The Jamie Cassels Undergradute Research Awards are eligible to students in full time studies at 3rd and 4th year. Students research their chosen topic under the mentorship of a faculty member.

JCURA winners from the English Department in 2014 - 2015 are:

Katherine Goertz (Dr. Misao Dean supervisor)

"For this research project, I will focus on the question of Canadian identity. In “Geography Lessons: On Being an Insider/Outsider to the Canadian Nation” Himani Bannerji asserts that the Canadian identity is based upon racist presumptions that cannot be supported by history. While being Canadian is associated with the “whiteness” of European settlers, Canada as a nation developed through the violent occupation of First Nations lands. Since early settlement, white Canadians have enshrined the Frontier myth to rationalize their continued occupation. In more recent years, the idea of “multiculturalism” has disguised the enduring racism in the Canadian identity. Through my research, I aim to gain a better understanding of what led to the Canadian national identity and discover how it contributes to the problem of racism. This research opportunity will also allow me to unearth important information for my honours graduating essay.

In order to better understand the relationship between early settlers and First Nations communities, I will consider works of fiction like Shoot! by George Bowering and Discovery of Strangers by Rudy Wiebe, which re-imagine early interactions between settler and First Nations communities. I will also consider major historical events, such as the Delgamuukw decision, as examples of political decisions that further enshrined Canadian racism. I also plan to examine various pertinent works of non-fiction, including The Burden of History by Elizabeth Furniss, If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? by J. Edward Chamberlin, White Civility by Daniel Coleman and The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.”

James Kendrick (Dr. Sheila Rabillard supervisor)

“A subject which is currently emerging in scholarship of Anton Chekhov is the examination of “Chekhov mutations” – adaptations which subvert, reimagine, or reconfigure elements and moments from Chekhov’s drama, for example, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. After Shakespeare, Chekhov is the most widely performed playwright worldwide, so it is no surprise that his influence on other playwrights has been wide-reaching and long-lasting. Nevertheless, because books and articles analyzing Chekhov adaptations have only recently gained prominence, and because our definition of adaptation is itself the subject of current academic discussion, there is still much to explore. Notable American playwright Tennessee Williams called Chekhov the sole literary influence on his dramatic works – yet for the most part only one of his plays, The Notebook of Trigorin, is discussed as an adaptation. I intend to build on the foundation of studies in “Chekhov mutations” in order to come to a new understanding of Williams’ other works, particularly A Streetcar Named Desire. My research goals will be threefold: 1) to provide a fresh reading of one or more familiar plays by Tennessee Williams, 2) to interrogate the nature of adaptation in dramatic texts, and 3) to question the relationship between adaptation and originality in literature, especially with regards to works which come to be considered “great”. Some possibilities for research materials include: the plays of both Chekhov and Williams, work by Linda Hutcheon and others on adaptation theory, articles and reviews on both playwrights, and the letters of both playwrights."

Tye Landels (Dr. Richard van Oort supervisor)

“In his major tragedies, Shakespeare puts his protagonists in ethically ambivalent situations: Hamlet confronts revenge; Othello confronts jealousy; Macbeth confronts usurpation. In each instance, the conflicted tragic hero must make an ethical decision regarding the right course of action. Invariably, the tragic hero makes a poor ethical decision, as is evidenced by the tragic events that follow his decision. Shakespeare’s major tragedies in this way function as ethical case studies, prompting the audience to judge the ethical decision of the protagonist from an ironic distance.

This research project will explore the anthropological implications of engaging with Shakespeare’s plays as ethical case studies. My working hypothesis is that Shakespeare’s major tragedies function as ethical self-discovery procedures for the reader/viewer. The ethical case studies presented in such plays as Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth resonate with the reader/viewer’s own ethical struggles and subsequently inform his/her ethical beliefs and actions. Shakespeare’s major tragedies therefore contribute to the anthropological study and development of ethical belief systems.

Though not new in itself, such an anthropological approach to Shakespeare departs from the materialist and historicist critical approaches that have dominated recent Shakespeare criticism. In pursuing this research project, I shall revisit the work of nineteenth-century critics such as William Hazlitt, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats, whose romantic or “proto-anthropological” approaches to Shakespeare anticipate my own. I shall also consult more recent critics such as Harold Bloom, Anthony Nuttall, and Michael Bristol, whose works represent a revival of romantic or anthropological approaches to Shakespeare.”

Brianna Wright (Dr. Janelle Jenstad and Dr. Kim McLean Fiander supervisors)

"The Map of Early Modern London (MoEML) project has digitized and made available to students and researchers the c. 1560s woodcut map of London known as the Agas map. However, this is only one of numerous early modern maps that depict the city before and after the Great Fire of 1666. In order to expand on MoEML’s work, I will compile a database of early modern maps of London between c. 1550 and c. 1700. My work will include information about each map’s date, medium, dimensions, repository location, and the identity of its creators (cartographers and engravers), and will also highlight significant features of each map. In addition, in order to demonstrate the transformation London underwent during this era, I will select one specific site in the city and trace its changing depiction on the various maps in the database. My project has the potential to be published on the MoEML website, allowing researchers to swiftly locate cartographical material on early modern London, correctly identify topographical changes in the city, and confidently use the many resources of MOEML in new and different ways."