JCURA projects

JCURA
Jennifer McClean with Dr. Hélène Cazes at the 2014 JCURA presentations.

The Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards (JCURA) offer an opportunity for exceptional undergraduate students to obtain direct research experience through completion of a research project and poster.

2019 JCURA Presentation by Emma Robertson

JCURA 2019

Hounds, Guardians, and Oracles: Dogs as symbols of the Middle Ages

Looking at medieval art, profane and sacred, at funerary sculptures, at drawings in the margins of manuscripts, at paintings or stained glass, one will encounter many dogs: of different sizes, colors, positions, and postures, they hold different symbolisms, representing in their contexts either loyalty or ferocity, either guardianship or aggression. The values and stories associated with dogs, a familiar pet but also a fearsome guardian and defender, intertwine classical myths inherited from Antiquity and Christian references.

Often evoked as a way to reflect human qualities which one should either fear or emulate, they also linked human beings and gods, keeping the gates of the underworld or guiding the souls of the departed to their afterlives. Dogs held sacred power as well as familiar values. This complexity offers an opportunity for the analysis of an aspect of medieval culture: the synthesis of symbols and representations from different cultures.

Through the use of primary sources —the Bible, European mythologies, medieval bestiaries, works of art— and secondary sources —works on animals in medieval art and culture —, the symbolic ambivalence of dogs as representations of friends, foes, and forewarnings will be explored. How can one recognize which type of symbolism to choose in a specific context: what is the significance of colour? of species? of posture? Which are the conventions to depict the good and bad dogs? Ultimately, are these medieval symbols still informing our own perception of dogs as symbolic representations?

View the full poster.


2018 JCURA student - Duncan Calveley

Amber in the Tomb; a connection between the Khitan and the Chinese afterlife.

"The tomb of the Princess of Chen of the Liao Dynasty of China, buried in the 11th century, contains an unusually high quantity of amber. The Liao Dynasty, ruled and founded by the Khitan people, was in the process of adopting Chinese cultural practices, including burial practices, which differs greatly from traditional Khitan burial and death practices. The Princess of Chen was buried in a Chinese way, incorporating some burial practices of the earlier golden age of China, the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). Placing the contents of the tomb of the Princess of Chen in the context of the contents earlier Chinese Tang tombs, contemporary Chinese Song (960-1279 CE) tombs, and the relationship between the Khitan people and the Chinese Empires, I aim to answer two questions. First, what does the contents of the Khitan Liao tombs, with focus on the amber, tell us about the Liao culture with regards to adopting and adapting Chinese customs and holding onto old traditions? Second, what was the significance of the presence of the amber to the Khitan Liao people, and to the Royal court at the time of the death of the princess? I am focusing on analysing the contents of the Tomb of the Princess of Chen, while also analysing contents of other Liao, Tang, and Song tombs for comparison between cultures."

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Tsung-Cheng Lin

View the poster.

This year the JCURA fair will be held on Wednesday March 7th from 11:30 - 3:00 in the UVic Student Union Building.
Opening remarks will be in the Michele Pujol Room.


2014 JCURA Presentations

This year, medieval studies student Jennifer McClean presented a poster titled "From Nymph to Maiden: The Lady of the Lake as Narrative Shape-shifter" and fellow medieval studies student Josef Méthot presented a poster exploring the role and impact of the Cistercian Order in Southern France.