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Visiting International Scholar Hosted by Faculty of Arts

PLEASE NOTE: The following blog entries represent an archive of events and initiatives undertaken during my tenure as Associate Dean of Arts. More up-to-date information can be found via the Office of Research and Graduate Studies Blog.


You are invited to join us on Tuesday morning for a special lecture from Dr. Dean Chan (Australia):


The Global Phenomena of Digital Gaming and Diasporic Communities: Graphic narratives, which include comic strips, graphic novels and webcomics, and range from manga to bande dessinée, are an increasingly diverse and dynamic part of global visual culture, especially as a medium for intercultural communication. This presentation brings Asian Canadian, Asian American and Asian Australian graphic narratives into dialogue and examines how they intersect and diverge, subject to differing histories of settlement, race relations and identity politics.

Hosted by Ashok Mathur & Will Garrett-Petts from the Faculty of Arts.

Tuesday February 7
Room 1015, IB
11:30am – 12:20pm.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Encourage your students to drop in and hear this international perspective on the phenomenon of graphic narratives.

Special thanks to Professor Terryl Atkins for opening up her Visual Culture class to our visiting guest speaker.

To see the full list of keynote speakers organized for TRU’s International Days, click here.

Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry

Call for Submissions: Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry

Cultural Mapping with Adelheid Mers

Cultural Mapping with Adelheid Mers

Cultural mapping, which spans many academic disciplines and methodologies, is informed by the observation that cultural phenomena are distributed spatially and that people experience the symbolic resources of their communities in spatial terms. While cultural mapping is firmly grounded in the world of academic disciplines and inquiry, it has a pragmatic dimension as well. In the Creative City Network of Canada’s Cultural Mapping Toolkit, for example, Cultural Mapping is defined pragmatically as “a process of collecting, recording, analyzing and synthesizing information in order to describe the cultural resources, networks, links and patterns of usage of a given community or group.” Cultural mapping is generally regarded as a systematic tool to identify and record local cultural assets—and these assets are thought of as “tangible” or quantitative (physical spaces, cultural organizations, public forms of promotion and self-representation, programs, cultural industries, natural heritage, cultural heritage, people, and resources) and “intangible” or qualitative (community narratives, values, relationships, rituals, traditions, history, shared sense of place). Together these assets help define communities in terms of cultural identity, vitality, sense of place, and quality of life.

Cultural mapping, then, is a theoretically informed research practice and a highly pragmatic planning and development tool.  But cultural mapping can also be viewed as a form of cultural production and expression. Mapping can itself be cultural—that is, animated by artists and artistic approaches to mapping collective and competing senses of place, space, and community. The Folkvine project in Florida (and the work of the Florida Research Ensemble generally); the memory mapping work of Marlene Creates and Ernie Kroeger; the storymapping of First Nations experiences in small cities documented by the Small Cities CURA; Map Art and Diagram Art from the Surrealists to the Situationists to the work of contemporary artists; Sound Mapping, sonic geographies, and acoustic ecology research: these alternative approaches to mapping culture and community are helping to expand and refine the possibilities for mapping as a form of cultural inquiry.

The editors of Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry seek submissions that address cultural mapping in all its forms and applications. Abstracts and inquiries should be sent by March 30, 2012 to Dr. W.F. Garrett-Petts, Faculty of Arts, Thompson Rivers University:

Editors for the refereed book publication (to be published jointly by the Centro de Estudos Sociais at the University of Coimbra, Textual Studies in Canada and the Small Cities Community-University Research Alliance): David MacLennan, W.F. Garrett-Petts, and Nancy Duxbury.

Centro de Estudos Sociais:

The Small Cities CURA:

New Arts Ad Campaign

We’ve been working with TRU’s creative services area to develop a new ad campaign for Arts, one featuring the success stories of our students and recent graduates. The theme: “It started with an Arts degree at TRU!”

Here’s an example featuring recent graduate Dasha Novak:

Ad in Canadian Art

Ad in Canadian Art

United Way!

Will GP & Marliss: Cutting the Associate Dean Down to Size!

Will GP & Marliss: Cutting the Associate Dean Down to Size!

Today was tie and pie day: Cut off the tie of your favourite (or least favourite) administrator or take a pie in the face.  I chose the tie, and enjoyed a thousand cuts from my friends in a good cause: raising funds for the United Way.

