of the Jackman Humanities Institute from 1 January—30 June 2011.

What I'm working on

Weather as Matter and Metaphor

Weather is both familiar and strange. In spite of our tendency to describe weather in human terms, atmospheric phenomena occur outside of our realms of affect and control. I will address the coeval familiarity and foreignness of the weather through two linked investigations in the visual arts: Weather Words, Weather Images will explore contemporary and historical visualizations of atmospheric phenomena. Arctic Anthropocene: Images about John Franklin will approach non-anthropocentric aspects of weather via a new reading of John Franklin’s ill-fated and enduringly controversial mid-19th century search for the Northwest Passage in what is now the Canadian Arctic.

Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman Graduate Fellow in the Humanities

Chiara Graf

Chiara Graf is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Classics.



What I'm working on

Wisdom and Other Feelings: Affect, Knowledge, and the Senecan Subject

Chiara’s dissertation treats the relationship of affect and natural science in the works of the Roman philosopher, scientist, and tragedian Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.1 BCE-65 CE). What feelings arise in the face of unexpected, beautiful, or frightening natural phenomena? What can these feelings teach us? How can we harness them towards ethical thought and action? She argues that affect can provide routes to knowledge and define the subject’s relationship to the cosmos. Chiara’s research draws heavily upon the history of science, the study of ancient literature, and modern philosophy and critical theory.


JHI Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Almeera Khalid

Almeera is studying Ethics, Society and Law; Criminology; and Political Science. She holds the James Fleck Undergraduate Award in the Humanities.  Her project at the Jackman Humanities Institute is supervised by Professor Bhavani Raman (UTSC Historical and Cultural Studies).


What I'm working on

Climate-Caused Migration: The Case for Climate Refugees

Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellow, 2019-2020

Daniel McNeil

History, Carleton University

Daniel McNeil (Ph.D. History, University of Toronto, 2007) will be the first person to hold the Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellowship. He brings to the position many years of experience nurturing interdisciplinary communities, fostering innovations in pedagogy, and leading public outreach work in Canada (as an Associate Professor of History at Carleton University and Visiting Professor in the Department of the Humanities at York University), the United States (as Ida B. Wells-Barnett Professor of African and Black Diaspora Studies at DePaul University), and the United Kingdom (as Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Hull and Newcastle University).

A note about this fellowship

The Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellowship is intended to foster knowledge exchange between the academy and the public. It is a component of the Jackman Humanities Institute’s research commitment to public scholarship, Humanities at Large, which has received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Humanities for 2019-2022. Humanities at Large brings humanities research out of the classroom and university press, and into the broader public realm for discussion, debate, and examination across multiple media platforms, and makes space in the academy for the knowledge of communities.


What I'm working on

How might the Humanities contribute to the critical discourse on energy and climate?

At the Jackman Humanities Institute, McNeil will build upon his award-winning teaching, research and outreach work on Black identities that work within, across, outside and against the nation-state. Two of the research projects at the intersection of environmental humanities and critical race studies that McNeil will pursue are:

  1. Migration and Stereotypes in Performance and Culture (co-edited with Y. Meerzon and  D. Dean) and
  2. How Culture Lives: An Unofficial History of Multiculturalism and Shy Elitism.

The first project will address the proliferation of stereotypes that attempt to reduce and fix refugees, migrants and racialized minorities to a few, simple, essential characteristics. It draws on historically informed and forward-looking approaches to the arts, humanities, social sciences and public affairs that ask critical questions about the use of the term ‘climate refugees’ in our contemporary culture. In particular, it will demonstrate how  the term ‘climate refugees’ has been used in a manner that recycles and redeploys notions of environmental determinism and a natural hierarchy of development that represented colonial Others as passive objects in need of aid, expert management, and surveillance.

