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An Award-Winning Fall for English

English Faculty Recipients of Major Grants and Awards
January 16, 2017

The Fall 2016 term has been truly remarkable for the number of awards received by faculty members in the Department of English at Ryerson University.

Two major five-year Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada Insight Grants were awarded to faculty in English. The first was awarded to research partners Dr. Lorraine Janzen Kooistra and Dr. Dennis Denisoff (a former Ryerson professor now based at the University of Tulsa), who have been working together on digital humanities research and aesthetic magazines since 2005. “Visualizing the Unmarked: The Social Politics of Fin-de-Siècle Periodicals and Digital Humanities Markup Practices” aims to develop theoretical models and coding practices that will illuminate the cultural diversity of contributors to these magazines. Many of these writers and artists had key aspects of their identities – such as gender, sexuality, nationality, and even name – erased from history; this project recuperates these characteristics by addressing the significance of their personal and political expressions in the literature and art of aesthetic periodicals. In this second phase of their peer-reviewed electronic resource, The Yellow Nineties Online (, external link), the research team will produce digital editions of four magazines of the 1890s whose innovative material features highlight a complex politics of individual and group identities: The Evergreen, The Savoy, The Dial, and The Green Sheaf.  Working with them are collaborators Jason Boyd (Ryerson, English), MJ Suhonos (Ryerson Library), Leslie Howsam (University of Windsor, History/Ryerson Centre for Digital Humanities), and Christopher Keep (Western University, English), as well as a dynamic team of research assistants, all of whom are Student Research Fellows at the Centre for Digital Humanities (

The second Insight Grant was awarded to Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture and Professor of English Dr. Irene Gammel for "Operation Canada: Toward a Theory of the War Diary." In collaboration with Veterans Affairs Canada, this project explores the vast body of personal diaries kept during the First World War, including those by culturally diverse frontline soldiers (such as First Nations, Francophone, African-Canadian, Chinese, Indian, and Japanese), and by surgeons, nurses, and orderlies. The project also includes diaries by home-front workers in factories, family farms, and the Red Cross. Combined, these voices and family archives of textual, visual, and material artefacts represent an important part of Canada’s heritage. By engaging theories of memory, commemoration, and trauma, "Operation Canada" will reach multiple audiences through a scholarly monograph, a collaborative collection of essays, an online and analog selection of diaries, as well as a cross-Canada exhibition. The project involves local and international scholars as well as the Ryerson Library, and centrally features a rigorous training and development component for students in several programs in both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Communication and Design. Dr. Gammel explains, “The potential impact of this study of textual and visual diaries is huge. Engaging scholars, students and Canadians not only in commemoration but in critical thinking regarding the Great War, and war and peace in general, will be a fitting tribute to the centenary of the First World War.”

These faculty grant-winners are joined by faculty who have received awards this term. Distinguished and prolific scholar Dr. Ruth Panofsky is the recipient of the 2016 Rosa and the late David Finestone Canadian Jewish Studies Award for Best Book in English or French, one of the J. I. Siegel Awards presented by the Jewish Public Library of Montreal. The award recognized Dr. Panofsky's The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington: A Critical Edition (2 volumes, University of Ottawa Press). Waddington (1917-2004) was an important Jewish Canadian poet. In her acceptance speech, Dr. Panofsky said winning the award was "a terrific honour. The Award recognizes the achievement and lasting importance of Waddington’s verse for Canada. It also validates the editorial work that went into the production of a two-volume edition that spanned more than 1100 pages. This Award will help bring renewed attention to poet Miriam Waddington—also as a translator of poems from Yiddish into English—which is precisely what I had hoped to achieve in bringing my edition to light. The Award also signals the editor’s major role in showcasing the contribution of a key Jewish writer to Canada’s literary heritage."

Dr. Panofsky was further recognized for her record of scholarship as the recipient of the 2016 Sarwan Sahota Ryerson Distinguished Scholar Award, the most prestigious research award at Ryerson. Joining Dr. Panofsky as Ryerson award winners are Dr. Sarah Henstra and Dr. Paul Chafe, who each were awarded two of the four 2016 Dean’s Teaching Awards (Faculty of Arts), and Dr. Colleen Derkatch and Dr. Nima Naghibi, who each were awarded one of the three 2016 Dean's Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity Awards (Faculty of Arts). Dr. Derkatch recently published Bounding Biomedicine: Evidence and Rhetoric in the New Science of Alternative Medicine (University of Chicago Press), and Dr. Naghibi recently published Women Write Iran: Nostalgia and Human Rights From the Diaspora (University of Minnesota Press). Dr. Naghibi's book has been covered in a number of mainstream media outlets, external link, opens in new window.