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Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture

Sponsored by the Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture and the Department of Communication Studies at York, the annual Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture (external link, opens in new window)  honours the contribution of the late Ioan Davies.

Professor Davies, who taught at York from 1972 until his death in 2000, helped establish the African Studies Program, the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought and the Joint Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture, and was a founder of the journal border/lines.

Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture
The Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture is held annually at York University.

The 2023 Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture will be given by  Dr. Roopika Risam, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and of Comparative Literature and part of the Digital Humanities and Social Engagement cluster at Dartmouth College.

In this talk, “The Promise of Postcolonial Digital Humanities” Roopika Risam will offer her theoretical and methodological approach to more fully realizing the potential of digital humanities — called postcolonial digital humanities — and will discuss digital humanities projects that she and her collaborators have designed to put the theories and methods of postcolonial digital humanities into practice.

The virtual lecture will take place on Tuesday, November 7 at 1:30 PM

The Ioan Davies Awards for outstanding scholarship will be presented at the Memorial Lecture by Diane Davies.

Digital humanities has proven to be one of the most powerful methodological innovations in literary, historical, and cultural studies since the advent of theory. Despite the immense promise of digital humanities, the material circumstances of humanities knowledge production have delimited the scholarly interventions it makes possible. In this talk, Roopika Risam will offer her theoretical and methodological approach to more fully realizing the potential of digital humanities — called postcolonial digital humanities — and will discuss digital humanities projects that she and her collaborators have designed to put the theories and methods of postcolonial digital humanities into practice.  

Dr. Ayesha Hameed is a Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Goldsmiths University of London. Her talk “Of Sea Changes and Other Futurisms” expands on two of her recent long term research-creation projects: Black Atlantis and Brown Atlantis.

The first, Black Atlantis, is a speculative exploration of the relationship between the transatlantic slave trade, contemporary illegalised migration, and the watery environment of the ocean below. The second, Brown Atlantis, is a new project which extends the speculative methodology produced for Black Atlantis to look at the ecologies of the Indian Ocean world with histories of indenture and slavery.

Greig de Peuter is a professor of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. His research focuses on work, employment, and labour politics under contemporary capitalism. His talk, “Digital Media Unionism: A Labour Movement in the Making” addresses the value of labour organizing as an entry point to the critical study of media work and media futures. It expands on a recently completed study (with collaborator Dr. Nicole Cohen), interviewed journalists and union organizers involved in unionization campaigns at more than seventy-five publications, both digital-first outlets like Vice and BuzzFeed, as well as legacy media, including the Los Angeles Times. De Peuter’s talk traces the making of this media labour movement by mapping constitutive moments in the union formation process, revealing in turn: the working conditions and inequalities that journalists are contesting; the cultures of solidarity that sustain union drives, combat anti-unionism, and underpin contractual gains; and how newsroom employees turn their professional communicative competencies to an alternative end—to build worker power.

Elizabeth Wissinger is a Professor of Sociology at City University of New York, at the Graduate Center and BMCC, where she teaches Fashion Studies and Sociology. Her research focuses on technology, fashion, and embodiment. She has lectured on topics related to gender and race, media, bodies, and work in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. Her current work takes up the issue of how wearable technology genders bodies, research through which she is affiliated with the think/do tank Data & Society.

Wissinger is the author of This Year’s Model: Fashion, Media, and the Making of Glamour (New York University Press, 2015), in which she explores what she terms “glamour labor” e.g. the work to make one’s physical presence resemble one’s highly filtered and edited presence online. From a case study of fashion models, Wissinger shows how glamour labor expands beyond the confines of high fashion and becomes a work/life requirement for everyone working in developed countries in the digital age. This argument has been featured in discussions in The Guardian, The Conversation, Cyborgology, Interface, Culture Digitally, PETRIe Inventory, and The Globe and Mail. Currently, Wissinger is working on a monograph exploring the cultural clash between the worlds of fashion and technology, exposed when wearable technology genders bodies.

