Research Projects for May 2021
Projects located at the UT-St. George campus
Supervisor: Prof. Claire Battershill (FAS English)
Title: The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP)
Project Description: The publishing industry plays an important role in shaping cultural discourse. Publishers can be gatekeepers as well as agents of change, capable of challenging or reaffirming dominant narratives and inequalities and supporting activist and revolutionary currents of thought. The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP)
http://www.modernistarchives.com/ is an open-access critical digital archive that transforms public access to twentieth-century publishers’ records and special collections. For this SiR project, selected student RAs will be working to integrate the University of Toronto’s relevant library and archive collections more fully into the resource and to select and prioritize new publishers whose bodies of works should be included.
Supervisor: Prof. Chandni Desai (New College, Critical Studies of Equity & Solidarity)
Title: Tracing Legacies: Afro-Asian Transnationalism during Third World Decolonization and the Cold War
Project Description: Tracing Legacies investigates the cultural and political networks of Afro-Arab transnational solidarity, through an examination of anti-colonial cultural production and relationships forged between artists and political figures across the Global South during the Decolonization and Cold War period. Student RAs will perform archival research on Afro-Asian writings and other cultural works. Scholars will code and analyze historical documents, photographs, conference proceedings, and witness oral history interviews conducted with cultural figures. The project appeals to students interested in Middle Eastern Studies, Black and Indigenous Studies, History, Social Movements and Cultural Studies. Proficiency in Arabic will be considered, but not necessary.
Supervisor: Prof. Simon Dickie (FAS English)
Title: Blasphemy and Sacrilege in Enlightenment Literature
Project Description: In his time, the London bookseller William Hone (1780-1842) was notorious for his collection of blasphemous books and prints. Working with library databases and a newly discovered auction catalogue (1827), we will reconstruct Hone’s library and discover much about the force and variety of early modern blasphemy. We will read mock-sermons, burlesques of the Book of Common Prayer, comic novels about clerical impostors, letters from Satan to English bishops, and much more. Student RAs should have an established interest in historical or literary research and some exposure to the Christian tradition and/or history of religion. Prior coursework in English or History is an asset, but not a necessity. Full training in databases and book history sources will be provided.
Supervisor: Prof. Sarah Dowling (FAS Centre for Comparative Literature)
Title: Taking it Lying Down
Project Description: This project compares four novels narrated from a lying-down position: Gail Scott’s Canadian classic Heroine, Argentinian writer Luisa Valenzuela’s Realidad nacional desde la cama, American novelist Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and Nishnaabeg writer and theorist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies. Student researchers will analyze how the novels use their supine protagonists to pose questions about political engagement and narrative structure, and will work in teams to compile a critical bibliography for each. Background in literary studies is essential; coursework in gender and sexuality studies and proficiency in Spanish or Anishinaabemowin are welcome.
Supervisors: Profs. Andrew DuBois (FAS English) and Ira Wells (Victoria College)
Title: A Stern Test of Artistry: Editing Charles Whibley
Project Description: This project provides students with the opportunity to contribute to the first critical edition of the essays of Charles Whibley (1859-1930). Whibley was a towering figure of early twentieth-century British literary culture, a “polemical dragon” responsible for “the best sustained piece of literary journalism” of his age, according to T.S. Eliot. Student RAs will help select and edit Whibley’s essays, conduct research on historical and cultural contexts, and produce explanatory annotations. They will acquire an applied understanding of the principles of scholarly editing, including training in the platforms and technical skills necessary to contribute to scholarly editions. Students interested in British literary history and culture and the practice of editing are especially encouraged to apply.
Supervisor: Prof. Christoph Emmrich (FAS Study of Religion)
Title: “Extensive Play” and the Other Beginning of an Indigenous Himalayan Literature
Project Description: In 1914 a lone Buddhist priest broke with the tradition of preserving one of his forefathers’ most revered scriptures, the Lalitavistara or “The [Buddha’s] Extensive Play,” in Sanskrit and transcreated it in Newar, in an act that was both the recovery of his ancient indigenous heritage as well as the beginning of modern Newar literature. Our project will prepare the grounds for the first commented edition and translation of Niṣṭhānanda’s text by creating a concordance of the Newar translation and its Sanskrit namesake. Student RAs will receive training in the visual and phonetic representation of Newar in Devanagari and Roman scripts and in the digital methodologies necessary for identifying and tagging parallel passages, so that they may collaboratively produce the first ever bilingual synopsis of this foundational text. Some previous knowledge of the script and languages involved is desirable but not required.
