Public Humanities at WesternWestern Arts and Humanities

Past Events

Engage Western: Opening the Doors to Campus-Community Collaboration (AUCC Open Doors, Open Knowledge 2013)

logoThursday, 14 November 2013 from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Engage Western brings together campus representatives, the London community and special guests to share perspectives and stories about the ways academic institutions partner with their community to work towards mobilizing knowledge, creating positive social change, and building community and university capacity. 

The event is part of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada's Open Doors, Open Knowledge national campaign of events on the theme of university-community engagement, taking place at universities across the country in November.

Engage Western opens with a panel discussion on community-university engagement, featuring visiting experts and voices from University and the local community, followed by roundtable dialogues, showcasing successful community-university partnerships.

The day will wrap with Stories of Health at Western, a public storytelling initiative and community-engaged research project, taking place at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolf Performance Hall, London Public Library (Central Branch).


How does the study of the humanities and storytelling relate to health care education and the experience of patient care? In what ways are doctors, patients and other health professionals storytellers? How can faculty, students, and staff across the disciplineswork together to produce collaborative, empathetic approaches to person-centred care through creative methods of teaching, research, and community-based work?

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Ceativity and Change: A Public Lecture by Banff Centre President Jeff Melanson 
March 2013 at Museum London

This lecture marks the first collaboration in a new partnership between Museum London,The School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities and Public Humanities @ Western. As rapid changes in our social, cultural and economic fabric have created uncertain times, Jeff Melanson will discuss opportunities for transformative change, and how individuals and organizations can engage the public, reframe audience development and create greater public good. Melanson was appointed president of The Banff Centre in 2012. He holds a BA in music from the University of Manitoba and a MBA degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. A member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and a trustee with the National Guild for Community Arts Education, in the United States, Melanson was the first arts leader to be appointed one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40™ for 2009. Between 2000 and 2006, Melanson held various posts at the Community School at the Royal Conservatory of Music and was promoted to dean in 2001. In this role, he was essential in building the program into the largest community arts school in North America. In 2006, Melanson was appointed executive director and co-chief executive officer of Canada’s National Ballet School. During his tenure, he was instrumental in eliminating a significant annual operating deficit, increasing annual revenues by over 50 per cent, overseeing the completion of residence renovations, and creating new strategic partnerships with many non-profit and for-profit arts and entertainment corporations. Prior to the public lecture at Museum London, Jeff Melanson participate in a roundtable discussion with city, campus and community leaders.

"Museum Utopias, Museum Dystopias: New National Museum Agendas and the Dawning of the Age of Hybridity" 
March 2013 

Dr. Ruth B. Phillips is the Canada Research Chair in Modern Culture at Carlton University. She researches visual and material culture as aspects of larger processes of culture contact and colonization in order to contribute to the development of new approaches to museological and academic representations of First Nations art. Dr. Phillips has created the Visual Studies Laboratory in Carleton’s Institute of Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture (ICSLAC), funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Fund, and Carleton University. The Laboratory hosts the work of the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures (GRASAC), which Phillips founded in 2005. GRASAC is an international collaboration of over fifty researchers based in universities, museums, and indigenous communities. Its members are developing new understandings of Great Lakes systems of expressive culture that incorporate both Western and indigenous knowledge and perspectives. In 2008, GRASAC launched its innovative multi-disciplinary database, using software developed with its industry partner, Ideeclic, of Gatineau, Quebec. The database supports the work of GRASAC researchers and ICSLAC students and facilitates digital repatriation to indigenous communities.

"The Compounded Eye: Beauty and the Body; its Beholders and Beholdings" 
March 2013

Dr. Robert Enright is University Research Professor in Art Criticism, is one of Canada's most prominent cultural journalists. He was the founder and is currently the Senior Contributing Editor to Border Crossings magazine. Dr. Enright has received 14 nominations at the National and Western Magazine Awards for his writing in Border Crossings, winning four gold and two silver medals. He was an art critic for CBC radio and television for 25 years and continues to contribute to a number of network programs. He also contributes regularly to the Globe & Mail, and to a number of international art magazines, including ArtReview, Modern Painters, ARTnews and Contemporary. Prof. Enright collaborated with Arthur Danto on the book, Eric Fischl: 19702000, and published a collection of 32 interviews under the title Peregrinations: Conversations with Contemporary Artists. He has also contributed essays, introductions and interviews to 20 catalogues in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. In addition to writing about the visual arts, he has conducted interviews and reviewed works in theatre, dance, film and performance art. In 2005 Professor Enright was made a Member of the Order of Canada by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson.

