Co-op spins student into published author

Graduate Studies, Humanities

- Kaleigh Woolford


Published author and master’s graduate are two things Elizabeth Bassett can add to her résumé as she crosses the stage at this June’s convocation ceremony. As an English student focusing on Victorian literature, Elizabeth found the perfect way to blend her studies with hands-on learning during her time at UVic.

“I’ve loved reading and studying literature since before I started university,” says Bassett. After completing an undergraduate English degree at Vancouver Island University, she wasn’t ready to leave her love of literature behind. She chose UVic for the reputation of the Victorianists in the English department (getting to live in Victoria, she says, was just a bonus). She defended her essay in April: a focus on the narrative structure of Anne Brontë’s novel Agnes Grey.

As if working on a master's essay wasn’t enough, Bassett spent the last semester of her degree working as an archival assistant for the South Vancouver Island Dance Archives (SVIDA), a unique placement she found through UVic’s co-operative education program. While working for SVIDA, a collection of dance-related holdings housed in the studios of Dance Victoria, she spent her time researching and cataloguing the archive’s holdings, interviewing retired dancers and dance teachers, and writing about Victoria’s rich dance history. She also helped organize a photo exhibition that was featured at the Royal Theatre.

But perhaps Bassett’s most notable achievement from her co-op work term is the way in which her research is being celebrated. Six of the biographies she wrote about early dance teachers from Victoria are being published in a book called Dancing on the Island: Six Women Who Shaped Dance on South Vancouver Island, Canada. “The women included in the book have led such inspiring lives and have experienced such important careers,” she says. “I’m glad I had the chance to help document their achievements for future dancers, researchers and archivists.”

Her work will make the information in the archives more available to the community, and she feels honoured to have worked on the project. The book is being published by Dance Victoria, and Bassett continues to work with her co-op employer on the final edits. “I think it’s so important to keep challenging yourself to learn new things,” she says, reflecting on her work term. “Co-op provided me with a rewarding experience that gave me the opportunity to learn so much.”

When thinking about her future, Bassett is excited by the possibilities. “I am interested in pursuing archival studies, or a job that requires researching and writing,” she says. She also has a love for teaching, another avenue she’s considering. For the moment, her experience at Dance Victoria has this new grad wanting to keep her options open. With a degree, a book and invaluable work experience under her belt, there’s no doubt that there will be plenty of opportunities on the horizon. But for right now? “I’m still processing the exciting fact that I’m going to have a little book with my name on it.”


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Keywords: convocation, alumni, English, literature, community, graduate research

People: Elizabeth Bassett

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