Scholars-in-Residence 2018 Project Descriptions
Scholars-in-Residence 2018 Project Descriptions and Teams
The following 15 projects (5 at UTM and 10 and UTSG) will be underway during May 2018 for the Scholars-in-Residence this year.
Editing Margaret Cavendish (supervisor: Prof. Liza Blake) This project seeks five students to help edit the poetry of Margaret Cavendish, a remarkable poet active in the middle of the seventeenth century. Cavendish was politically active, scientifically curious, philosophically experimental, and literarily adventurous; her poetry covers topics as various as atomism, the moral philosophies of trees, and alternate universes. Students will receive training in the basic principles of textual editing, and will visit a rare books library. We will then work collaboratively to produce and post online an accessible modern edition of Part V of Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies, as in an earlier phase of the project: http://poemsandfancies.rblake.net/
From Script to Stage: Research and Writing in Theatre Production (supervisor: Prof. Teresa Lobalsamo) This project involves a new written adaptation of a dramatic work by playwright Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936), to be staged in 2019. Students will attend skills-based workshops on research, script writing, and copy editing as they engage in academic research, creative and professional writing, theatre production, and second-language pedagogy. Compiling the script will involve reviewing several publications, records of past performances, and film adaptations of the play in question; collecting the best aspects of different versions into an amalgamated script; blocking stage directions; and copyediting both Italian and English versions. This project’s team will also create adjacent curricular and production materials such as pedagogical activities, character profiles, scene summaries, popular articles, ads and posters for online (social) and print distribution.
Conflict in the Process of Normalizing Prison (supervisor: Prof. Ashley Rubin) Students interested in prisons, history, and a measure of interpersonal drama will learn how to conduct content analyses of archival data. This project explores the lobbying efforts and motivations of penal reformers in nineteenth-century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The team will review one influential penal reform society’s meeting minutes and identify and document instances of specific themes or patterns of behavior. This work will enable us to examine the sometimes-contentious relationship between the penal reform society and local prison administrators, and what role competition between them played in motivating the reform society’s actions.
Artificial Intelligence and Theatre: Creativity, Collaboration, Imitation (supervisor: Prof. Lawrence Switzky) Can computers create? While painters, sculptors, and musicians have begun to use machines not only as supports but as active collaborators, this project will focus specifically on the role of artificial intelligence in live theatrical performance. Another aim of this project is to investigate how imitation might be a form of intelligence uniquely shared by machines and theatre practitioners. Participants will conduct original research using library resources as well as interviews with curators, artists, and engineers in support of a book-length study (working title: Imitation Games: Artificial Intelligence and Theatre). Students will also curate online exhibitions of machine creativity and author short performances that combine human and machine intelligence using simple algorithms. All students from the arts, humanities and information sciences are invited to apply, but a willingness to play is essential.
Urban Construction as a Social Transformation Process in Ancient China (supervisor: Prof. Liye Xie) This project investigates rulers’ social engineering strategies in ancient China, particularly how they restructured societies through acts of urban construction 5000-3500 years ago in the heartland of Chinese civilizations. Students will receive training as they assist with (1) literature research on the place-making theory; (2) examining the history of settlement relocation and social transformation in and beyond ancient China; (3) writing metadata to facilitate reinterpretations of the archaeological evidence regarding population movement; and (4) drafting material for publication, which they will have the opportunity to co-author whenever appropriate. Students from anthropology, East Asian studies, political science, and relevant disciplines are especially welcome to apply. Knowledge of pre-Han Chinese history and politics is a benefit, but not required.
UT- St. George
Analogy as Armature in Global Art & Art History (supervisor: Prof. Mark A. Cheetham) This project examines our habit of making artworld analogies—the claim, for instance, that Indigenous painter Norval Morrisseau was "the Picasso of the North," or that Ai Weiwei is the "Warhol of China.” Students will build an archive of analogies by reading articles, monographs, exhibition and auction catalogues, and web materials. Some work can be done in English, but students with reading knowledge of Danish, Japanese, Mandarin and/or Cantonese are needed, as are those keen to investigate the psychology of analogy and metaphor.
Toronto’s Caravan: Civic Belonging and Spectacle in a Bygone Age of Multiculturalism (supervisor: Prof. Elizabeth Harney) This project will assess the visual histories of Caravan, an annual festival aimed at highlighting the cultural wealth of Toronto’s immigrant communities. Motored by multiculturalist policy, Caravan encouraged exchange, inclusivity and the civic embrace of difference. It’s detractors, however, feared Caravan was an “ethnic” spectacle, more concerned with controlling than celebrating diversity. But it left behind an immense multi-media archive ripe for analysis and relevant to current socio-political challenges. Students will conduct oral histories and work with community and media archives in order to digitally map Caravan’s spatial history and its longstanding effect on imagined and official histories of Toronto.
