Ready for the Spotlight?

Celine Stubel and Amitai Marmorstein in 2008’s Legoland

Okay, pop quiz time! What do the following recent Phoenix Theatre productions have in common: Love Kills, Death of a Clown, The Josephine Knot, Legoland and The Ugly Duchess? If your guess was that they all starred Phoenix talent, well, you’re technically right—but the correct answer is, they were all featured in the annual Spotlight on Alumni showcase.

Sure, they did feature some of the outstanding creative and performing talent Department of Theatre has produced over the years—thus the “alumni” needed for the spotlight—but they were also all shows that deserved to be seen by wider audiences. Whether highlighting the works of directors like Clayton Jevne (Love Kills) and Britt Small (Legoland), playwrights Janet Munsil (Duchess), Meg Braem (Knot) and Sebastien Archibald (Clown), or actors Celine Stubel and Amitai Marmorstein (Legoland), Laura Harris (Knot), Paul Terry (Duchess), Cam Culham and Marina Lagacé (Love Kills), and Cameron Anderson, Chris Wilson and Colby Wilson (Clown), the annual Spotlight on Alumni gives both audiences and students a chance to appreciate the ever-growing talent emerging from the Phoenix.

Sebastien Archibald in 2010’s Death of a Clown

With that in mind, the Phoenix is proud to invite its alumni to submit for the upcoming 2012/ 2013 Spotlight on Alumni—which will form part of UVic’s 50th Anniversary season. (Proposals that consider themes related to the 50th anniversary are encouraged.) If you’re alumni and are considering applying, your show must meet the following criteria:
• A production that is full-length and fully produced (minimum 90 minutes)
• Availability for approximately 11 public performances in October 2012 (dates determined by department)
• A production where minimal scenery installation time is required (this production will take place in the Roger Bishop Theatre)
• The production can be new or previously produced (please include previous production history)
• Creative team/cast must consist of at least 60 percent department alumni (please provide names and graduation years)
• Please include the script, if available, and other available materials (photographs, video, posters, programmes, reviews, etc.)
• Alumni/producers are responsible for all creative roles (but a stage crew and operators can be provided for the production by the department)

The cast of 2011’s Love Kills

Also, please note there is a $6,000 fee (including travel and accommodation) available for the succesful alumni group or individual

Proposals must be submitted by January 13, 2012, to Department of Theatre Chair Warwick Dobson, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC,
Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2. E-mail:

Submissions will be returned in March 2013 if a self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed.

Good luck!

Holman talks Lobbying and more

Sean Holman is still a busy guy

Just because investigative journalist and Writing instructor Sean Holman has shut down daily operations at his Public Eye Online blog doesn’t mean he’s any less in the spotlight. In addition to his duties as UVic’s acting Director of Professional Writing and his weekly CFAX political show, Public Eye Radio, Holman will also be a guest speaker at BC’s First Conversation on Lobbying in Vancouver on December 2.

Titled “Why the Road Exists and Where the Rubber Hits it,” Holman will be part of the panel discussion, “Lobbyists Code of Conduct: Necessary, Nice to Have, or Overkill?” Moderated by Michael McEvoy, senior adjudicator of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Holman will be joined by fellow panelists John Langford (of UVic’s School of Public Administration), Elizabeth Denham (BC’s Registrar of Lobbyists) and Elizabeth Roscoe (National Service Leader, Public Affairs, Ottawa’s Hill & Knowlton). Too bad he won’t be on the same panel as former Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell Day (appearing here as president of his own lobbying group, Stockwell Day Connex)—now, that would be a session worth seeing!

With other panels focusing on recognizing lobbying when you see it, the “cooling-off” period between holding public office and becoming a private lobbyist, keeping lobbyist information current, and the difficulties of compliance and enforcement rules, this Conversation on Lobbying promises to be both fascinating and relevant . . . and right up Holman’s alley. (For more information and registration, see the above link.)

