Current NFC Administration and Fellows
The Northrop Frye Centre welcomes scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, areas of study, and experiences. Our Doctoral, Undergraduate, and Visiting Fellows contribute to the rich academic life of Victoria College.
Professor Robert Davidson, Ph.D (Cornell)
Director, Northrop Frye Centre
Bob Davidson is Professor of Spanish and Catalan Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Jazz Age Barcelona (U of Toronto Press, 2009; shortlisted for the Canada Prize in the Humanities) and The Hotel: Occupied Space (U of Toronto Press, 2018). His current work includes a study of material culture and early 20th-century Spanish and Catalan narrative (By and About Things) and a new research project entitled The Scent of Spain: Fragrance, Odour and Culture that considers key fragrances and scents that contributed to the Spanish olfactory environment from the beginning of the modern fragrance industry in the country to the early 2000s.
He is the founder and co-editor of UTP’s Toronto Iberic book series and has published work on different aspects of the Castilian and Catalan avant-gardes, cultural theory and film. In addition to directing the NFC, Prof. Davidson currently serves as Chair of the Manuscript Review Committee of University of Toronto Press. He takes his martini with a little extra vermouth and an olive.
Hayley Birss, M.A.
Special Projects & Events Coordinator
Hayley Birss is a Quest University Canada alumna where they studied Science & Technology Studies, and received their M.A. from the Institute of the History and Philosophy of Science & Technology at U of T. Their research interests center post-colonial studies of venture-capital, climate mitigation strategies, feminism, and environmental history. Prior to this, they worked in the agriculture technology start-up space and outdoor education.
The Northrop Frye Centre Doctoral Fellows are doctoral students registered in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto who are in the writing stage of their dissertation. In addition to mentoring undergraduate students and engaging with the intellectual community at Victoria College, the Doctoral Fellows present a public seminar on their doctoral research.
Aliju Kim (East Asian Studies)
Supervisor: Janet Poole
Aliju Kim (she/her) is a PhD Candidate in East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation examines the aesthetic sensibility of decadence as an analytic to index the paradoxical sensibility of a modernity in decline in Korean literature. More broadly, she is interested in exploring how decadence builds upon global processes of modernization and empires. Her other research interests include memory, space-time, and family sagas. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, drawing, and visiting art museums.
J Hughes (Department of English)
Supervisors: Claire Battershill & Adam Hammond
J Hughes (they/she) is pursuing their PhD in the Department of English and the Book History and Print Culture collaborative specialization. They hold an MA in English from the University of Maine-Orono and an MA in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. J’s research integrates artists’ books and experiential learning in their investigation of twentieth and twenty-first century experimental narratives whose methods of making and of reading foster activated readers.
J’s professional and creative experience in book arts research and education includes exhibition curation, public programming development, book design, and print production. In the past year, J has especially enjoyed making a Provisional Press with Professor Claire Battershill and sundry books and boxes with bookbinder Don Taylor.
Kate Russell (Cinema Studies Institute)
Supervisor: James Cahill
Kate J. Russell (she/her) is a PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto where she is writing her dissertation on John Waters and humour in cult cinema. Her writing appears in Monstrum and ReFocus: The Films of William Castle (University of Edinburgh Press, 2018), and is forthcoming in Velvet Light Trap and Discourse. She is also a co-managing editor for Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture.
Rhiannon Vogl (Department of Art History)
Supervisor: Elizabeth Legge
Rhiannon Vogl (she/her) is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Toronto.
Her research is broadly concerned with the intersections of art criticism and publishing with conceptual and postmodern art and on self-reflexive modes of art writing. Her dissertation focuses on the lesser-known fiction writing of art critic Lucy Lippard, and its present-day republication. This research was funded by a Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.
Before starting her PhD, Rhiannon was a curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada. You can often find her in running shoes exploring the city’s many ravines, paths and trails and searching out new and exciting cups of coffee.
The Northrop Frye Centre Undergraduate Fellows are undergraduate students at the University of Toronto working on an independent research project in the humanities or social sciences. In addition to conducting their research and engaging with the intellectual community at Victoria College, the Undergraduate Fellows will communicate the results of their research project at Vic Research Day at the end of the winter term.