Supervisor: Prof. Angela Esterhammer (FAS English)
Title: The Works of John Galt: Archives to Critical Edition
Project Description: The Works of John Galt is a multi-volume critical edition of fiction and journalism by the Scottish writer John Galt (1779-1839), a popular novelist who was also a key figure in early-nineteenth-century Canadian settlement. Student RAs will gain experience with several stages of the scholarly-editing and publication process. Working with original print editions and manuscripts of Galt’s works, they will assist with transcription, proofreading, and typesetting of camera-ready copy. Scholars will do original research on the historical and cultural contexts and the publication history of Galt’s geographically diverse short stories in order to help prepare annotations and appendices.
Supervisor: Prof. Julia Forgie (Victoria College, Education and Society program)
Title: Teachers’ Efficacy for Online/Distance Teaching during the Covid-19 Crisis
Project Description: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many K-12 teachers worldwide are now teaching in an online/distance context. This project seeks to assess teachers’ feelings of efficacy in classroom management, instructional strategies, student engagement, and technology use now that they are teaching in an online/distance format. This study will also examine how teachers’ efficacy beliefs when teaching via an online/distance mode compare to their efficacy beliefs when teaching in a traditional, in-person mode. This mixed-methods project invites students with specific interests in teaching efficacy and school pedagogy to engage in data collection, data analysis, literature review and contributing to the writing of manuscripts.
Supervisor: Edward Jones-Imhotep (FAS History & Philosophy of Science & Technology)
Title: The Black Androids: Recovering Lost Histories
Project Description: This project explores the complex histories of the “black androids” — a series of racialized mechanical humans, created between the mid-18th century and the late 20th-century, that form part of the intersecting histories of slavery, automation, rebellion, science fiction, and artificial intelligence. Students RAs will work to identify and digitally document these automata as contributions to both modern history of technology and to Black history and culture. Scholars will develop: a sophisticated suite of research skills; experience in project management; and a set of co-authored digital artifacts that will form international resources for future research.
Supervisor: Prof. Rie Kijima (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy)
Title: Education Reformism: The causes and consequences of national education reform worldwide, 1970-2018
Project Description: Education reform is largely taken-for-granted as a routine feature of school systems. Globally, we have witnessed the cyclical patterns of education reforms. The failure of a reform simply generates more reform, leading to widespread doubts about the efficacy of these reforms. The goals of this research are: 1) to understand the substantive foci of education reforms worldwide; 2) to analyze the socio-economic conditions under which education reforms are likely to emerge; and 3) to examine the intended and unintended consequences of reforms. Students will participate in the development of a panel data of education reforms.
Supervisors: Profs. Anabela Rato (FAS Spanish & Portuguese) and Naomi Nagy (FAS Linguistics)
Title: When Our Speech Carries Two Worlds: Ethnic Orientation in Heritage Language Research
Project Description: In the context of Toronto’s heritage languages (HLs), we ask, “What constrains properties that speakers transfer more easily from one language to another?” and “What role does ethnic orientation play?” We focus on Heritage Portuguese, Italian and Tagalog: applicants must speak one of these languages as we count on their expertise. Student RAs will learn about Toronto’s history of immigration, review and discuss HL studies, theories of bilingual speech acquisition, language variation and language contact. Scholars will gain hands-on research training and experience in recruiting participants, conducting speech experiments and sociolinguistic interviews, and exploring data analysis and interpretation.
Supervisor: Prof. Shaun Ross (Victoria College, Renaissance Studies and Literary & Critical Theory programs)
Title: Charting Virgil’s Renaissance Reception
Project Description: Virgil’s Aeneid, though written in antiquity, was the single most influential poem in Medieval and Renaissance literary history. Poets such as Dante, Ariosto, Ercilla, Camões, Spenser, and Milton all used Virgil’s poem as a model, to imitate and to challenge, as they wrote their own vernacular epics. Participants will study this reception history by contributing to the creation of a digital edition of the Aeneid that charts how Dante and subsequent Renaissance-era poets responded to and reinterpreted Virgil’s Latin poem. Knowledge of any of the following languages will be highly beneficial: Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian.
Supervisors: Profs. Simon Stern (FAS English and Faculty of Law) and Adam Hammond (FAS English)
Title: The Birth of the Modern Detective Story, 1890-1920
Project Description: This project uses digital methods to study detective stories published in magazines between 1890 and 1920. We will code stories according to features such as: the gender of the author, detective, and culprit; the detective’s role as an amateur, private investigator, or police officer; the types of clues and the timing of their presentation; and the types of crimes or quasi-crimes (e.g., murder and theft, as against immoral but not criminal acts). Students will identify these features in a specially designed software interface. No previous coding experiencing is required; training in the relevant coding techniques will be provided.
