History in Art and MEICON-BC

In 2008 UVic, SFU and UBC started a collaborative project called MEICON-BC: The Middle East and Islamic Consortium of British Columbia.

Academics at the fourth annual MEICON-BC conference

The contribution of UVic was natural since the university has a very strong presence in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in Canada, including, uniquely, two dedicated positions in Islamic Art (Drs Marcus Milwright and Anthony Welch). The areas of specialization of UVic scholars range from Islamic art, history, philosophy, and sociology to political science, history of religion and science.

The purpose of MEICON-BC was to bring together British Columbia-based academics who are interested in the study of the Middle East and Muslim cultures. The events organized by MEICON are helping to promote understanding of these cultures in the community.

MEICON has sponsored dozens of lectures and film viewings, while special discussion forums have addressed contemporary issues such as the political changes in the Middle East. Events are often sponsored by SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (CCSMSC) and UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society.   Presenters have included Tariq Ramadan (Oxford), George Saliba (Columbia), and Laura Marks (SFU) among many international scholars, journalists and political analysts.

Fourth-year History in Art student Gwen Donaldson at last year’s MEICON-BC

MEICON has also built a successful, rotating annual student conference with participation by both graduate and undergraduate students. The conference has proved a fertile platform for the presentation of the work of young scholars who have talked about politics, issues of gender, textual criticism, material culture, diasporas, and much more. The best papers of the 2010 conference were published at a special edition of Illumine, the graduate journal of CSRS, edited by Mona Goode, PhD candidate in History. Last March, Gwen Donaldson, a fourth-year student in History in Art presented her original research on inscriptions on medieval Samanid ceramics from Iran and Uzbekistan at the fourth Annual Conference.

The 5th Annual conference will be organized at UVic. The conference is accompanied by a faculty symposium on the theme of “Canada’s Contribution to Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies” (March 22-23, 2013).

The project has done much to promote communication among academics based in BC, but it has also promoted dialogue and collaboration among UVic faculty in very different disciplines.

Visit MEICON-BC for more information and news about the upcoming conference.

—Evanthia Baboula

Evanthia Baboula is an Assistant Professor in the Arts of the East Mediterranean with UVic’s History in Art department

More summer plans: History in Art, Visual Arts, Theatre

Geez, our Fine Arts faculty are so darn busy, we had to split the news about what some of them are doing with their summer into two parts!

History in Art

After a six-week research trip to Bologna, Italy, where she’ll be working in libraries, archives and museums to complete a SSHRC-supported book project on 16th century Italian portraits of old women (currently titled Prophets, Saints, and Matriarchs: Old Women and Art in Early Modern Italy), professor Erin Campbell will be traveling to Nuremberg, Germany, to present on the “Object as Subject” at the 33rd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art—she’ll be dusting off her paper, “Good Housekeeping: Objects and Agency in the Early Modern Domestic Interior”—before heading to Paris “to look at some great art!”

Visual Arts

In addition to an exhibition opening at Museum London and a series of four new works created in collaboration with Victoria-based sound artist Tina Pearson at the Royal BC Museum’s recent Site & Sound event, recent faculty hire Paul Walde will also be travelling to Kaslo to work on some new work for an exhibition that will be presented there in October. “Requiem for a Glacier will memorialize BC’s Jumbo Glacier, an ancient feature of the landscape left over from the last ice age 10,000 years ago and now under immediate threat from climate change and resort development,” he explains. “As part of the piece I will be developing a specially prepared orchestral musical composition that will be performed on the glacier. The music will be loosely based on traditional requiem compositions and feature six songs for the glacier.” After that, Paul will be off to New York State to undertake a series of field recordings documenting the landscape around the site of the premiere of American composer John Cage’s ground-breaking work 4:33. The recording with coincide with the 60th anniversary of the premiere, the 100th anniversary of the Cage’s birth and the 20th anniversary of his death.

Departmental chair Daniel Laskarain is spending his summer in the studio creating new work—or, as he so delicately puts it, he will be “if I ever get out of this bloody office.” (Sounds like someone can really use a break!) He will also be traveling to Aix-en-Provence in France, where he hopes to absorb a foreign environment with no attention to anything. Sounds ideal to us!