"Propositions for Thought in the Act"
March 2013

Erin Manning is a cultural theorist, political philosopher, and practicing visual artist. She currently holds a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University and is the founder and director of SenseLab, a laboratory that explores the intersections between art practice and philosophy through the matrix of the sensing body in movement. In her writing, Manning addresses various topics related to thought and politics in a field between dance and new technology, the convergence of cinema, animation, and new media. Her focus is on the senses, philosophy, and politics, as well as on the political and micropolitics of sensation and performance art. Her publications include: Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (2009), Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty(2007), and Ephemeral Territories: Representing Nation, Home, and Identity in Canada (2003). Brian Massumi is a political theorist, writer, and philosopher. He teaches in the Communication Sciences Department at the Université de Montréal and is well known for his English translation of several major texts in French post-structural theory including Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus and Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition. In addition, Massumi’s research is two-fold: the experience of movement and the interrelations between the senses, particularly in the context if new media art and technology; and the emergent moves of power associated with the globalization of capitalism and the rise of preemptive politics. His authored books include Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts (2011) and Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (2002). Massumi is also the editor of A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari (2002) and The Matrixial Borderspace: Essays by Bracha Ettinger (1997).

“Interrogating Scholarly Responsibility in an Era of Market Fundamentalism”
November 2012

Join us as we consider the limits and possibilities of research, teaching and faculty self-governance within the neoliberal, corporatized university. 
SPEAKERS: Moderator: Alison Hearn (Rogers Chair, FIMS) Matthew Rowlinson (English) Nick Dyer-Witheford (FIMS) Alexandra Torres (FIMS) Bryce Traister (English)

In 1992, Jacques Derrida insisted that the “strongest responsibility for someone attached to a research or teaching institution is…to make…its system and its aporias as clear and as thematic as possible” (Derrida 1992: 22–23). In 1996, Bill Readings urged those of us working within the university to adopt a form of “institutional pragmatism”, which would involve “ceasing to justify our practices in the name of an idea from ‘elsewhere,’ an idea that would release us from responsibility for our immediate actions” (The University in Ruins,1996: 153). Given the intensifying transformations of the university system that are currently taking place around the globe, what does “scholarly responsibility” mean today? And, what are the intellectual and political implications of adopting a form of “institutional pragmatism” in the face of these changes?

“Mobilizing Knowledge and Imagining Campus-Community Collaboration”
November 2012

Entering its second year of activities, The Public Humanities at Western is pleased to launch a new Public Scholarship Education Series, which is designed to bring together the research programs and community engagements of graduate students. Our inaugural one-day workshop, “Mobilizing Knowledge and Imagining Campus-Community Collaboration,” will begin the process of incubating new campus-community initiatives in the broad area of the arts and humanities, and will ask participants to make connections between their current research and the communities they feel connected to beyond their immediate departments. The workshop’s primary objective is to give graduate and post-graduate researchers the opportunity to think about the process of translating knowledge generated from their research projects to related areas of inquiry within and beyond academia, with a particular emphasis on critical research that engages with issues of public concern and the public good.

"Public Intellectuals and the Crisis of Higher Education as a Public Good"
October 2012

Henry A. Giroux writes and teaches on the topics of public education, cultural studies, higher education, media studies, and critical theory at McMaster University, where he holds the Global Television Network Chair in the Department of English and Cultural Studies.

He is also one of the groundbreaking theorists of the critical pedagogy movement, and his essays have appeared in numerous academic publications and public forums. His most recent books include: Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy (2010); Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (2010); The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (co-authored with Grace Pollock, 2010); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (2011); Henry Giroux on Critical Pedagogy (2011); Education and the Crisis of Public Values (2012); and Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability(2012). His website is

"Organizing Culture"
April 2012

Julie Ellison Professor of English, American Culture, and Art and Design, University of Michigan; Founding Director, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

For publicly engaged scholars, rethinking professional roles and aspirations is not just a reaction to stresses in higher education. It is also a chance to think in an evolutionary way about publicly engaged cultural organizations, and our roles in them. Collectively, we have fostered what amounts to an ad hoc 'curriculum' that allows us to think critically about how community-engaged humanists are working with, learning in, and thinking about cultural organizations; how these experiences are changing us; and the extent to which these altered professional practices are having, or could have, an reciprocal impact on the organizational settings in which we work as engaged scholars. Every party to campus-community partnerships works across differences in organizational types, organizational cultures, and organizational roles. The people who are involved in such relationships—students, faculty, administrators, staff—are actively reflecting on these inter-organizational dynamics. It is not surprising, then, that we are witnessing the emergence of what we might call "cultural organizational studies." This community of inquiry has grown from the direct experience of collaborative projects and programs involving partnerships between university programs and nonacademic organizations and institutions. Such a‘reorganizing’ of the arts, humanities, and cultural disciplines invites us to consider the ways in which the exercise of civic agency--working across lines of difference to address public problems--changes what kind of organizational knowledge we acquire, and how.

"A Visit with James Bartleman"
March 2012

James Bartleman 27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Trudeau Mentor, and Writer

Mr. Bartleman’s lecture, “Canada’s Forgotten Native Children,” will be focused around the recent release of his first novel, As Long as the Rivers Flow (Knopf Canada, 2011). The novel follows one girl, Martha, from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario who is “stolen” from her family at the age of six and flown far away to residential school. In advance of the lecture, Mr. Bartleman will be visiting with Dr. Pauline Wakeham’s First Nations Literatures class, which is currently reading his recent novel as part of the course syllabus. A representative from Knopf Canada will be available to sell copies of As Long as the Rivers Flow, and Mr. Bartleman will be available for a book signing.This event will be of interest to those working on human rights, international relations, law, political science, indigenous health and well being, public history, anthropology, sociology, first nations studies, social justice and peace studies, as well as literature and aesthetics.