Sarah Brouillette is a professor of English at Carleton University, where she teaches global Anglophone literatures, critical media and social media studies, and political and economic thought with a focus on Marxist theory. She is the author of Postcolonial Writers and the Global Literary Marketplace (Palgrave Macmillan, (2007) and Literature and the Creative Economy (Stanford University Press, 2014). Her current project is a history of the relationship between global cultural policy and postwar cycles of capitalist growth and stagnation.

Tom Gunning is Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor in the Division of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where he teaches in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the Department of Art History

A noted film historian, Gunning has lectured widely on film style and interpretation, film culture and the history of film. He is the author of numerous books, including D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film,Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema, Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible (1840-1900), and The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

This talk is located in a shattered, formally inconsistent, yet intelligible zone defined by being in life without wanting the world. Reading with Claudia Rankine (Don’t Let Me Be Lonely), the novel and film of A Single Man (Christopher Isherwood, 1964; Tom Ford, 2009), and Harryette Mullen (Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002), it describes an aesthetics and a subjectivity shaped on one side by suicide and on the other by a life drive that is also, paradoxically, negative, in that it turns toward life by turning away from the world of injury, negation, and contingency that endure as an defining presence for biopolitical subjects. It suggests attending to and developing a dissociative poetics. The talk will be less abstract than this abstract.

Lauren Berlant teaches at the University of Chicago, where she is the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. Her national sentimentality trilogy—The Anatomy of National Fantasy (1991), The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997), and The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008)—morphed into a quartet, with Cruel Optimism (2011), that addresses transnational precarious publics and the aesthetics of affective adjustment in the contemporary United States and Europe. Her interest in affect, aesthetics, and politics is also expressed in the edited volumes Intimacy (2000), Compassion (2004), and On the Case (Critical Inquiry, 2007). Her most recent books are Desire/Love (2012) and, with Lee Edelman, Sex, or the Unbearable (2014).

Natalie Zemon Davis is a social and cultural historian of early modern times. She has written on peasants and artisans in early modern France; on women in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Québec; on criminality and storytelling in sixteenth-century France; on forms of gift-giving in early modern times; and on Muslims and Christians in sixteenth-century Europe. Source (external link) 

Rei Terada is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Looking Away: Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction, Kant to Adorno (2009), Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the ?Death of the Subject? (2001), and Derek Walcott's Poetry: American Mimicry (1992).

Joshua Clover specializes in critical theory, Marxism, political theory, political economy, poetry and poetics. Interests include social movements, social reproduction theory, crisis theory and the end of capitalism. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Comparative Literature, and affiliated faculty in French and Italian Department, Film Studies Program and the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. He is affiliated with the Mellon Research Initiative in Racial Capitalism.  


Ian Hacking is University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and served as Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at the College de France from 2001-2006. He is the author of many significant books, including Rewriting the Soul, Mad Travelers, The Social Construction of What, and The Taming of Chance; the last was named by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the 20th Century. Professor Hacking was awarded the 2001 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, the 2002 Killiam Prize for the Humanities, and the 2009 Holberg International Memorial Prize.

Robin D. G. Kelley is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Much of his work focuses on social movements in the U.S. and the African Diaspora, and he has written widely on music, visual culture, and arts more broadly.

As an activist and cultural critic, Ross will explore the impact of a global economy on labour, urban life and the environment. A bold writer who is unafraid to immerse himself in his research, Ross has examined a wide range of workforces – from those in sweatshops to those inside New York City’s Silicon Alley. Ross’s writing calls into question the forces of globalization and seeks realistic solutions.

He will explain how and why our work life has become precarious and will discuss ideas and policies foundational to building a renewable jobs economy. He will also highlight the prospects of creating jobs that do not take an unsustainable toll on the environment in the face of mass unemployment.

A professor at the University of California Riverside (UCR) and director of its film and visual culture program, Miller will draw on work by journalist and author Ioan Davies, a York professor from 1972 to 2000, to raise questions about the media’s environmental impact through electronic waste. He will also discuss whether discourse should be limited in the name of environmental responsibility rather than endlessly expanded in the name of democracy. His research interests include media, sport, labour, gender, race, citizenship, politics and cultural policy via political economy.

Thomas King, two-time Governor General Award nominee, will give this year's prestigious Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture entitled "The Amazing Race: Social Responsibility, Home Construction, and Bottled Water".

