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Dr. Jennifer Burwell

Associate Professor
EducationBA, Queen’s University; MA, Northwestern University; PhD Northwestern University
Areas of ExpertiseScience Studies, Utopian thought and utopian literature, Quantum Theory in cultural context, Science fiction


I research and teach primarily in the fields of science studies and literary non-fiction, with one emphasis on how science, literature, and art emerge in related ways at given historical moments—for example, in the similar forms expressed by relativity, Virginia Woolf, and Picasso in the modernist period. I have also studied utopian literature in some depth—particularly feminism utopian literature—as a way of uncovering the utopian logics that inform a variety of contemporary theoretical paradigms. In my teaching of literary non-fiction I examine how devices typically associated with fiction inform and structure a number of non-fiction forms, including the lyric essay, new journalism, and the memoir.

Research Interests:

My first book, Notes on Nowhere: Feminism, Utopian Logic, and Social transformation, uses contemporary feminist science fiction to examine the political and literary meaning of utopian writing and thought—from feminist theory to postmodern theory to critical Marxism. My second book (co-edited with Dr. Monique Tschofen), Image and Territory: Essays on Atom Egoyan, combines essays that unpack the central arguments and tensions of filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s work, and locates his work within larger intellectual and artistic currents. My most recent book, Quantum Language and the Cultural Migration of Scientific Concepts, investigates the language of quantum physics, both as it was used by the originators of quantum theory, and as quantum concepts have been used by literary critics and in popular culture.  I am currently researching “bio-art” and biosemiotics—the use of the biological (for example, DNA) to create art, and the ways in which biological processes “communicate.”