"Culture, Policy, Urban Space, and the City"
March 2012 Museum London

Keynote Speaker Dr. Will Straw Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Public Humanities @ Western is pleased to support this seminar event, organized by the Faculty of Information & Media Studies and SSHRC postdoc Dr. Martin Lussier and FIMS faculty member Dr. Matt Stahl. At 6 p.m., a roundtable discussion will explore themes of cultural policy, the arts, and the relationship(s) between The University of Western Ontario and the city of London, with the following participants representing these institutions: Robin Armistead (City of London), Tom Carmichael (Dean of FIMS), Patick Mahon (Museum London) and Joshua Lambier (Western grad student). At 7:30 p.m., Dr. Straw will give a public lecture on Music in the Regulatory Matrix, how cultural policy is rarely where one looks to find it.

"In Conversation: Larry Towell speaks with Sharon Sliwinski"
February 2012 at Museum London

Larry Towell Award-winning Canadian photographer with Magnum agency

The Public Humanities @ Western and the Centre for Social Concern (King’s University College) are pleased to present “Larry Towell and Sharon Sliwinski in conversation.” at Museum London. Professor Sliwinski will engage with Towell’s work for an in depth conversation about Danger and Aftermath, an exhibition of photographs from Afghanistan. They will discuss working in conflict zones, the gap between photographic evidence and photographic meaning, and the difficulties of telling a story in pictures. Danger and Aftermath, a salon-style installation, is the first public exhibition of Towell’s Afghanistan series. The photos capture the turmoil caused by longstanding war, corruption and displacement, as well as the peril of landmines and the mushrooming problem of addiction. Large-scale prints and panoramas create an almost immersive experience, with the content – victims of war, ruins, detainees and insurgents – bringing the current conflict in Afghanistan to life for the viewer. “Larry Towell and Sharon Sliwinski in conversation” will be of interest to those working on human rights, international relations, social justice and peace studies, as well as photography, contemporary art, literature and aesthetics.

"Lies Your Nation Told You: Aboriginal Art and the Canadian State"  Steven Loft 

February 2012

In partnership with McIntosh Gallery and the Department of Visual Arts, Public Humanities @ Western is pleased to host a lecture by Steven Loft, curator, theorist, writer and Trudeau Fellow at Ryerson University. Loft’s lecture will be of interest to those working in contemporary art and art history, curatorial studies, First Nations Studies, public history, media and information studies, as well as literature and aesthetics.

"From Infamy to Acclaim: An Inside Look at Five Years of Al Jazeera English"
November 2011

Jeremy Copeland Television journalist for Al Jazeera English (AJE) and Lecturer in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western.

Jeremy Copeland shoots, reports and produces stories from across Canada for Al Jazeera English TV and teaches in the Graduate Program in Journalism at Western’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies. He started his career with CBC TV; spent three years at BBC World TV in London, England; opened a news bureau in New Delhi where he covered stories across South Asia for CBC and BBC TV and radio, the Globe and Mail and CBC Online. He helped run Iraq’s first elections after the fall of Saddam Hussein and was part of the team in Washington, D.C. that launched Al Jazeera English.

Presented in partnership with The Arab Students' Association and Students United in Representation of Latin America.

"Mengele's Skull: Human Rights and Forensic Aesthetics"
November 2011

Thomas Keenan Director of the Human Rights Project and Comparative Literature Professor, Bard College

In 1960 Adolf Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem and the 'era of the witness' commenced. In 1985, the body of Josef Mengele was identified by a group of forensic scientists in Brazil, giving birth to a rather different notion of evidence in human rights discourse. The talk will explore the emergence of the object in human rights, the conditions of its presentation, and the aesthetic operations involved in deciphering the 'speech of things.

"Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity"
October 2011

Book Launch and Inagural Event for the Public Humanities @ Western

Our goal for the inaugural event of The Public Humanities @ Western is to provide a forum for a public conversation on the question of “reconciliation” in Canada today. To guide us in this discussion, we will be welcoming Jonathan Dewar, Director of Research for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), and Ashok Mathur, Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry from Thompson Rivers University, to introduce the third and final publication in the AHF's series on Truth and Reconciliation, entitled, Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity. The volume brings together disparate voices to address how communities—immigrant, racialized, ‘new’ Canadians, and other minoritized groups—relate to the intricacies of reconciliation as a concept. Many of the contributors included in the volume address questions of land, Aboriginal histories, and different trajectories that have led to the current configuration and conglomeration of peoples in this geographic space. A central organizing principle of this collection of essays is artistic practice, and how embedding creative acts within critical responses helps to create a relevant framework of possibilities as we move inexorably into uncertain futures.