Big Data Analysis, the Long-Term Trajectory of Human Settlement, and Archaeological Patterns in Greek Prehistory (supervisor: Prof. Sarah Murray) This project assesses the potential value of a ‘big data’ approach to the study of ancient settlement dynamics. Research Assistants will be asked to generate data from primary source material and then to use that data to think creatively about the relationship between patterns in archaeological evidence and the nature of life in the past. The work of participants will include encoding archaeological sites in a Geographic Information System (GIS), using the detailed diachronic data in the GIS to construct long-term human narratives, and critically assessing these narratives and the utility of a big data approach in the context of Greek archaeology. Familiarity with the Greek language (ancient or modern), mapping software, and/or data analysis techniques would be useful, but not essential, skills for participants to bring on board.
The Social Life of News Stories: Tracing the Digital Dissemination of Israeli English Online News (supervisor: Prof. Alejandro I. Paz) How are trust and credibility created or eroded in today’s rapid digital dissemination of news? Part of a multi-year study, this project examines this question by considering how Israeli English online news disseminates through other news sites, especially in the North Atlantic. This project seeks to improve existing methodologies for understanding dissemination (e.g., network visualizations or quantitative measures) by looking at the practices of citation that go into current journalism and its offshoots—to discover the social life of news stories. We will experiment with digital tools to see how stories that originate in Israeli journalism gain or lose credibility as they are cited by other news outlets. No prior knowledge of digital tools is required.
How Do We Perceive and Talk Our Parents’ Home Language? The Case of Heritage Speakers of Azorean Portuguese (supervisor: Prof. Anabela Rato) The project aims to study the phonological competence of heritage speakers of Azorean Portuguese. The involvement of the undergraduate researchers in the project includes becoming familiar with the history of Portuguese immigration to Canada and reviewing relevant studies on the phonological development of a heritage language. They will also gain practical experience in designing an experimental study and will pilot the speech perception and production tasks with a small group of heritage speakers. In sum, researchers will become familiar with experimental methods for the study of bilingual speech and obtain practical experience for carrying out individual research.
Canada Declassified: Unlocking the Nuclear Vault (supervisor: Prof. Timothy Andrews Sayle) Participants will be among the first scholars to work with a recently declassified collection of formerly Top Secret documents related to Canada and nuclear weapons in the Cold War. Students will take responsibility for a series of records, comb through the declassified files, and select and extract documents they find most useful for explaining their topic. They will arrange these diplomatic cables, memoranda to Cabinet, intelligence assessments, and polling data for online publication on our University of Toronto Libraries-hosted website “Canada Declassified.” The digital exhibits will allow other students and scholars to work with these newly declassified documents. Students will have unique access to a previously secret part of Canadian history, learn about declassification, and gain experience in the digital humanities.
The Birth of Modern Obscenity Law (supervisor: Prof. Simon Stern) This project involves research on nineteenth-century legal cases, statutes, and newspaper articles, for a study on obscenity prosecutions. Students will look at how these prosecutions were reported in the papers, what kinds of works were prosecuted, and in what way (e.g., was the author or publisher charged criminally, or was it only a seizure of books or other printed material, with no criminal prosecution). Students will work with primary sources in full-text databases of newspapers and legal decisions, and occasionally with printed sources in the Fisher Rare Book Library. Training will be provided on search strategies and the interpretation of the findings.
Activating Objects (supervisor: Prof. Erin L. Webster) In 1982, Dr. Lillian Malcove donated over 500 historical objects to the University of Toronto. Ranging from prehistoric stone figurines to drawings by Picasso and his contemporaries, they represent a significant wealth of opportunity for undergraduates to engage in object-based research. Students participating in this project analyze contemporary display theories and practices, investigate the use of technology (digital and otherwise) in museum collections, and evaluate effective modes of communication about these objects. Our study includes field trips to investigate display practices across local institutions, and visits or talks with local museum professionals to understand current best practices and to broaden awareness of audience-driven strategies for activating engagement with collections.
Discovering the Dictionary: Paul the Deacon’s ‘De Significatione Verborum’ in 15th-c. Italy (supervisor: Prof. Jarrett Welsh) What can Latin manuscripts tell us about the discovery and diffusion of learning before the printing press? Students will help write the history of one venerable piece of scholarship in the Italian Renaissance by drawing out relationships between manuscripts, tracing from their texts the history of those books and their owners, and extending methodologies for rapid evaluation of manuscripts. We will explore how one text spread in scholarly circles, how it was revised and supplemented, and what it tells us about the revival of classical learning. Knowledge of Latin, although helpful, is not necessary to participate fully in the project.