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Cheryl Thompson

Cheryl Thompson's headshot

Dr. Cheryl Thompson


Associate Professor


  • Ph.D. Communication Studies
  • M.A. Communication and Culture
  • B.A.  Honours Criminology


In 2023, Dr. Cheryl was promoted to Associate Professor in Performance at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). She joined the School as Assistant Professor in 2022. She was previously faculty in Creative Industries (2018-2021). She is the author of Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Loyalty (2021) and Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture (2019), (external link)  (external link)  external link (external link)  (external link) . Dr. Thompson is currently director of Black Creative Lab, which extends the pedagogy of THF470: Black Creative Practices, an open elective course that unpacks Black creative origins, forms, and styles. Black Creative Lab's projects include, MobaProjects, is a digital mapping of Black archival collections in Ontario; BREC, a collection and database that catalogues blackface as performance and Black community's resistance to it across time and space. 

In 2021, Dr. Thompson was a recipient of an Ontario Early Researcher Award (2021-26) titled, “Mapping Ontario’s Black Archives Through Storytelling,” this project aims to catalogue Ontario’s Black archival collections, and through ethnographic interviews with the province’s creative community, collect stories about the collections that will culminate with a public exhibition curated by Dr. Thompson and her research team. In addition to publishing in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers, Dr. Thompson has also appeared on numerous podcasts and media platforms in Canada and internationally. Dr. Thompson holds a PhD in Communication Studies from McGill University. She previously held a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Theatre, Drama & Performance Studies, and the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Department of English & Drama. In 2021, Dr. Thompson was named to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Current Undergraduate Courses: 

  • THF 200 Timelines in Performance History I
  • THF 403 Landmarks in Canadian Theatre 
  • THF 470 Black Creative Practices

Current Graduate Courses

  • CC 8902 Research Methodologies

Previously Taught Courses: 

  • THF 501 Research Methods 
  • CRI 680 Celebrity 
  • CRI 630 Advertising Theory & Practice 
  • CRI 100 Creative Industries Overview 
  • CRI 560 Special Topics Global Visual Culture
  • CRI 710 Research Methodology 
  • CC 8836 Race Gender Digital Technology


Thompson, Cheryl. Canada and the Blackface Atlantic. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press (writing; anticipated 2024).

Thompson, Cheryl. Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Loyalty. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2021.

Thompson, Cheryl. Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2019.


Edited Books and Journals

Thompson, Cheryl & Campbell, Miranda (Eds.). Creative Industries in Canada. Vancouver: Canadian Scholars Press (2022). 

Thompson, Cheryl (Guest Ed.), Special Issue on “Black Canadian Creativity, Expressive Cultures, and Narratives of Space and Place.” The Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire 56 3 (Winter 2021): 213-380.


Journal Articles

Thompson, Cheryl. “Black Canadians in the Journal of Canadian Communication: Is there a Problem with Speaking for Others?” Canadian Journal of Communication Special Issue, On the Margins of the Margins: Racism and Colonialism in Canadian Communication Studies (47) 3 (2022): 440-461.  (external link)  (external link) 

Thompson, Cheryl. "Casting Blackface in Canada: Unmasking the History of 'White and Black' Minstrel Shows." Canadian Theatre Review (In-press)

Thompson, Cheryl. ”Black Creativity, Expressive Cultures, and Narratives of Space and Place.” Special Issue on “Black Canadian Creativity, Expressive Cultures, and Narratives of Space and Place,” The Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire 56 3 (Winter 2021): 213-215.

Thompson, Cheryl. “Black Minstrelsy on Canadian Stages: Nostalgia for Plantation Slavery in the 19th and 20th Centuries.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, (31) 1 (2021): 67-94. (external link) . **Winner, The CHA Journal Prize for the best article from #1 and #2 issues, 2021 (external link) **

Thompson, Cheryl. “The Show Did Go On: How Theatre Changed After the Last Pandemic.” Canadian Theatre Review, 127 (Summer 2021): 91-93. (external link) .

Thompson, Cheryl. "Visualizing the Presence of Blackness in Canada’s West: Reading the Glenbow’s and Breton Museum’s Black Exhibitions. (external link) " Journal of Critical Race Inquiry (8) 1 (2021): 22-41. 

Thompson, Cheryl & Jabouin, Emilie. “Black Media Reporting on Theater, Dance, and Jazz Clubs in Canada: From Shuffle Along to Rockhead’s Paradise.” Journal of Communication Inquiry (0) 0 (2021): 1-21. (external link) .

Thompson, Cheryl. “From Venus to ‘Black Venus’: Beyoncé’s I Have Three Hearts, Fashion and the Limits of Visual Culture.” (external link)  Fashion Studies (3) 1 (2020): 1-24. 

Thompson, Cheryl.  (PDF file) “Black Canada and Why the Archival Logic of Memory Needs Reform.”  (external link) Les Ateliers de l'éthique/Ethics Forum, special issue The Ethical Challenges of Recovering Historical Memory (14) 2 (2020): 76-106. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site and Creolization: The Material and Visual Culture of Archival Memory,” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal (2019), (external link) .

