Dr. Alena Buis

Dr. Alena Buis
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Art History & Visual Studies

PhD Queen’s University, MA Concordia University, BFA Concordia University

Area of expertise

17th century Dutch visual and material culture, Canadian art histories, open education, pedagogy, scholarship of teaching and learning for art history

Brief biography

In 2013 I completed my PhD in Visual and Material Culture at Queen’s University. My SSHRC funded dissertation research focussed on the circulation of domestic material culture in early modern Dutch trade networks. Previously I received an MA in Canadian Art History from Concordia University. My recent publications on pedagogy include a chapter on open educational practices in The Teaching the Ancient World Handbook, a post for Art History Teaching Resources Weekly and a Special Issue of the Sixteenth Century Journal “Teaching the Early Modern in the Era of COVID-19”. I am also one of the founders of Open Art Histories (OAH) a SSHRC-funded collective, committed to building a generative and supportive national network for teaching Canadian art or art history in Canada and addressing pressing pedagogical challenges, including globalizing art history, decolonizing the discipline and using OER/OEP to advance accessibility and inclusion. 

Teaching has helped me to clarify my own research and has been an important aspect of my professional development. With a wide range of personal, academic and professional interests, I have taught everything from horseback riding lessons to advanced university courses. From these experiences I have grown passionate about enhancing the learning experience, supporting fellow educators and building connections, opportunities, and partnerships that foster exceptional results. I am passionate, dynamic and curious in my learning and endeavour to bring these qualities into my teaching. I encourage students to be creative in their research, thoughtful in their questioning, and clear in their expression. My teaching philosophy is innovation based and student centred. It embraces diversity, promotes active learning and encourages critical thinking.


Doctor of Philosophy in Art History (2008-2013)

Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) Supervisors: Stephanie Dickey and Janice Helland “Homeliness and Worldliness: Materiality and the Making of New Netherland and New York”

Master of Canadian Art History (2006-2008)

Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec) Supervisor: Catherine MacKenzie
 “Ut pictura poesis: EB Greenshields’ Collection of Hague School Paintings”

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (With Distinction) Major Art History (2003-2006)
Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec)


2013- Instructor Art History and Religious Studies Department, Langara College

Modern Art I & II (AHIS 1301 & 1302)

Critical History of Photography (AHIS 1219)

Women, Art, and Society (AHIS 1216)

Nineteenth Century Art History (AHIS 1113)

History of Western Art I & II (AHIS 1114 & 1214)

Visual Culture I & II (AHIS 1112 & AHIS 1212)


2015- Instructor Fine Arts Department Kwantlen Polytechnic University

History of Western Art: Prehistoric to Renaissance (AHIS 1120)

History of Western Art: Renaissance to 20th Century (AHIS 1121)

Introduction to Film Studies (ARTH 1130)

Contemporary Art (ARTH 2222)

History of Photography (ARTH 3140)


2010-2011 Sessional Instructor Art History Department Concordia University

Topics in 17th and 18th Century Art and Architecture (ARTH 365)

Topics in Renaissance Art and Architecture (ARTH 364)


2010 Teaching Fellow Art History Department Queen’s University

Canadian Art in the 20th Century (ARTH 339)


2021  Co-Editor of CanadARTHistories OER (Forthcoming)

2021  Mentor at KPU’s Open Educational Research Institute

2021  Leadership for Langara’s participation in the UNSDG Open Pedagogy Fellowship

2020  Open Langara Open Textbook Development Grant
         Art and Visual Culture: Prehistory to Renaissance
Art and Visual Culture: Renaissance to 20th Century

2019- Open Langara Advisory Committee

2019- Open Educational Resources Fellow



2021  Open Art Histories eCampus Ontario Digital Strategy Grant ($90,000)

2020  Open Art Histories SSHRC Connection Grant ($20,000) 

2020  VCC Student Union Award for Academic Achievement ($500)

         Open Langara Open Textbook Development Grant ($1500)
         Langara College ARC Teaching Release for Scholarly Development ($13,000) 
         Langara College ARC Grant ($3000)

2012  Winterthur Museum Dissertation Fellowship ($7000 USD)

2011  Alfred Bader Travel Scholarship - The Netherlands ($30,000)

         SSHRC Michael Smith Travel Scholarship - Fordham University ($6000)