Manuela Mora Castillo
Manuela Mora Castillo (she/her) is a third-year student double majoring in Political Science and History, with a minor in Latin American Studies. Working with Professor Luis van Isschot, Manuela is examining the implementation of the Colombian Peace Accords in the peripheral neighborhoods of Bogotá, the country’s capital city. The study aims to evaluate the extent to which these neighborhoods, whose growth is linked with Colombia’s history of internal displacement due to armed conflict, are impacted by the Accords and the country’s overall peace-building strategy. This research seeks to approach the city’s informal settlements as peace actors whose experiences are fundamental to achieving national conciliation.
Sara Hashemi (she/her) Sara is an incoming 5th year student studying psychology, criminology, and philosophy. Under the supervision of Professor Mary Mitchell and Danielle Van Wagner, an archivist in the criminology department, she will be working to examine the necessary role of archives in knowledge production in the field of sociolegal studies. She is particularly interested in examining topics at the intersection of disability justice, critical psychiatry, and social determinants of health.
Joël Ndongmi (he/him) is a fifth-year student at Victoria College studying Political Science, English, and Diaspora and Transnational Studies. His research project concerns how diasporic living unsettles the personal identity for subjects of colonial and postcolonial contexts. He endeavours to do this through a critical analysis of two fictional characters appearing in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and Marie-Elena John’s Unburnable. In his research, both novels will be analyzed considering Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. By putting these texts in conversation, Joël is interested in what the two novels reveal—and obscure—about the ways that disturbances in the experience of “home”—as place and as socio-linguistic space—result in a proliferating condition of “nervousness” for diasporic African people.
Seavey van Walsum
Seavey van Walsum (they/them) is a fourth year Literature & Critical Theory and Critical Solidarity & Equity Studies student. Their research focuses on the dynamics of institutional policy and personal/professional discretion in teacher and administrator's interpretations of transgender accommodation policies in high schools in the Greater Toronto Area. Their qualitative approach emphasizes the emotional impact of present policy on educators and administrators. To bolster the multidisciplinary aspects of this project, they are supervised by Professors Julia Forgie and Julie Moreau from the Education & Society Department and the Political Science Department.
The Northrop Frye Centre Visiting Fellows are scholars working on research projects in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. Visiting Fellows have access to the University of Toronto library system and the E.J. Pratt Library’s special collections. Visiting Fellows participate in the intellectual community at Victoria College and communicate the results of their own research in a public lecture organized by the Centre.
2023-2024 Visiting Fellows
Dr William Conklin
Professor of Law, University of Windsor
Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014, William Conklin has authored 7 books, co-edited 2 anthologies, was the chief editor for 6 volumes and the first editor-in-chief of the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, and authored over 70 peer-reviewed articles. His recent research and publications are preoccupied with the study of legal experience and especially the experiential senses of law shared by communities excluded from the dominant formal and state-centric sense of law. Drawing heavily from Phenomenology, his examples pertain to de jure, diplomatic and effectively stateless peoples as well as nomadic and quasi-nomadic communities.
Affiliated Research Projects
The Northrop Frye Centre Research Affiliate Program is a special opportunity that provides financial and administrative support for the research projects of Victoria College Fellows. The program is of special interest to Fellows who work with, or would like to work with, undergraduate Research Assistants.
Brian Bairgrie | A Systematic Review of the Literature on Public Trust
There is growing recognition that public trust is at a low ebb across a range of issues of public health concern, from the contribution to climate change of human activity, the safety of vaccines, and the effectiveness of public health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. This erosion of public trust is deeply troubling. Given that public support has a significant impact on the effectiveness of public health measures, an important (but much neglected) way of furthering the goal of developing resilient health systems that are able to weather future public health emergencies is research that focuses attention on the salient issues of trust, facilitates the validity of its measurement, and contributes to the identification of steps that are needed to build/re-build trust in public health.
The dearth of studies in the medical literature that include the concept of trust in the primary research question is remarkable, testifying that a thorough understanding of trust as it relates to public health is under-researched. To fill this gap, the objective of this project is to carry out a literature review that targets two questions: (1) how extant studies conceptualize the components of public trust (i.e., the perceived competence, expertise, and integrity of public health) as they influence the public’s response to public health measures; (2) how studies measure the concept of trust as a prominent factor in the public's acceptance of public health programs.