And in other Holman news, he’ll also be speaking about investigative journalism at the upcoming Canadian University Press national conference, hosted by UVic’s Martlet and Camosun College’s Nexus newspapers, happening here in Victoria on January 13, 2012. Plus, he’ll be judging the Canadian University Press’s JHM News Writing Award, alongside Lindsay Kines of the Times Colonist and Tim Bousquet, news editor for Halifax’s alternative weekly The Coast.



It’s Anarchie!

Allan Antliff at this fall’s launch of the Anarchist Archive digital collection

The past few months have been anarchy for History in Art prof Allan Antliff . . . of course, that’s nothing new. As specialist in anarchist studies—as well as his continuing role as the Canada Research Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art (2003-2013)—Antliff is the department’s go-to guy for all things about anarchy and art.

Back in September, Antliff helped launch the digital collection of UVic Libraries’ unparalleled Anarchist Archive, of which he is the director. Since 2005, the Anarchist Archive has been amassing all manner of material relating to the anarchist movement (including journals, posters, recordings, monographs and more), with a special focus on Canada—and which now include the recent acquisition of the personal papers of activist and author Ann Hansen (a former member of Canadian urban guerilla group Direct Action), who attended the event. Now that they’re available online, the Anarchist Archives can be of greater benefit to scholars and activists around the world.

Now, a revised and expanded edition of Antliff’s ground-breaking study, Anarchy and Art (2007), has just been published in German by Verlag Edition AV.  “The book begins with artist Gustave Courbet’s activism during the 1871 Paris Commune, and ends with an examination of anarchist art during the fall of the Soviet empire,” explains Antliff. “Other subjects include the Neo-Impressionists and their depictions of the homeless in the 1890s; the Dada movement in New York City during World War I; the decline of the
Russian Avant-Garde during the 1920s and 30s; the West Coast Beats of the 1940s and 50s; feminism and modernism in the 1960s; and the anti-colonial
aesthetics of Indian art critic Ananda Coomaraswamy.”

Since beginning his UVic appointment as Canada Research Chair back in 2003, Antliff has taught courses on activism and art, anarchist aesthetics, Russian Constructivism, New York Dada and a host of other subjects dealing with modernism and contemporary art. He has authored two books and is editor of Only a Beginning, an anthology of the anarchist movement in Canada, and is also art editor for the interdisciplinary journals Anarchist Studies and Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, and visual arts editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. Active as a theorist and historian of anarchism, Antliff has written on a wide range of topics including radical pedagogy; post-structuralism; and aesthetics.

In his role as art critic, Antliff has published numerous art reviews and feature articles in journals such as Canadian Art magazine, Fuse, C Magazine and Galleries West. He has also contributed to exhibition catalogs for the Whitney Museum of Art, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and other institutions. Allan has produced two feature programs for CBC Radio (Guernica: A Political Odyssey, 2007; Anarchy, Art and Activism, 2002).

Antliff with Ann Hansen at the Anarchist Archive digital lauch

Active in the North American anarchist movement since the 1980s, Antliff was a founding member of the Toronto Anarchist Free School (now Anarchist U) and contributor to The Fifth Estate, Anarchy Magazine, Ye Drunken Sailor and other publications. Before entering academia in 1999 he worked as news and issues editor at the collectively owned biweekly newspaper, Between the Lines. Currently, he is a member of the Victoria Anarchist Reading Circle, the Victoria Anarchist Bookfair Collective and the Black Raven publishing collective.

Milwright heads to Shangri La, becomes Fellow, acquires manuscript

Dr. Marcus Milwright and student Natalie Gilson examine the facsimile of the Maqamat of al-Hariri, a famed 12th-century manuscript that was acquired earlier this year. Scroll down for news about another important Islamic manuscript acquisition. (Photo: Robie Liscomb)

History in Art’s Marcus Milwright has been awarded the position of scholar-in-residence at Shangri La, a Centre for Islamic Arts and Cultures, in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Milwright, director of UVic’s Medieval Studies program and associate professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology, will be in residence from April 14 to May 6, 2012, with a focus on studying the late Ottoman and French Mandate periods (i.e. 18th to mid-20th century) Syrian artifacts in the collection. “In recent years I have been working on translating sections of an Arabic dictionary of the crafts of Damascus, written between about 1890 and 1906,” says Milwright. “The aim of this residence is to establish ways in which this valuable written source can be used to enhance museum displays of Middle Eastern art of the later Islamic period (1700-1940).”

