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Kathryn Church

Associate Professor
EducationBA; MA; PhD
OfficeSally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health, Room SHE-572
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 4592
Areas of ExpertiseMad Studies; the Mad movement; New social movements; Engaged academics; Institutional ethnography; Arts-informed inquiry and public dissemination; Critical autobiography; Dress and dress practices; Writing; Narrative

I am an Albertan social democrat, a small town girl turned urban loft dweller, and a feminist who likes clothes. I am an academic who resists Grand Theory, a writer whose best stuff goes into email, and a lifelong learner. Currently in my second term as director of Disability Studies, I studied Psychology at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Sociology at OISE/ University of Toronto during radical periods in the history of these departments. Neoliberalism notwithstanding, I still believe in the possibilities that academia offers for personal transformation and social justice. A foundational contributor to the field of Mad Studies, I started by studying the “unsettling relations” that psychiatric survivor involvement produces for professional practice. In the 1990s, as an independent researcher, I documented the knowledge that survivor-led organizations produce through community economic development. Amongst my “publications” you will find a dozen plain-text documents written for that community, and an NFB documentary film called Working Like Crazy. As a researcher I connect dilemmas from everyday life with arts-informed knowledge dissemination often through exhibition. My curatorial projects include Fabrications: Stitching Ourselves Together, an inquiry into the domestic construction of wedding dresses in western Canada (1999-2007), and Out from Under (with Frazee and Panitch), an activist disability history created from collective storying of 13 ordinary objects.

(Reduced load due to administration)

●      DST 99: Final Independent Study

Previous courses:

●      DST 88: Research Methods in Disability Studies

●      DST 613: Strategies for Community Building

Collaborator on the following studies:

  • Inclusive early childhood service system project. SSHRC partnership development grant (K. Underwood)
  • Bodies in Transition: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life. SSHRC Partnership Grant (C. Rice & E. Chandler)
  • Promoting Human Flourishing in the Context of Medical Assistance in Dying. (M. Bach)

Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember

●      Abilities Arts Toronto, October 2008

●      Royal Ontario Museum, April - July 2008

●      Cultural Olympiad, Paralympic Games, March 2010

●      Whitby Abilities Centre, May/June, 2013

●      Thames Valley District School Board, London, Ontario, 2014

●      Canadian Human Rights Museum, permanent exhibit, September 2014 forward


  • Church, K., Panitch, M., Frazee, C., & Livingstone, P. (Reprint in press). ‘Out from Under’: A brief history of everything. In Hansen, N., Hanes, R., & Driedger, D. (eds.) Untold Stories: A Canadian Disability History Reader. Canadian Scholars Press.
  • Landry, D. & Church, K. (2016). Teaching (like) crazy in a mad positive school: Exploring the charms of recursion. In Russo, J. & Sweeney, A. (eds) Searching for a Rose Garden: Challenging Psychiatry, Fostering Mad Studies. Monmouth, UK: PCCS Books, pp. 172 – 182.
  • Frazee, C., Church, K. & Panitch, M. (2016). Enshrined: The hidden history of a circus program. In C. Kelly & M. Orsini (eds.) Mobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture and Disability Activism in Canada. University of British Columbia Press, pp. 25 – 53.
  • Church, K. (2016). My dinners with Tara and Nancy: Feminist conversations on teaching for professional practice. In J. Gingras, P. Robinson, J. Waddell, and L. Cooper (eds.) Teaching as Scholarship. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, pp 75-87.
  • Church, K.  (2015). “It’s complicated:” Blending disability and Mad studies. In Spandler, H., Anderson, J., & Sapey, B. (eds.) Madness, distress and the politics of disablement. UK: Policy Press.
  • Church, K. (2012) Making madness matter in academic practice. In LeFrancois, B., Menzies, R., & Reaume, G. (eds) Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
  • Church, K., & Reville, D. (2012). Mad activism enters its fifth decade, in Choudry, A., Hanley, J., & Shragge, E., (eds.) Organizing: From Local to Global Justice. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 189 – 201.

Journal articles:

  • Reid, J., Landry, D., Voronka, J., Snyder, S., & Church, K. (submitted) Resisting normalization through the aesthetic of disability & mad arts, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies (Special Issue on Biopolitics of Art Education)
  • Church, K., Landry, D., Frazee, C., Ignagni, E., Mitchell, C., Panitch, M., Paterson, J. & Poirier, T. (2016) Exhibiting activist disability history in Canada: Out From Under as a case study of social movement learning. Studies in Adult Education, v. 48 (2), 194 to 209.
  • Lapum, J., Liu, L., Church, K., Hume, S., Harding, B., Wang, S., Nguyen, M., Cohen, G., & Yau, T. (2016 July) Knowledge translation capacity of arts-informed dissemination: A narrative study. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 1(1), 258-282.
  • Lapum, J., Liu, L., Hume, S., Wang, S., Nguyen, M., Harding, B., Church, K., Cohen, G., & Yau, T. (December 2015). Pictorial narrative mapping as a qualitative analytic technique. International Journal of Qualitative Methods,14, 1-15
  • Lapum, J., Yau, T., Church, K., Ruttonsha, P., & Matthews David, A (2015). Un-earthing emotions throughart: reflective practice using poetry and photographic imagery. Journal of Medical Humanities, 36 (2), 171-176.
  • Lapum.J., Yau,T., & Church, K. (2015). Arts-based research: Patient experiences of discharge. British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, 10 (2), 80-92
  • Canadian Helen Keller Award (Ryerson University, Out from Under), Canadian Foundation for Disabled Persons, 2015
  • David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility, Government of Ontario, 2015
  • Woman of Distinction Award, Ontario Confederation of Faculty Association’s, 2014
  • Innovative Teaching Award, Ryerson University, 2009
  • J.W. McConnell Curricular Innovation Award, Ryerson University, 2008
  • Access Award, City of Toronto (curatorial team), 2008
  • Award for Teaching Excellence, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University, 2006
  • Mayor’s Recognition Award, – Fine and Performing Arts – City of Red Deer, Alberta, Fabrications Exhibit team, 2000
  • Bronze Award of Excellence in Interpretation (Interior Exhibit) for “Fabrications”, Interpretation Canada, 1998