The second project will demonstrate the power of history and the historical process in generating critical questions about the environmental metaphors of ‘floods’, ‘swamping’ and the ‘winds of change’ that have framed and oversimplified discussions of immigrants and immigration in the Canadian public sphere. It will draw on archival research to shed new light on three periods of Canadian history: 1971-1983 (a formative period after the official promulgation of multiculturalism); 1984-1993 (the institutionalization of multiculturalism as anti-racist and pro-business); and attempts to mobilize multiculturalism in support of national cohesion post-1993. It introduces ‘shy elitism’ as a new keyword in critical multiculturalism studies to deepen our understanding of work that has 1) nudged and encouraged the public to defer to prominent, respectable figures in elite institutions and celebrate the recipients of ‘prestigious’ and ‘important’ awards, and 2) granted awards, credentials and patronage to ‘accessible’ work that advances ‘harmonious race relations’ by repressing material that is presumed to be too elitist, esoteric or radical for ‘ordinary Canadians.’  



Chancellor Jackman Faculty Research Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Bhavani Raman

UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies

Bhavani Raman (Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2007) is Associate Professor of History. Her research pertains to bureaucracy, legal geography, and media ecology and archives of early colonial India and the wider Tamil world. She is the author of Document Raj: Scribes and Writing in Early Colonial South India (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and articles on the bureaucratic structures, extraordinary law and land management of early colonial Madras. Her interest in legal geography and land use has led to a new project on public lands in the coastal city of Chennai, India. She has also published on migration and the reinvigoration of the culture question around the Bay of Bengal after imperial withdrawal. Her essays have appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, and the Indian news portal, The Wire.

What I'm working on

The Strange Nature of Urban Commons: Landscapes of an Indian Coastal City

My project will offer a historical account of the making and unmaking of urban infrastructural landscapes through the lens of the commons in the coastal city of Chennai, India’s fourth-largest metropolitan region. Drawing on archival documents and digital technology, the project will explore the making of lands called porambokePoramboke, ‘making outside’ or ‘outside’ in Tamil, refers to public (Government) land, the commons, and waste, as well as to the practices of usufruct that congealed around them. These contradictory meanings describe amphibious landscapes that straddle the city’s ecologically sensitive beaches, wetlands, swamps, engineered reservoirs, waterways, canals and their shores. By creating a digital overlay of topographical maps, city plans, aerial and thematic maps I will aim to understand how Chennai’s poramboke as government land, ruin and commons were historically made and unmade in the last 240 years at the intersection of law, ecology and property.

JHI Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Zachary Rosen

Zachary is studying Philosophy and History.  He holds the Dr. Jan Blumenstein Undergraduate Award in the Humanities.  His research project at the Jackman Humanities Institute is supervised by Professor Alan Ackerman (FAS English).


What I'm working on

Environmental Justice: Individual, International, Intergenerational

JHI Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Olive Scott

Olive is studying Classics and Environmental Studies.  She holds the Zoltan Simo Undergraduate Award in the Humanities.  Her research project at the Jackman Humanities Institute is supervised by Professor Ben Akrigg (FAS Classics).


What I'm working on

How to Face the Climate Crisis: A Greco-Roman Perspective

JHI Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities, 19-20

Olivia Smith

Olivia is studying International Relations and Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies. She holds the Milton Harris Undergraduate Award in the Humanities.  Her research project at the Jackman Humanities Institute is supervised by Professor Ben Akrigg (FAS Classics).


What I'm working on

Anarchy in the Anthropocene: Environmental Ethics, Human Security, and International Relations in an Age of Total System Failure

Distinguished Visiting Indigenous Faculty Fellow, 19-20

Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark

Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Victoria. She is the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-led Engagement (CIRCLE) and the Director of the Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Nationhood. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. She is the co-editor of Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories with Jill Doerfler and Niigaanwewidam Sinclair and is the co-author of American Indian Politics and the American Political System (3rd and 4th edition) with Dr. David E. Wilkins. She has published articles in journals such as Theory and Event, American Indian Quarterly, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and Michigan State University Law Review.

