The Institute is pleased to welcome its 2017-18 affiliates Dr Jessica Herdman (Musicology), Dr Sarah Bezan (English), Mr Jon Malek, Doctoral Candidate (History), and Mr Jason Brown (Medieval Studies)
Dr Jessica Herdman: As well as being a Research Affiliate at UMIH, Dr. Herdman is also a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dept. of History at the University of Manitoba. While at the Institute she will be working on a project examining music in early colonial encounters in the Great Lakes Region. Focusing on the period 1615-1701, her research explores how musical interactions between missionaries and Indigenous peoples had serious impacts on both of their ontologies. From popular French novels set in the Wendat (Huron) language, to gargantuan ceremonies of possession, this project strives to address how music was implicated in the epistemic violence that characterized early French missionization.
Dr Sarah Bezan: Working between the Environmental Humanities and Posthumanism, my research is mainly focused on post-mortem animal embodiments in the visual record of natural history. My first research project, "Nature Morte: Decomposing Darwinism's Evolutionary Aesthetics," is a book manuscript that expands upon my doctoral dissertation. This project illuminates how contemporary creative engagements with the evolutionary thinking of Charles Darwin in turn redefines death and decay as a creative threshold for evolutionary progress. Each axis of my research explores how Darwin’s fascination with the “decaying branches” and “fresh buds” of the great Tree of Life inform our understanding of natural history, and moreover continue to shape our responses to urgent issues of the present day, such as the loss of species biodiversity and the decline of ecological habitats. My second project, "Animating the Fossil Image: Iconographies of Contingency in Paleoart," offers an urgent response to the visual narrative of life in the precarious era of the Anthropocene, a moment conditioned by the threat of an irreversible collapse of ecological systems. Through an analysis of a collection of contemporary film and art by Barbara Page, Peter Greenaway, Julius Csotonyi, and Eldon Garnet that models the contingency of evolution, my project demonstrates how today’s emerging paleoartists are re-inventing the temporal index, disordering classificatory schemes, and discharging the human from its seemingly superior position as the apex of evolutionary progress.
Mr Jon Malek: Mr Malek is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario. His research is on the Filipino diaspora in Canada, with a focus on Winnipeg. His work draws upon ethnic media, archival sources, and oral histories to create a historical narrative of Filipinos in Canada, a history that dates to the 1890s. He has collected sources and oral histories from Canada and the Philippines to try and recreate the lives and experiences of Filipinos at home and abroad. During his tenure at the Institute for the Humanities, he will be working on his dissertation, as well as articles for the Canadian Historical Review and Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints. In 2015, he was commissioned by the Canadian Historical Association to write a booklet on Filipinos in Canada, which he will also be working on throughout the year.
Mr Jason Brown: Mr Brown is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto. He researches medieval theology and preaching on justice in economic behaviour. While at the Institute he will be writing his dissertation, a critical edition of the economic teaching of Antoninus of Florence. St Antoninus, archbishop of Florence from 1446 to 1459, preached about the right and wrong ways of trading and exhorted the Florentines to practice virtue and moderation in the pursuit of profit. His Summa (compendium) of moral theology collected these sermons, giving him ample scope for critical comment on the practices of his time, and played a crucial role in the development of moral theology. Mr Brown is preparing an edition and study of the chapters from Antoninus’s Summa which deal with the obligations of justice in the market, the moral pitfalls of the merchant’s profession, and the way of trading virtuously. Antoninus’s intimate knowledge of the Florentine business scene can provide a glimpse of a productive and dynamic commercial culture operating on non-materialist assumptions: where economic activity was embedded in social expectations and religious beliefs restraining acquisitiveness and guiding the use of wealth towards virtue.