One of the rooms at Shangri La

Part of the charitable Doris Duke Foundation, named for the influential American philanthropist, Shangri La’s scholar-in-residence position is a competitive and thematic program that invites select scholars and artists whose work complements the collection, while also advancing the study and understanding of Islamic art and culture. Chosen scholars and artists are given the opportunity to pursue their own academic and creative work, while also presenting public programs such as lectures, workshops and performances. Milwright will be the latest among such other recent scholars as Thalia Kennedy, Olga Bush and Linda Komaroff, and artists Zakariya Amataya and Emre Hüner.

Once the residence of the late Doris Duke, Shangri La still houses most of her collection of Islamic art. (One notable exception is the beautiful 18th-century house interior from Damascus that now forms part of the renovated gallery of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum.) The daughter of American tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke, Doris was famously branded “the richest girl in the world” after inheriting his estate when she was just 12 years old. Following her marriage to American diplomat James H.R. Cromwell in 1935, Duke decided to build a seasonal home in Honolulu after visiting both Hawaii and many Muslim countries for the first time while on her honeymoon. Captivated by Islamic cultures and enamored with Hawaii, Duke designed a new residence with the ambition of evoking “the beauty and character of each.” As noted on their website, Shangri La borrows architectural elements and artistic sensibilities from regions of the Islamic world, and blends them with a distinctly Hawaiian landscape that features sweeping ocean views, exotic gardens and a 75-foot saltwater pool. (And hey, if you’re looking for a job, Shangri La is currently on the hunt for a historic housekeeper.)

And in other news, Dr. Milwright has been elected as a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Founded in 1823 (and receiving its royal charter in 1824), this is one of the oldest societies devoted to the study of Asia and the Islamic world. Milwright has previously published articles and book reviews in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Finally, the McPherson Library has purchased a facsimile of the 12th-century Arabic book, Kitab al-Diryaq (Book of Antidotes). Written by an anonymous Arabic author, but making extensive use of ancient Greek medical knowledge, the original of this precious manuscript is now housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. “Apart from its importance for the study of Islamic science, this is also one of the earliest illustrated books in the Arab-speaking world,” explains Milwright. “Particularly notable is the double frontispiece that contains a complex set of astrological images which relate to a solar eclipse which occurred in 1199. These sorts of facsimile are vital for the teaching of Islamic art and the history of book.”

Owen Padmore’s legacy lives on in the memorial fund that bears his name

The Book of Antidotes was bought using monies from the Owen Padmore Memorial Fund. Established in 2002 by the family of History in Art student Owen Padmore (1970-2001), who was fascinated by Islamic visual culture, the fund is designed for the purchase of books on Islamic art and architecture. The Owen Padmore Fund also contributed to the purchase of another important facsimile last year, the 13th century Maqamat of al-Hariri (seen above), about which Milwright recently gave a presentation as part of the Predigital Book Research Collective in the McPherson’s Special Collections. “This is a tremendous resource for teaching,” Milwright said about the Maqamat of al-Hariri at the time. “When we teach manuscript painting, one of the frustrations is that we can’t take people to see the originals. With this facsimile, you can do almost everything you can do with the original manuscript.”

The Owen Padmore Fund continues to make an important contribution to the study of Islamic visual culture at the University of Victoria. While the McPherson library has been collecting Islamic art books for 40 years, the Padmore Fund has helped purchase over 120 books on Islamic art, architecture and archaeology since 2002, making it one of the most important collections in this field of study in Canada.