After collaborating with Music prof Christopher Butterfield on his Contes pour enfants pas sages, professor Sandra Meigs will be on the jury for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition in Toronto in May, which will meet again in November to decide the final outcome. (See this post for news about the Visual Arts grad who made the shortlist.) Other than that, Sandra is currently on study leave, working away in her studio on new paintings—panoramas of basements and crawl spaces.

Sessional instructor John G. Boehme recently received a Canada Council research and creation project grant to assist in the development of a body of new trans-disciplinary artworks, which will involve the creation of sports equipment initially from ceramic materials, then additionally from other media (possibly including glass). “My practice has in past explored sport as a metaphor for construction, projection and destruction of identity, utilizing sport as an armature for cultural and national identity,” says Boheme. His new works will then be utilized in a performance art context and gallery installation, with events pending in Belgium, Chile, California and New York.

And while sessional instructor David Gifford will likely be working on some new sculpture or perfecting his prestidigitation techniques as his magical alter-ego The Great Giffoni, he certainly wins the celebrity angle this summer: he’ll be spending some time fishing with acclaimed Canadian author Joseph Boyden and famed poet and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie in Northern Ontario.


Departmental chair Warwick Dobson is off to Brno in the Czech Republic to run an intensive workshop for teachers at the Marysakova University. After that, he will be attending the International Drama in Education Research Institute in Limerick (along with several other UVic faculty, sessionals and grad students) presenting on Applied Theatre and the Circulation of Social Energy. “That should keep me off the streets,” he chuckles.

After visiting Toronto and Montreal for the launch of Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s, which she co-edited with Vancouver-based dance writer Kaija Pepper professor Allana C. Lindgren will also be on tap as one of three key speakers for the 2012 Selma Odom lecture series at York University. Allana will be presenting a paper on  “Gender Cues: The National Ballet of Canada’s Marketing of Masculinity and Femininity in the 1950s”. As a dance and cultural historian with classical ballet training (Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division), this is clearly a topic Allana knows well.

Busy professory Conrad Alexandrowicz is currently working on the first rehearsal phase of his SSHRC grant, staging many of the poems in Writing prof Lorna Crozier‘s Apocrypha of Light—which re-imagines Christian creation myths from a feminist perspective—with seven current and recently graduated acting student, and two musicians, including Sandra Dawkins, head of woodwinds at the School of Music. Conrad also made the news recently with his physical theatre piece House of X, which debuted at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in July. And then come August, he’ll be going to the Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference in Washington, DC to present a paper called “Pretty/Sexy: Impacts of the Sexualization of Young Women on Theatre Pedagogy.”

Sessional instructor Leslie Bland will continue his work as the executive producer of Less Bland Productions, developing television series for local, national, and international broadcast. As such, he’ll be attending the Banff World Media Festival this summer, where he says he’ll “keep busy pitching broadcasters and attending panel discussions, screenings, award ceremonies, and mixers, etc.” (It’s the “etc.” that really has us wondering.)

Finally, now that Dean Sarah Blackstone has officially started her one-year sabbatical, we hope she’s already winging her way into the wild blue yonder, shooting birds (with her camera, of course) and doing anything but thinking about the university. While the rest of us will be back in action after the summer, Sarah gets a well-deserved extended break. Relax and enjoy yourself Dean. You’ve earned it!

Summer plans: Music and Writing

While the writer of this blog will soon be out camping around Vancouver Island with his family and hoping for steady sunshine, far more interesting summer plans are in the works for various members of the Fine Arts faculty.


After meeting with the Society for Music Theory‘s program committee in Louisville, Kentucky, and taking a research visit to Berlin and the Stuttgart area, professor Harald Krebs will participate in the Vancouver International Song Institute, as well as finish editing a collection of essays on Bartók’s string quartets for Oxford University Press (co-edited by fellow Music prof Dániel Biró).