Supervisors: Profs. Kevin White (FAS Study of Religion) and Susan Hill (FAS History and Centre for Indigenous Studies)
Title: Six Nations of Grand River Community History Project
Project Description: Students RAs will conduct transcriptions for a community-based research project with Deyohaha:ge Indigenous Knowledge Centre: a repository of Haudenosaunee Knowledge recorded in textual documents as well as a research centre focused on perpetuating and celebrating Haudenosaunee Knowledge. This collaborative research project is organized by a number of Haudenosaunee scholars and explores the historic impacts of Cayuga Chief Levi General (Deskaheh title). General was the first Indigenous leader who attempted to address the League of Nations; he sought international review of Canada’s actions against the sovereignty of the Grand River Haudenosaunee. Your work will be acknowledged in reports and publications.
Supervisor: Prof. Kenneth Yu (FAS Classics)
Title: The Logic, Function, and Contexts of Ancient Greek Titles
Project Description: How did ancient Greek writers—poets, philosophers, and scientists—name their works? This project investigates ancient Greek practices of entitling texts to uncover how book titles were created, transmitted, and conceptualized in antiquity, the relations between ancient titles and the texts they designate, and the dynamics of ancient Greek reading practices. Participants will gather, organize, and interpret vast data sets related to Greek literary history, and help create the first online database for extant ancient Greek titles. Our project will be conducted online, though there may be opportunities to examine Greek manuscripts at Robarts if circumstances permit. Knowledge of beginning Greek will be an asset.
Projects located at the UT-Mississauga campus
Supervisor: Prof. Teresa Lobalsamo (UTM Language Studies)
Title: Preserving Toronto’s Foodways
Project Description: This project emphasizes an experiential, digital humanities approach to Diaspora and Food Studies and, in particular, to the study of Italian culture and gastronomy. The project will be a digital map-catalogue of artifacts that answer the following questions about the GTA’s changing food landscape: 1) What and where are the oldest Italian food-related businesses in the GTA? 2) What does the GTA’s Italian food landscape look like today? Student RAs will interview business owners and/or chefs, record descriptions and bibliographic entries, collect relevant artifacts (menus, recipes, advertisements) from past and existing establishments. To archive (digitize) those collected materials, RAs will learn to utilize appropriate digital platforms (Omeka and Google Maps). Knowledge of Diaspora and Food Studies, of beginner Italian, and/or familiarity with digital platforms are useful, but they are not required.
Supervisor: Prof. Adrien Rannaud (UTM Language Studies)
Title: Press, Celebrity and Gender in Quebéc (1930-1970)
Project Description: This SSHRC-funded research describes the history of celebrity in Québec between 1930 and 1970, examining celebrity culture as a complex relationship between texts and images, periodicals, producers and audiences. We will focus on the relationship between celebrity culture and women’s cultural practices by collecting and analyzing data on large corpuses (chronicles, newspapers, magazines). Student RAs will receive all necessary training in data collection and qualitative analysis in literary and cultural history. Proficiency in French (intermediate or advanced level) is necessary. Students with interest in French Studies, Literature and Drama, Cinema, Media, Historical or Cultural Studies are especially encouraged to apply.
Supervisor: Prof. Pablo Robles-Garcia (UTM Language Studies)
Title: Validating the First Listening Vocabulary Test in Spanish
Project Description: This study aims at validating a listening vocabulary test in Spanish. Student RAs will (1) create a schedule for students to sign up for the test, (2) contact students with detailed information about the test procedures, (3) administer and proctor the test through Zoom, and (4) conduct a series of one-on-one interviews with some examinees. Knowledge of Spanish for these RAs is highly desirable. Another RA (no knowledge of Spanish needed) will design R scripts and carry out quantitative statistical analyses based on the Rasch model (Item Response Theory). All RAs will receive training in data collection.
Supervisor: Prof. Liye Xie (UTM Anthropology)
Title: Building monuments, bonding communities: urbanization and social transformation in ancient China
Project Description: This project examines the late Neolithic and early Shang urban sites to understand how urban construction facilitated social transformation at the dawn of China’s dynastic history. Student RAs will receive training as they participate in (1) literature research on theories, methods, and data; (2) GIS aggregation and analysis of published settlement data; (3) estimating construction costs, public places’ capacities, and numbers of urban inhabitants; and (4) preparing materials for presentation and publication. RAs from relevant disciplines such as archaeology, GIS, sociology, political science, architecture, and city studies are invited to apply. Reading knowledge of Mandarin is not required, but will be very helpful for certain data-related tasks.