Halloween, Visual Arts Style

The annual Visual and Performing Arts party:


WGP, Donald Lawrence, and Darlene Kalynka pose (photo by Ernie Kroeger)

TRU Faculty and Students Co-Organize International Symposium

University of Coimbra, Portugal

University of Coimbra, Portugal

From September 26 to September 30, TRU faculty and students participated in a remarkable symposium and series of workshops exploring how artists and artistic interventions contribute to the planning and development of smaller communities.

Hosted by the University of Coimbra (established in 1290), TRU’s Small Cities CURA and the University of Utrecht co-organized the event—which included scholarly presentations by Doug Buis (Visual Arts),  Will Garrett-Petts (English Studies), Jim Hoffman (Theatre), Emily Hope (Visual Arts, student RA), Bonnie Klohn (Interdisciplinary Studies, student RA), Donald Lawrence (Visual Arts), David MacLennan (Sociology), Ashok Mathur (Journalism, Communication and New Media), Robin Reid (Tourism), and Gilles Viaud (Geography).

How can innovative artistic animation of public spaces contribute to building more sustainable cities?

Although there is no clear definition of a “sustainable city,” it is clear that communities must deal with complex, interrelated issues that encompass and intertwine environmental, cultural, social, and economic sustainability and resiliency. In our communities large and small, we experience a growing need to address these processes while bolstering and ensuring wide public participation in the development of new alternatives and ‘new social institutions’ to manage processes of social life. Artistic practices, interventions in public space, and public engagement strategies play significant roles in both illuminating and affecting positive cultural change and helping catalyze public participation in those transition processes that promise more sustainable cities and communities.

University of Coimbra Students

University of Coimbra Students

This international symposium promoted interdisciplinary knowledge exchanges and highlights practice-led research related to sustainable city-building and animation of public space, involving architects, theatre-makers, community artists, urban developers, researchers in many disciplines, and university teachers and students. Geographically, the event brought together presenters from Europe (Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), North America (Canada, United States), South America (Brazil), and the Pacific (Australia and New Zealand). Whether looking at essential principles, theories, functions, practices, models, or indicators, the symposium participants shared a common interest: exploring the multifaceted and increasingly vital connections among place, space, community, arts, engagement, sustainability and animation.

These exchanges were facilitated in two ways: (a) an international symposium, where participants shared their experiences and insights and discussed the challenges of the work; and (b) three workshops, where artists, architects, and researchers worked together, applying the research in community settings.

Doug Buis Leading Community Mapping Workshop

Doug Buis Leading Community Mapping Workshop

27-29 September 2011 – The International symposium provided a venue for participants to share and discuss good cases and theoretical approaches on the topic of how innovative artistic animation of public spaces can contribute to building more sustainable cities, with a focus on public engagement and the role of artists.

30 September 2011 – TRU faculty and students led an experiential Cultural Mapping Workshop on “Exploring Connections among Place, Creativity and Culture.” Cultural mapping is a visual and participatory method to develop and represent place-based knowledge that can also promote spatial literacy and place-rooted civic engagement.

30 September 2011 – An experiential Theatre Workshop on “Animation of Public Spaces through Innovative Artistic Practices” co-organized with the Utrecht School of the Arts and O Teatrão. The workshop focused on the exchange of practice-based knowledge and techniques to involve members of the public in creative and planning initiatives and projects related to the re-use and animation of the public realm in cities.

Donald Lawrence Setting Up Portable Camera Obscura

Donald Lawrence Setting Up Portable Camera Obscura

26-30 September 2011 – Students from the Theatre Department of the Utrecht School of the Arts, the Faculty of Humanities (Artistic Studies) of the University of Coimbra, and the ESEC (Superior School of Education) in Coimbra participated in a longer Students’ Theatre Workshop/Exchange co-organized by the Utrecht School of the Arts, Stut Theatre, and O Teatrão (Coimbra) in conjunction with the international symposium. This week-long experiment, entitled “Animation of Public Space: Artistic Intervention Experiments to Encourage Audiences to Co-Own Public Space in a Sustainable Way,”  was based on research on how theatre can be used to stimulate the participation of the public in the public spaces of smaller cities with an eye to enhancing community sustainability. It concludes with an experimental public event (evening of 30 September 2011). TRU professors Jim Hoffman and Ashok Mathur worked with the theatre students and contributed to the workshop exchange.

Collectively, these events served to bring together a wide range of provocative and interactive opportunities for exchange, learning, and expanding our imagination – all traits that are invaluably contribute to the process of collectively building more sustainable cities and communities.