Speaking of Dániel Péter Biró, he really knows how to rack up the air miles—as well as teaching workshops on electronic music and on rhythm, extended techniques and notation with the Meitar Ensemble in Kiryat Ono, Israel, and lecturing on the history of Jewish Torah cantillation signs (the te’amim) at the Genootschap voor de Joodse Wetenschap—that’s the Dutch Society for Jewish Studies—he’ll be visiting the Netherlands to conduct field recordings of Jewish and Islamic chants. That’s all on top of teaching at the Matrix Academy for Electronic Music in Amsterdam, as well as leading colloquia at the Harvard Summer Composition Institute. Did we mention that Dániel’s composition Vayiru Et (And They Saw) Version II will also be performed by the Meitar Ensemble at the Center for New Music and Technology in Tel Aviv? Geez, someone get this guy his own plane.

Visiting professor Suzanne Snizek will be busy writing a chapter for an interdisciplinary book on the larger subject of wartime captivity, to be published in the coming academic year by Armand Colin (Paris). “My particular subject is music written during WWII British Internment,” she says. Suzanne will also be recording a CD with some School of Music colleagues, along the theme of “suppressed music”—that is, composers who were suppressed by the Nazi regime. “The CD will include works by composers Leo Smit, Hans Gál, Franz Reizenstein, and Petr Eben. Several of these works have never been recorded since they have not been fully recovered into the standard repertory. However, as fantastic pieces of music, they deserve to be heard by contemporary audiences. I am particularly excited about this project, which is the culmination of several years of performing these works here in Canada as well as in London and Paris.”

Music Education prof Mary Kennedy will be attending and presenting at the International Society of Music Education Conference in Thessalonika, and also at the MISTEC Commission meetings in Komotini, both in Greece. Gosh, has anyone noticed that these kind of conferences are never held in exotic destinations like, uh, Powell River or Port Alberni?

Jazz prof Patrick Boyle will be recording his fourth solo album—”a Christmas cavalcade” titled Boogie on the Housetop, set for a December 2012 release—on which he’ll be performing all of the instruments (voice, bass, drums, guitars, horns). He was also commissioned to compose “Secret Embrace for Percussion Duo” for the 2012 Sound Symposium in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where it will premiere with percussionists Rob Power and Ed Squires. Patrick is also writing a book documenting the history of jazz in Newfoundland, which he’ll be researching this summer, and he’s been invited to present a night of silent film music in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in August. “Should be a fun summer!” he says.

The always busy Benjamin Butterfield will be, not surprisingly, quite busy this summer. After taking the stage with his wife (and School of Music sessional voice instructor) Anne Grimm in his brother (and fellow School of Music prof) Christopher Butterfield‘s Contes pour enfants pas sages with Toronto’s Continuum in June, Ben will be performing with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Bach Festival (a CD release of St. John Passion), the Seattle Symphony (debuting Mozart’s Requiem), the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival (recording Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde) and the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, as well as teaching at the Opera on the Avalon summer opera program, Vancouver International Song Institute (where he’ll also do some Art Song research), and doing Masterclasses with the Victoria Conservatory of Music Summer Vocal Academy. Whew!


After attending the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs conference at Toronto’s Humber College earlier this summer, Acting Dean Lynne Van Luven will be conducting research for a new project on euthanasia and health care in Canada over the rest of the summer. And, of course, getting up to speed on her Deanly duties.

Sessional instructor Christin Geall also presented at the CCWWP, and appeared with fellow Writing prof David Leach at the Canadian Creative Nonfiction Collective‘s conference in Vancouver. For the rest of summer, Christin will be based on the coast of Maine, where she’s leading a workshop at her alma mater’s Stone House at the University of Southern Maine. (Enjoy the lobster!) She’ll also be joining a writer’s retreat at the Barred Owl Retreat in Massachusetts.

Speaking of David Leach, after co-leading the panel on “time and nonfiction writing” at the annual CNCC in Vancouver with Christin Geall, he’ll be locking himself away in order to finish a draft of his forthcoming book about the kibbutz movement in Israel, Look Back to Galilee: Stumbling Toward Utopia in a Divided Land . . . uh, after he gets back from hiking the North Coast Trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park, that is. Can’t wait to read the book? You can follow his blog about it.