Julia Forgie | Examining Self-Efficacy for Online Teaching in the University Context
Given that few research initiatives (virtually none!) have investigated university instructors' efficacy for online teaching. particularly under the circumstances faced during the pandemic, this study will give insight into how university instructors' efficacy is different in the online context from the in-person context and specifically, if any areas of teaching efficiacy (efficacy in classroom management, instructional strategies, student engagement, technology use) are lacking in the online context. The results of this research can help to shape professional development and institutional training efforts that can target the actual needs of instructors to help build instructor efficacy for online teaching in the places where it's really needed, and ultimately positively enhance the learning outcomes of their students.
Employing a mixed-methods approach utilizing quantitative survey and validated rating scales, and the use of in-depth interviews, the study aims to explore university instructors' self-efficacy beliefs about their online teaching practice. As such, the study seeks to assess instructors' feelings of efficacy in classroom management, instructional strategies, student engagement, and technology use in teaching in an online format.
Andreas Motsch | A Critical Edition of Joseph-François Lafitau's Mœurs des Sauvages Amériquains Comparées aux Mœurs des Premiers Temps (1724)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has profoundly changed the way Canadians think about the relationship between settler-colonialists and indigenous people. This also affects academia where Native issues and intercultural relationships are demanding critical attention. While the debate remains focussed on urgent contemporary matters, the question how this system came into being in the first place is also worthy of a closer look.
My research bears on the Jesuit mission to “New France”, i.e. historically “the beginning of Canadian history”. How do we understand the Jesuit mission in the context of the “civilization and colonization” process? What motivated young clergy men to leave for a place they knew they might never return from? What did they learn about the indigenous peoples among whom they they lived and how did they share that knowledge? The mission to New France left remarkable traces in the European imaginary, but it also had a significant impact on the production of knowledge. In 1724 Joseph-François Lafitau published the first comprehensive ethnography of the Iroquois and I am collaborating on a critical edition of his monumental work. I am also researching the motivation of Jesuits to leave France by collaborating on the Digital Indideptæ database, an open access archival research tool which presents scans and transcriptions of the letters petitioning the order to leave for a mission.
Past NFC Fellows
Since 2015, the Northrop Frye Centre has become a cross-generational community of scholars working in different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
Past Doctoral Fellows
Eriks Bredovskis (History)
Hong Liu (Comparative Literature)
Colleen McDonell (English)
Morgan Moore (Medieval Studies)
Dur-e-Aden (Political Science)
Marina Dumont-Gauthier (Art History)
Nattapol Ruangsri (Italian Studies)
Filippo Sposini (IHPST)
Catia Dignard (Spanish and Portuguese)
Patrick Marshall (Cinema Studies)
Tavleen Purewall (English)
Robert Twiss (Comparative Literature)
Emily Doucet (Art History)
Billy Johnson (English)
Matthew Thompson (Cinema)
Roxanne Korpan (Religion and Book History and Print Culture)
Nicholas Feinig (Anthropology)
Chiara Graf (Classics)
Carrie Reese (Cinema)
Christina Turner (English)
Aleksa Alaica (Anthropology)
Beyhan Farhadi (Geography)
Marisa Karyl Franz (Religion)
William Fysh (History)
Amy Fox (Anthropology)
Erica Petkov (Political Science)
Johanna Pokorny (Anthropology)
Julia Rombough (History)
Katie Fry (Comparative Literature)
Alexandra Logue (History)
Emma Planinc (Political Science)
Joanne Leow (English)
Colin Rose (History)
Morgan Vanek (English)
Past Undergraduate Fellows
Willem Alexander Crispin-Frei
Past Visiting Fellows
Dr. Anastasiya Lyubas (Binghamton University)
Professor Claire Battershill (Simon Fraser University)
Dr. Marta Manzanares Mileo (University of Barcelona)
Professor Nandi Bhatia (University of Western Ontario)
Professor Daniel Gallimore (Kwansei Gakuin University)
Professor Kevin James (University of Guelph)
Professor Edward Jones-Imhotep (York University)
Professor Thomas Willard (University of Arizona)