U of G Faculty Receive $1 Million in SSHRC Grants

July 29, 2011 - News Release

The University of Guelph’s theatre studies and fine art programs are at centre stage following the announcement of nearly $750,000 in grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

U of G was the only university in Canada to have theatre projects funded under SSHRC’s Research/Creation Grants in Fine Arts program. The two initiatives headed by Profs. Ric Knowles and Jerrard Smith are also among the highest-funded projects, receiving $238,500 and $250,000, respectively. Knowles’s project was ranked one of the top projects in the category.

In addition, Prof. Susan Dobson, School of Fine Art and Music, received $223,398 for her project on the past and future of photography.

“These awards underscore the important contributions that the arts bring to our society’s quality of life and to our ability to understand, interpret and represent the meaning that arises from culture,” said Don Bruce, dean of the College of Arts.

“The fine and performing arts components of the College of Arts are remarkably strong and vibrant areas of research and creative activity. We are justly proud of these artists and scholars ─ the flow of successes in this area continues unabated.”

In total, U of G received nearly $1.1 million in SSHRC support. The funding was announced Thursday afternoon by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology). Nationwide, SSHRC is investing $121 million in more than 1,700 research projects as a result of several grant competitions during the past year.

Knowles’s project, “Indigenous Knowledge, Contemporary Performance,” is a collaboration of five indigenous artists and scholars from various First Nations, including Monique Mojica, a Kuna and Rappahannock actor and playwright.

“We’re exploring ways in which contemporary indigenous theatre can build upon indigenous cultural and performance forms,” said Knowles. "This includes developing models to recover indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, and to reflect them in new productions.”

The project will result in three new theatrical works as well as books, articles and public presentations about the process.

“This project will revolutionize contemporary native theatre and performance,” he said. “Many people say they admire Aboriginal Peoples’ ways of knowing and relating to the world and the environment, but both Aboriginal Peoples and theatre are increasingly marginalized. So I’m thrilled that SSHRC has recognized in such an affirming way the ongoing importance of both.” (Read more about Knowles here).

Smith’s project, “The Labyrinth,” involves transforming a forest into a theatrical experience. It’s part of a series of music dramas called “Patria” begun by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer.

“Basically, we are building a labyrinth with about 50 spaces and transitional areas within the labyrinth,” said Smith. “When it is done, people will go through one at a time, and as they walk through, they’ll encounter occasional live performances and various installations that will engage their senses.”

Dobson’s project, “The Pictured Past and the Future Perfect,” involves visual research and art production in digital and hybrid forms of photography, as well as theoretical research into how new photographic practices and modes of production are informed by the technologies, cultures and values of photography in the past.

There will be a website and interactive teaching tools, with input from scholars from around the world. She’s collaborating with American art curator Alison Nordström on the project, which will culminate in an international group exhibition.

“I was thrilled to receive such a significant grant as it will support sustained in-depth research in my field of expertise and enable collaboration with national and international researchers,” Dobson said. She added that graduate and undergraduate students will gain valuable experience and training by assisting with art production, research and writing. (More about Dobson).

SSHRC funding was also awarded to:

• Prof. Kim Anderson, Department of History, $162,403 to study indigenous masculinities and identities;

• Prof. Rumina Dhalla, Business, $105,000 to host the 2011 Impact Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership;

• Prof. Smaro Kamboureli, English and Theatre Studies, $21,809 for a research workshop/conference on editing as a cultural practice;

• Profs. Sandeep Mishra and Patrick Barclay, Psychology, $23,700 to study the effect of social environment on risky behaviour; and a

• U of G institutional grant, $70,180 to support small research projects and conference/travel grants in the social sciences and humanities.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, shiona@uoguelph.ca.

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