Greetings from Absurdistan

Terry Glavin at his October 19 lecture

Last year, an inspiring talk about the power of stories drew a standing ovation; this year, a passionate diatribe about Afghanistan saw people walking out. Such is the constantly shifting nature of the Department of Writing’s Harvey S. Southam Lecture in Journalism and Nonfiction, a position that always reflects the person who holds it.

While past Southam speakers (Richard Wagamese, Jodi Patterson, Sandra Martin, Charles J. Campbell) all engaged their audiences, none has enraged them quite like this year’s lecturer, Terry Glavin. Given Glavin’s topic, however, and the controversial nature of his latest book, Come From The Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan (Douglas & McIntyre), it’s no surprise he ruffled a few feathers. “This book is going to sting,” Glavin stated bluntly at his UVic reading on Oct. 19. “It’s not what I want to hear; it’s not what my friends want to hear. You’re not going to like what it has to say.”

The author of six books, Glavin has been a reporter and columnist for a number of media outlets and has won the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence in BC. (Indeed, former Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo was among the hundred or so people in attendance at Glavin’s lecture.) But it was the reality gap between his experiences in Afghanistan and the jarringly different media coverage that was the evening’s focus. “Those are the stories I’ve always been drawn to,” Glavin told the audience, “the stories where a vast gulf exists between an imaginary country and a country that exists in the real world.”

By way of illustration, he offered this simile for the standard Canadian media approach of having a handful of embedded reporters on assignment over the past decade and how it has shaped our view of Afghanistan: “It’s like having a couple of reporters ride around in the back of a police car in the worst part of Detroit for a decade, and that’s all you know about the United States.”

Given his repeated overseas visits and the research that went into his latest book, as well as his role as co-founder of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee, Glavin’s seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of Afghanistan often went over the audience’s head—or was the source of their ire. (“This is a pack of lies,” shouted one man. “You’re just toeing the CIA line!”)

But Glavin freely admitted to being “a partisan in this struggle,” noting that, like the majority of Afghans, he supports an extended troop mission to aid in the rebuilding effort, the push towards a more secular society, a greater concern for women’s rights and an increase in education for all. “In Afghanistan, teaching a six-year-old girl to write her own name is a revolutionary act.” And, of course, he decries the hard-right Taliban minority that continues to influence our general perception of the country.  “The course of events over there has been as shaped by our views on Afghanistan as by all the money and bullets we’ve sent over.”

While he is an intelligent and compelling speaker, Glavin’s obvious passion often resulted in a somewhat disjointed delivery; over the course of 90 minutes, he talked not only about Afghanistan but also about his own evolution as a journalist, George Orwell’s media legacy, recent changes to the NDP’s political stance and the current Occupy Wall Street movement (“something may be dying, but something is also being born”). Another point of controversy was Glavin’s reluctance to answer certain audience questions, some of which he dismissed out of hand.

Ultimately, however, his message was clear: get informed, formulate your own opinions, and don’t rely on one media outlet to tell you the whole story—not because it’s a conspiracy, but because they are restricted by financial limitations, political persuasion and lack of general interest.

“People are tired of the symbolic, the play-acting . . . they want change, they want the real,” Glavin said in conclusion. “Check your head, do what you can and you’ll sleep the sleep of the just.”

Check this Youtube video for a short clip of Terry Glavin’s UVic lecture


UPDATE: Brandon Rosario of UVic’s Martlet offered this report of Glavin’s October 19 lecture, noting that while he “stirred up some controversy”, what Glavin reports in his book “is not hateful, anti-Western spite perpetuated by 10 years of war and civilian casualties, but a sense of tentative optimism—a better-than-before place where the people are beginning to find solace in an environment of peace brought by foreign soldiers. The misconception of Western audiences toward Afghanistan—built up from years of increasing political unpopularity on the home front—is irresponsible and dangerous.”

Rosario quotes Glavin as saying, “I don’t want to present myself as some brave person. If you’re embedded with the people it doesn’t require much bravery. I could have interviewed [the Taliban] anytime I wanted . . . but that’s something I won’t do, I confess, I am a partisan. If I had the opportunity I’d call in the fucking drones, make no apologies for it.”