Her primary areas of research and teaching are Indigenous law and treaty practices, Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and Indigenous politics in the United States and Canada. Her research background includes collaborative work with Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada. She was awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for her project titled “Sakimay First Nation Governance,” in collaboration with John Borrows which involve students, Anishinaabe Elders, and Sakimay First Nation community members, and aims to advance the development and resurgence of Anishinaabe political structures and institutions that are informed and shaped by Anishinaabe philosophies, values, and teachings.


What I'm working on

Anishinaabe Inaakinogoowin: Governed by Creation

My research in the coming year will explore Anishinaabe political thought and governance models expressed through relationships with Creation. Indigenous nations have long had to contend with climate change and radical transformation of creation. This project focuses on unearthing Anishinaabe governance principles rooted in Anishinaabe philosophies and values pertaining to relationships with creation that shape and guide how we live with each other and other beings in this world. Building on previous work with Zagime First Nation, this research invokes traditional Anishinaabe knowledge and political principles to build an understanding of Anishinaabe governance and organizational structures that are focused on land management plans, and the development of water and hunting councils.

Tamira Sawatzky and Elle Flanders

Artist-in-Residence 2019-2020

Public Studio is the collective art practice of filmmaker Elle Flanders and architect Tamira Sawatzky. Public Studio creates large-scale public art works, lens-based works, films, and immersive installations. Grounded in the personal, social, and political implications of landscape, Public Studio’s multidisciplinary practice engages themes of political dissent, war and militarization, and ecology and urbanization, through the activation of site. Public Studio often works in collaboration with other artists.

Elle Flanders completed her Ph.D. at York University’s newly created practice-based research visual arts program in 2014 and has mentored with some of the art world’s most notable artists, including Mary Kelly and Martha Rosler, at the Whitney ISP and Rutgers University, respectively. Flanders has a strong history of community engagement and has created award-winning films and installations. Her longstanding interest in the socio-political realm and how it relates to landscape have led her, in collaboration with Sawatzky, to produce site-specific public art installations that are immersive and re-examine the role of audience as participant/witness.

Tamira Sawatzky is an architect by training, having worked for the firm MJMA in Toronto from 1999–2010, designing large-scale, award-winning, community-based projects. Sawatzky began a collaborative art practice with Elle Flanders in 2009, bringing a spatial focus that contributes to the development of immersive installations and multifaceted exhibitions. Sawatzky’s architectural background lends itself to an emphasis on the structural, provoking a conversation between art and architecture and the politics of landscape and place. Since forming Public Studio, Sawatzky and Flanders have garnered critical attention, winning several public art commissions and awards, including the 2013 Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Award. A publication about their work is slated to be published by Black Dog Press in 2018.

Public Studio is based in Toronto, Canada.

What I'm working on

Public Studio's residency with the Jackman Humanities Institute is a collaboration with the UTSC Department of Arts, Culture, and Media.  Elle and Tamira have participated as members of the Circle of Fellows working on the annual theme of Strange Weather, and they have also taught courses with the department. In January, an exhibition of their art, based in this year's research at the JHI, will open at the Doris McCarthy Gallery.

Amilcare Iannucci Graduate Fellow in the Humanities

Julie Zatzman

Julie Zatzman is a doctoral candidate in the OISE Department of Adult Education & Community Development.


What I'm working on

Fishing Communities and Social and Economic Change: Learning, or Unlearning Collectivist Traditions?

Julie's doctoral research aims to shed light on an increasingly urgent question: why, with all the alarming news concerning the state of the environment and climate change, do some communities take progressive action, while others do not? It does so from an unusual perspective, the role of collective learning processes in times of economic and social change. It employs critical ethnography and a novel application of Jean Lave’s (1988) situated learning theory (SLT) and argues that the unique conceptual framework of this theory can help explain the unpredictability of collective learning described in adult education literature. The background to this study is the 1992 collapse of northern cod stocks off the coast of Atlantic Canada and the subsequent restructuring of the fishery by the Canadian government. The differing responses to the restructuring by two communities – the Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island, and a nearby Acadian community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – form the focus of this qualitative study.