Sessional instructor Sally Stubbs is busy with a few projects: Kid Gloves, a new play about Canada’s first women police officers, which will have its world premiere in November 2012 at Vancouver’s Firehall Arts Centre—in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of women policing in Canada, no less. (Canada’s first women officers—Constables Lurancy D. Harris & Minnie Miller—were sworn into the Vancouver Police Department in 1912.) She’ll be workshopping that piece this summer, as well as having a public reading. Sally has also been invited to co-present a Canadian panel on “Creative Readings from Research-based Theatre” at the Women Playwrights International Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in August; as well as Kid Gloves, her “embryonic project” Mrs. Finley Has Arrived (what she describes as “my first attempt at a musical”) will be featured in this presentation. Finally, she’ll also be working on a commission for Vancouver’s Green Thumb Theatre for young people; tentatively entitled The Cure, the play is scheduled to receive a workshop school tour next season.

After spending time at the Playwrights Colony in Banff back in May, workshopping her new play What To Expect (set to premier at the Alberta Theatre Project’s annual festival of new work in March 2013), Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright and Writing prof Joan MacLeod also has a recently reworked version of her very first professional play—a chamber opera of The Secret Garden that originally opened in 1985 at Comus Music Theatre in Toronto—which will be remounted at Trinity College in London and then at The Banff Centre in August. After that, she plans to head off on her boat and write for three weeks in Desolation Sound, which she describes as “always the most productive and serene and rich part of my summer!”

Joan has a long history with the Playwrights Colony. “I’ve workshopped all 10 of my plays at the colony,” she says. “It’s a vital part of my process—the chance to work with some of the best actors, directors and dramaturges in the country. And most of all I love the opportunity to hang out with other playwrights from coast to coast in those beautiful mountains.” One feature of the colony that keeps her going back is its support of both emerging and senior playwrights. “This year, Dave Brock—who I taught in my first year here at UVic back in 2004/05—will be part of the colony for the first time. He graduated from our program in 2006, so that also feels just right.”

Stay tuned for what’s happening for the faculty in Visual Arts, History in Art and Theatre.


New Student Orientation needs Fine Arts students

Attention all Fine Arts students!

On Tuesday, September 4, UVic is expecting to welcome 2,000 new students with our New Student Orientation program. The Faculty of Fine Arts needs experienced students like you to welcome them to their new campus and introduce them to their academic unit. When you volunteer, you make a great difference to new students’ transition to university.

Student Transition Services will provide you with training in July or August, a tour schedule on the day, an orientation T-shirt and free food. Being an orientation tour guide will look great on your resume and their training program will help you sharpen your skills in public speaking, small group facilitation and leadership.

Please join us on Tuesday, September 4, in welcoming our Faculty’s newest students. If you are interested in volunteering at New Student Orientation, please visit the Student Transition Services website and click on “Sign up”. To learn more about the Student Transition Services volunteer program and available volunteer opportunities and training dates, please contact JelenaDukic, Volunteer Coordinator at jdukic@uvic.ca or 250-472-5054.

One out of 509

Congratulations to recent Writing grad Kayla Czaga for winning The Malahat Review 2012 Far Horizons Award for Poetry. Her poem, “gertrude stein loves a girl”, was selected as the winner out of 509 entries by judge Mary Dalton. The now Vancouver-based Czaga picks up $,1000 and her winning poem will appear in the Malahat’s Winter 2012 issue.

Writing grad Kayla Czaga is $1,000 richer for winning the Malahat Review’s Far Horizon poetry award

As noted on the Malahat website, Dalton—a Canadian poet and professor in Memorial University’s English department—says of Czaga’s poem: “The pleasures of ‘gertrude stein loves a girl’ are multiple. Drawing on the syntactical disruptions and linguistic play of modernist Stein, evoking a whole world in its small compass, this set of five short pieces riffs astutely on the concept of girlhood: the light and the dark. Playful, sprightly, shifting among tones of exuberance, irony, and sorrow, the poem fuses subject and form . . . . It creates a sense of irrepressible energy, even as the lineation suggests restriction.” (Click on over to the Malahat for Dalton’s full comments.)

Czaga won the “Best Bad Haiku Contest” in her second-year poetry workshop back in 2008, and graduated from UVic in 2011. Her poems “Biography of my Father,” and “Proposal for the Palace of Soviets (1933)” both won Editor’s Choice awards in ARC Poetry Magazine’s 2012 Poem of the Year Contest. She’ll begin her MFA at UBC in September 2012.

Keep your eyes open for an interview with Czaga on The Malahat Review website in September.