Mount Allison professor receives national funding to explore diverse approaches in Western literary and visual culture

05 May 2020

Dr. Lauren Beck to lead team of 12 international scholars providing different perspectives in the arts, literatures

SACKVILLE, NB – Dr. Lauren Beck, Mount Allison professor in Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and Canada Research Chair in Intercultural Encounter is the recipient of a New Frontiers Research Fund (NFRF) Grant. The $250,000 grant, announced this spring, seeks to look at increasing diversity and perspectives in traditional Western-based studies around the arts, literatures, and history.

L_Beck_NFRFMay2020Beck is leading the two-year project, Indigenous Approaches to the Western Literary and Visual Canon, in collaboration with a 12-person team of scholars from across Canada, the United States, and the U.K. The international group aims to provide context around literary and visual canons and bring more diverse perspectives to these fields.

“Historically, when you look at these fields and academic interpretation around them in North America and Europe, they are quite Westernized. Many accounts are written from and for a Settler perspective,” says Beck. “Our team would like to see different viewpoints better recognized in these historical studies, such as those of Indigenous peoples and women. For example, how can Shakespeare be read through an Indigenous lens, how is this experience different based on historical and societal perspectives, do we still value Shakespeare in the same way after performing an Indigenous reading?”

The group is aiming to produce a ‘go to’ resource, sharing different methodological approaches for academics, researchers, and educators over the next two years.

“Our team is made of Indigenous and Settler academics, bringing some very different and important perspectives to the work,” says Beck. “There are a number of different educational experiences and age ranges represented in the group as well. We will also be involving students from across participating universities, including Mount Allison, to assist in this research.”

Beck’s project is part of the NFRF’s Exploration Stream, which focuses on initial collaboration projects with a focus on interdisciplinary research. At Mount Allison, her work has included a number of interdisciplinary partnerships as a scholar in Hispanic studies and literature and teaching courses in Visual and Material Culture, which Mount Allison recently added as a degree minor and embedded certificate program.

A transatlantic scholar, Beck was named the Canada Research Chair in Intercultural Encounter in 2017 and, through this appointment, helped to establish the Centre for Early Modern Visual Culture, housed in the R.P. Bell Library at Mount Allison. This project also included an exhibition around maps, titled Canada before Confederation: Early Maps and Exploration, which was displayed on campus and at several museums across North America. Beck has since taken this work and created a second-year course, Maps and Empire, at Mount Allison.

About the National Frontiers Research Fund

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee designed the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) following a comprehensive national consultation, which involved Canadian researchers, research administrators, stakeholders and the public. NFRF is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, which is housed within the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), on behalf of Canada’s three research granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and SSHRC.

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