         New Netherland Institute Student Scholar Research Grant ($5000 USD)

2010  Queen’s University Dean’s Travel Grant for Doctoral Research ($3000)

         Queen’s University Teaching Fellowship ($7500)

2009  Vojtech Jirat-Wasiutynski Memorial Travel Fund Scholarship ($300)

2008  SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarship ($105, 000)

Queen’s University Tri-Council Award ($5000)

2007  SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship ($18,000)

2006  Concordia University J.A. de Seve Entrance Fellowship ($5000)

2005  Concordia University Fine Arts Bursary ($2000)




2021           Facilitating Equitable & Culturally Responsive Learning Online (Educause)

2021           Interculturalizing the Curriculum (Thompson Rivers University)

2020-2021    INTZ 5000 Langara’s Intercultural Engagement Program Cohort 1

2020-2021    Learning in a Digital Age Program (OERu)

2020           Certificate in Online and eLearning (VCC)

                  Indigenous Canada (University of Alberta/Coursera)

2019-2020    Minerva’s Women Leading the Way Cohort 13

2014-2018    Provincial Instructor Diploma Program (VCC)



“Transformational Learning” Looking Back, Thinking Forward – Langara’s Academic Leadership Conference,” June 23, 2021.

“Open Art Histories: Re-Imagining How We Teach Visual and Material Culture,” Open Ed 2020 Online, November 11, 2020. 

“Open Art Histories” Workshop for the University of Toronto Art History Teaching Group, Online, November 6, 2020.

“Teaching Online: Tricks and Treats” Facilitating Learning Online BCcampus October 30, 2020.

“Research Presentation,” Langara’s Scholarly Activity Steering Committee Meeting, October 23, 2020.

“Open Art Histories,” Open in Action: Tales from 5 Institutions BCcampus, October 21, 2020.

“Pedagogy Caucus Risky Business: The Stakes for Visual Culture in the 21st Century,” UAAC Annual Conference Online, October 16, 2020.  

“PD/CAS Open Practices in Challenging Times” co-organizer UAAC Annual Conference Online, October 15, 2020.

“Bite-sized Learning for Busy Educators: Introducing the Open Education Challenge Series,” co-presenter, Langara College, September 25, 2020.

“Open Pedagogical Practices in Art History Classrooms,” Open Week, Langara College, Vancouver, March 5, 2020.  

“Going Apesh*t for Visual Culture” DASH Langara College, Vancouver November 20, 2020.

“Art History Pedagogy Caucus: Beyond the Slide Test – (Re)assessment and Evaluations,” Universities Art Association of Canada, Quebec City, October 24-27, 2019.

“Girls just want to have fun(damental rights)” Gender and Textile History,” Langara College, March 22, 2016.

Getting Time on our Side: A Pedagogical Experiment,” Attending to Early Modern Women: It’s About Time,” University of Wisconsin, June 18-20, 2015.

 “Objects on the Edge,” Birkshire Conference on the History of Women, University of Toronto, May 22-25, 2014. Panel organizer and chair.

“The Un-Houwelyk: Home and Hospitality in New Netherland and early New York,” The Society of Early Americanists 8th Biennial Conference. Savannah, Georgia, February 28- March 2, 2013.

Wilden Huysen: Sites of Exchange,” Emerging Scholars Round Table, New Netherland Institute, New-York Historical Society, October 4, 2013.

“Interiors and Identities: Investigating Spaces in Context,” Panel, University Art Association of Canada, Concordia University. November 1-3, 2012. With Johanna Amos.

“Professional Development Round-table: From Defence to Interview: How to Plan for Your First Job,” University Art Association of Canada, Concordia University. November 1-3, 2012. Session Chair with Sarah E.K. Smith

“Attending to Fishwives: Views from 17th Century London and Amsterdam,” Attending to Early Modern Women. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, June 21-23, 2012. With Christi Spain-Savage and Myra Wright.

“Imagining New Netherland,” New Scholars present New Research on New Netherland New Netherland Institute Annual Seminar. Schenectady, New York. September 14-15, 2012.

