Dean, Misao



Phone number: (250) 721-7253
Department: English

Research description:

-Early Canadian literature (19th- and early 20th- centuries)
-Representation of Aboriginal peoples in literature
-Canoes and Canoeing in Canadian culture
-Women novelists
-Motorcycling in literature

Expertise Profile
Canadian literature expert and literary theorist Misao Dean's most recent book is about how Canadians use the canoe as a symbol in Canadian culture.

In Inheriting a Canoe Paddle, Dr. Dean looks at the symbolism of the canoe in Canadian culture. "People tend to look at the canoe as a non-controversial symbol, as a natural way for a person to enjoy the landscape," she says. "But it should also make people think about the Indigenous peoples of Canada and our responsibilities towards them."

"A lot of people talk about inheriting the canoe as a technology for engaging with the landscape," she says, "but it seems to me that using the word 'inheritance' is a way of smoothing over how we actually got the canoe. Certainly most First Nations know how they got here; they're very in tune with their history. But non-Indigenous people need to reflect on our history--on how we as individuals have participated in continuing the colonization of First Nations peoples."

Dr. Dean is also interested in why people enjoy reading. "In popular culture there has been such a distinction between the academic study of books and the pleasure one gets in reading them." She adds that students often won't study English because they fear that "tearing books to pieces" will decrease their love of reading. In reality, Dr. Dean says, literary research is an expression of that love.

Dr. Dean also wants students to gain strong research skills. In her 19th-century literature course, she asks students to only quote works written before 1920 so they can learn how to access 19th-century materials from the library.

Related Links
Misao Dean's Faces of UVic Research video:

Community projects

Early literature of British Columbia.
Early literary history of Victoria.

UVic Speakers bureau

Misao Dean takes part in the UVic Speakers Bureau.
More information about the Speakers Bureau can be found here.

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