Documenting Public Interaction with the Camera Obscura

Documenting Public Interaction with the Camera Obscura

We want to express a special thank you to the event partners who helped organize and bring this idea to life: the Small Cities Community-University Research Alliance at Thompson Rivers University, Canada; Utrecht School for the Arts, Utrecht, The Netherlands; European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centres (ENCACT) thematic area on “Urban Management and Cultural Policy of the City”; the University of Coimbra’s “Cities and Urban Cultures” MA and PhD programmes and Department of Architecture; O Teatrão, Coimbra; Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra (CAPC), Coimbra; and Stut Theatre, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

We also express our appreciation for the support received for this event from the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia – FCT), the Embassy of the Netherlands in Portugal (Embaixada do Reino dos Paises Baixos), the Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha de Coimbra, and the Museu d’Água de Coimbra.

As principal organizer Nancy Duxbury notes in a recent letter, “We are now in the process of wrapping up logistics and administrative details from the event, and preparing reports to funders. I am also beginning to draft text reflecting on key messages emerging from the event, for possible publication in a journal or on websites of organizing partners…

“Finally, as you know we have some support for the publication of a book from the event, with a possibility of perhaps a second book related to cultural mapping. Given the number of videos included in the presentations, we will also investigate how best to reflect these in final documentation.”

Text supplied by the Symposium Organizing Committee

Students Defeat Faculty in Inaugural Beach Ball Competition


This afternoon the Arts Student Mentors organized the inaugural Beach Ball Competition.

Faculty fought valiantly, but, at the end of the day, lost 6 goals to 2.

Faculty goalie and Theatre professor Robin Nichol blamed the wind; student mentor and honorary faculty team member Jessica Lee declared, “Next year we’re going start training camp earlier.”

Over a hundred faculty and students participated in what promises to be a much-contested annual event.[youtube][/youtube]

New Tradition Begins at TRU

Picture 4Our annual Orientation introduced the recipe for a new tradition at the University: the Orientation Coin was distributed to all new students enrolled in certificate, diploma, and degree programs. The coin is in part a souvenir of the “New Student Convocation” (a rehearsal of the convocation to come, and a wonderful opportunity to help students visualize the finish line) and in part a reminder for students to experience what TRU has to offer. But the coin is also designed as a possible gift: our Arts students are encouraged to keep the coin as a symbol of both their commitment to the University and the University’s commitment to them–with the aim, upon graduating, of giving the coin to someone who has made a significant impact on each student’s educational journey.

First-Year Arts Students Celebrate Orientation

First-Year Arts Students Celebrate Orientation

The New Student Convocation Ceremony

The New Student Convocation Ceremony

New Student Convocation

New Student Convocation

9/11 Forum

Picture 4TRU’s Philosophy, History, and Political Science Department will be hosting a public forum about 9/11 at the Student Union Building in the Boardroom from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, September 14th.

The forum will reflect upon the following:

· 9/11 conspiracy ?

· Moral effects?

· Political relevance?

· Historical relevance?

· Personal relevance ?

· What will the 20th anniversary be like ?

The principal speakers will be Dr. Jenna Woodrow, Philosophy;  Dr. Michael Gorman, History; Dr. Annie St. John-stark, History;  Dr. Terry Kading, Political Science; and Mr. Derek Cook, Political Science. All are invited to attend.

Arts Student Mentors Launch New Website

arts_mentors24182I’m pleased to announce that the Arts Student Mentors have developed their own website. We’ll be linking the site to the Arts pages soon, but it’s up now for your viewing.

The site was authored by three of the student mentors (Jessica P., Julie and Kelsey), under the direction of faculty members Dr. Jenna Woodrow and Dr. Liz Reimer; it features advice for first-year students, useful links (for program advising, registration information, Study Abroad options, and so on), and even career education material especially relevant for Arts majors.

The Arts Mentors support student engagement activities year-round, phoning in-coming students during the spring and summer, helping organize orientation events in September, and providing peer counseling during the year. In their own words: “We are a group of senior Arts students who have volunteered to aid new students in adjusting to both the Arts program and to University life.

What we do, and what we can do for you, is to make things easier as you adjust to life on campus. We are ready to provide the answers (or ways to find the answers) for any questions that you may have—from where you go to find refreshments on campus, to suggestions on how to handle a heavy course load, to where to go and/or who to ask about your academic future, or even about the city of Kamloops in general.”