Projects located at the UT-Scarborough campus
Supervisor: Prof. Maria Assif (UTSC English)
Title: New Voices, New Vistas: Contemporary Arab Women Writers Database
Project Description: Student RAs will contribute to the upcoming digital database on contemporary Arab women writers from around the world. No expertise in the field is needed, and enthusiastic individuals from all disciplines are welcome! Student RAs will be trained to research and evaluate writings by Arab women social media influencers and activists; create Wikipedia entries on Arab women writers; and generate annotated bibliographies about seminal critical works in the field. In week four, all collaborators will co-author a reflective blog on this project to be published in one of the SaP (Students as Partners) sites.
Supervisor: Prof. Sébastien Drouin (UTSC Language Studies)
Title: Diplomacy, Pedagogy and French Fashion in mid-18th century Europe
Project Description: In mid-18th century Europe, French was spoken by most of the elite. This phenomenon is particularly interesting in Germany where French language and culture have transformed many aspects of the day-to-day life at several courts like Potsdam, Bayreuth, and Karlsruhe. In this project, we will study the “Grand Tour” made by Gotha’s crown-prince Friedrich Ludwig (1735-1756) with diplomat and pedagogue Ulrich von Thun (1707-1788). Students will work on the transcription and on the annotation of the letters written in French by Ulrich von Thun to the duchess of Gotha. High proficiency in French is mandatory (speaking, reading, writing). Students interested in the French language, literature, art history, history of music, history of pedagogy and digital humanities are especially encouraged to apply. Basic knowledge of German will be considered an asset.
Supervisor: Professor Jessica Fields (UTSC Sociology)
Title: The Beyond Bullying Project
Project Description: The Beyond Bullying Project (BBP) (https://beyondbullyingproject.com) is an interdisciplinary and ethnographic study that collects and analyzes stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) sexuality and gender from high school students, teachers, and students. In Spring 2021, BBP will launch an interactive website in order to virtually collect stories at three Toronto-area high schools. Working with faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student researchers, student RAs will gain experience in digital ethnographic research methods, including conducting virtual interviews and participant observation; recording ethnographic fieldnotes; designing and implementing online knowledge mobilization tools; and analyzing BBP stories and other qualitative data.
Supervisor: Prof. Joe Hermer (UTSC Sociology)
Title: Pandemic Policing of the Homeless: Making Scarborough Visible
Project Description: This project enables students to contribute to evidence based public policy in an area that is the subject of much public discussion and contestation: the policing of vulnerable and poor people in distress. Student RAs will become active members of a Canada wide research project (http://policinghomelessness.ca) that explores how people experiencing homelessness are being policed during the pandemic. RAs will participate in ongoing research inquiries, including the analysis of a large interview data set. Participants will pay special attention to the diversity of Scarborough communities and the nature of suburban homelessness. Training will be provided in key aspects of qualitative research work. Fluency in a second language is an asset, but not required. Students from all disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Supervisor: Prof. Laura Risk (UTSC Arts, Culture and Media
Title: Engaging with Archives: Mobilizing Quebec’s Musical Past for Today
Project Description: This project seeks student RAs with strong French-language skills and an interest in music and community-engaged research. We will work on two interrelated projects about traditional music in Quebec: 1) mobilization of a large collection of field recordings from the 1960s and 70s in anticipation of their future use in community music and heritage activities; and 2) an historical study of the place of traditional music in the construction of national identity in Quebec in the early/mid twentieth century. Student RAs will have opportunities to collaborate with community partners such as museums and non-profit arts organizations, and to work with researchers from several Quebec universities.
Supervisor: Prof. Natalie Rothman
Title: Diplomatic Translation in Early Modern Istanbul: Digital Remediation, Analysis, and Visualization
Project Description: Participants in this project will help develop a companion website to a forthcoming book about Venetian dragomans (diplomatic interpreters) in Istanbul in the period 1550-1750. Together, we will 1) Curate archival documents and other primary documents analyzed in the book for interactive online representation and querying; 2) Annotate dragomans’ translations; 3) Formalize a taxonomy of dragomans’ translation practices; and 4) Develop relevant data visualizations. Reading knowledge of Italian would be a great asset, but is not required. Likewise, prior knowledge of digital methodologies is optional, as participants will receive extensive training in relevant digital research skills.