“Making Histories: Sanaugait and a New History of Inuit Women’s Cultural Production,” Imagining History: Canadian Women Artists History Initiative, Concordia University, Montreal, May 3-5, 2012. With Sarah E.K. Smith.



“Open Art Histories” Special Issue: Networks of Collaboration, Journal of Canadian Art History ed. Erin Silver and Elizabeth Cavaliere (Forthcoming).

“Review of Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons RACAR 46 no. 1 (2021) 107-109.

“Open access to ancient worlds: Why open practices matter” Teaching the Ancient World Handbook forthcoming (August 2020) from  ArchaeoPress' Access Archaeology.

“Roman Portraiture: #veristic #classicizing” Teaching the Ancient World Handbook forthcoming (August 2020) from  ArchaeoPress' Access Archaeology

“Art in Quarantine Assignment” Art History Teaching Resources Weekly (July 17, 2020) http://arthistoryteachingresources.org/2020/07/art-in-quarantine-assignment/

 “St. Corona: Teaching Art History During a Global Pandemic” Special Issue: Teaching the Early Modern in the Era of COVID-19 Sixteen Century Journal 51, no. S1 (2020).

“Attending to Fishwives: Views from Seventeenth-Century London and Amsterdam,” Early Modern Women: Remapping Routes and Spaces Ed. Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ashgate Press (2015).

Craft, Community and the Material Culture of Place and Politics, 19th-20th Century. Ashgate Press (2014). Edited with Janice Helland and Beverly Lemire.

“Re-Constructing the Dutch House: Louise Crowninshield and Early Preservation Communities” Craft, Community and the Material Culture of Place and Politics, 19th-20th Century. Ashgate Press (2014).

“Sanaugait in Nunavut,” Journal of Modern Craft 6 no. 2 (July 2013), 187-204. With Sarah E.K. Smith.

“Trifling Things: The Sara Lewes Memorial Lepel and Vork,” Dutch Crossing, 36, no. 3, (November 2012). With Kevin Brown.

“Review of Dutch New York Between East & West: The World of Margrieta van Varick,Material Culture Review, (Spring 2012) 68-77.

“Imagining New Netherland: An Art Historian’s Perspective on the Visual Culture of New Netherland,” de Halve Maen 85 no. 4 (Winter 2012).

“‘A Story of Struggle and Splendid Courage’ Anne Savage’s CBC Broadcasts of The Development of Art in Canada,Professional Practices: Canadian Women Artists. Eds. Janice Anderson and Kristina Huneault. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2012, 106-131.

“Introduction to Craft, Creative Work and Networks of Indigenous Knowledge,” Special Issue of Cahiers métiers d’art*Craft Journal 5 no. 1 (Fall 2011). With Sarah E.K. Smith.

“Interview with Theresie Tungiluk” Inuit Art Quarterly 26 no. 2 (Summer 2011): 28-32. With Sarah E.K. Smith.

“Thread, Fur and Hair: Preserving Inuit Histories through Textiles,” Cahiers métiers d’art*Craft Journal 2 no. 4 (May 2011): 124-132. With Sarah E.K. Smith.

“The Raw Materials of Empire Building: Depicting Canada’s “Home Children,” Depicting Canada’s Children. Ed. Loren Lerner. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press, 2009, 133-151.

“Étude de cas de l’Homme au Kayak : La façon don’t nous considérons les objets dans une collection de métiers d’art/ A Case Study of the Kayak Man: How Do We Think About Objects in Craft Collections,” Cahiers métiers d’art*Craft Journal 3 no. 1 (Fall 2009): 7-23.

“Tout sur l’Alberta/ Definitely All about Alberta” Cahiers métiers d’art*Craft Journal 2 no. 1 (Summer 2008): 98-103.

“Le côté pratique de la décoration: Borduas et l’École du meuble/ The Practical Side of Decorating: Paul-Émile Borduas at the École du meuble,” Cahiers métiers d’art*Craft Journal 1 no. 2 (Winter 2008).

“...Where the horse serves only as a grand base for the elevation of the ruler. Anthony van Dyck’s Equestrian Portraits of Charles I,” Concordia University Journal of Art History. (June 2005.) http://art- history.concordia.ca/cujah