It is the goal of Canada's best-selling First Nations story-teller to draw attention to another "inconvenient truth" with this year's lecture. In tying together issues that have dominated the media in recent months -- global warming, increasing public wariness of transnational capitalism (exemplified by the Montebello Summit protests at home), and the vilified bottled water, King is unafraid to ask the questions that would make most academics and politicians alike squirm in their seats.

In 2003 King presented his book, The Truth About Stories as part of the distinguished Massey Lectures. As a broadcaster, he created and starred in the hit CBC show, "The Dead Dog Café." His subsequent work in academia, print, film, and radio have turned him into the nation's most beloved story-teller.  

The 2006 Memorial Lecture was presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Terry Eagleton is a novelist, essayist, activist and Professor of Literary and Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester. He began his distinguished academic career with an interest in 19th and 20th century literature, but is best known as one of the leading voices in cultural theory of our time. Prolific and eclectic, Eagleton's thought ranges from his early explorations of the relationship between politics and theology, to the Marxist tradition in critical theory, to Irish literature and social history. He also remains an outspoken critic of what he sees as the blind spots of literary and cultural scholarship today, raising important issues concerning politics, justice and equality.

He is author of numerous scholarly and creative works, including Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983), The Illusions of the Postmodern (1996), The Idea of Culture (2000), and After Theory (2003). He is also a regular contributor to The Guardian, The New Statesman and Red Pepper.

Michael Hardt is a literary theorist and professor at Duke University. He is the co-author, with Antonio Negri, of the best-selling Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000) and its follow-up Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004).

He is also co-author of Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-form (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), author of Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993) and co-editor of The Jameson Reader, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000) and Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).  

Susan Buck-Morss is professor of political philosophy, social theory and visual culture at Cornell University. She is also a renowned author and scholar whose work is considered essential reading for students of critical theory. Her books include The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodore W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt Institute (Free Press, 1977), The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (MIT Press, 1989), and Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (MIT Press, 2000). She has also authored several influential essays, including "Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin's Artwork Essay Reconsidered" (October, Fall 1992) and "Hegel and Haiti" (Critical Inquiry, Summer 2000). 

In her most recent work,Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left (Verso, 2003) she investigates the possibility of a new progressive global politic and how the Left might go beyond critique to engage real political alternatives.

An internationally acclaimed scholar and media commentator, Keane is founder and director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London, England. He says a rising tide of anti-democratic behaviour and new fears of violence and war are battering democracy’s global "triumph" of a decade ago. 

Professor of politics at the University of Westminster, Keane is known for re-introducing the Enlightenment notion of "civil society" into contemporary social theory. He has emphasized the role of civil society groups in maintaining cultures of democracy under reactionary governments, and their importance in a globalized world and in the creation of new forms of governance.

Keane is author of numerous books, including the prize-winning Tom Paine: A Political Life (1995), and his most recent work, Global Civil Society? (2003). His work has been translated into many languages and he is a regular contributor toThe Times Literary Supplement.

Will Straw is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Communications at McGill University. He has written extensively on popular music, urban culture and film studies.

He has co-edited many volumes, among them: Accounting for Culture: Thinking Through Cultural Citizenship (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2005); The Cambridge Companion to Rock and Pop(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Theory Rules: Art as Theory, Theory as Art (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996). 

He is also author of many essays and book chapters and is an investigator in several major Canadian research projects, including The Culture of Cities (SSHRC), The Digital Cities Project (FQRSC) and Documentation and Conservation of Media Arts Heritage (SSHRC CURA).

Lawrence Grossberg is the Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies and the Director of the Program in Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an internationally renowned scholar of popular culture and the co-editor of the international journal Cultural Studies. 

His books include It's a Sin: Essays on Postmodernism, Politics and Culture (Sydney: Power Publications, 1988),We Gotta Get Out Of This Place: Popular Conservatism and Postmodern Culture (New York: Routledge, 1992), Dancing in Spite of Myself: Essays in Popular Culture(Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), Bringing It All Back Home: Essays in Cultural Studies (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), and MediaMaking(Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1998).