Thompson, Cheryl. “Locating ‘Dixie’ in Newspaper Discourse and Theatrical Performance in Toronto, 1880s to 1920s.” Canadian Review of American Studies (49) 2 (2019): 205-25. (external link) . **Canadian Association for American Studies, 2019 Honorable Mention, Ernest Redekop Essay Prize (external link) **

Thompson, Cheryl. “Rethinking the Archive in the Public Sphere.” Roundtable on History for Non-Historians, Canadian Journal of History / Annales canadiennes d’histoire 54 1-2 (2019): 32-8, (external link) .

Thompson, Cheryl. “I’s in Town, Honey’: Reading Aunt Jemima Advertising in Canadian Print Media, 1919 to 1962.” Journal of Canadian Studies 49 1 (Winter 2015): 205-37. (external link) .

Thompson, Cheryl. “Cultivating Narratives of Race, Faith, and Community: The Dawn of Tomorrow, 1923–1971.” Canadian Journal of History / Annales canadiennes d’histoire 50 1 (2015): 30-67. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Neoliberalism, Soul Food, and the Weight of Black Women.” Feminist Media Studies 15 5 (2015), 794-812. (external link) .

Thompson, Cheryl. “Contesting the Aunt Jemima Trademark through Feminist Art: Why is she still smiling?” n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, 31 (2013): 65–72. **No longer in print, see**

Thompson, Cheryl. “Black Women and Hair as a Matter of Being.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 38 8 (2009): 831-856. DOI: 10.1080/00497870903238463. 


Book Chapters

Thompson, Cheryl & Crooks, Julie. “Race, Community, and the Picturing of Identities: Photography and the Black Subject in Ontario, 1860 to 1900.” In Unsettling the Great White North: African Canadian History, 433-454. Michele A. Johnson and Funké Aladejebi, Eds. Toronto: Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and Its Diasporas (2022). 

Thompson, Cheryl & Wowk, Lucy. “The Globe and Daily Star Report on Spanish Flu, 1918-19: Reading Toronto’s Response to the Pandemic’s Second Wave.” In Pandemics & Epidemics in Cultural Representation. Sathyaraj Venkatesan, et al., Eds. London: Springer Nature (2022). 

Thompson, Cheryl. "The Patty: The Jamaican Staple Turned Diasporic Street Food." What We Talk About When We Talk About Dumplings. John Lorinc, Ed. Toronto: Coach House Books (In-press).

Thompson, Cheryl. “How Photojournalism Challenged Anti-Black Racism in 1970s Toronto.” In Call and Response-ability: Black Canadian Works of Art and the Politics of Relation. Karina Vernon and Winfried Siemerling, Eds. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s (In-press). 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Brand Advertising in Contrast in the 1970s: Selling Race and Culture Through Beer.” In Canada’s 19th Century Black Press: Roots and Trajectories of Exceptional Communication and Intellectual Activism. Claudine Bonner, Nina Reid-Maroney, and Boulou Ebanda de B'béri, Eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (In-press).

Thompson, Cheryl. “Representing Misogynoir in Canadian News Media: From BLMTO to Marci Ien.” In Women in Popular Culture in Canada. Laine Zisman Newman, Ed, 26-41. Toronto: Canadian Scholar/Women’s Press, 2020. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “My Ten-Year Dreadlock Journey: Why I Love the ‘kink’ in My Hair… Today.” In Body Battlegrounds: Transgressions, Tensions, and Transformations. Samantha Kwan and Chris Bobel, Eds., pp. 54-55. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2019.

Thompson, Cheryl. “An Intersectional Analysis of Controlling Images and Neoliberal Meritocracy on Scandal and Empire.” In Neoliberalism and the U.S. Media. Marian Joanne Meyers, Ed., pp. 176-91. New York: Routledge, 2019. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Come One, Come All’: Blackface Minstrelsy as a Canadian Tradition and Early Form of Popular Culture.” In Towards an African-Canadian Art History: Art, Memory, and Resistance. Charmaine Nelson, Ed., pp. 95-121. Concord, Ontario: Captus Press, 2018. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “The New Afro in a Postfeminist Media Culture: Rachel Dolezal, Beyoncé’s ‘Formation,’ and the Politics of Choice.” In Emergent Feminisms: Challenging a Post-Feminist Media Culture. Jessalynn Keller and Maureen Ryan, Eds., 161-175. New York: Routledge, 2018. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Searching for Black Voices in Canada’s Archives: The Invisibility of a ‘Visible’ Minority.” PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas, Special Issue on Archive/Anarchive/Counter-Archive. May Chew, Susan Lord, Janine Marchessault, Eds., pp. 82-89. Toronto: York University, 2018. 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Remembering Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” In The Ward Uncovered: The Archeology of Everyday Life. Michael McClelland, Holly Martelle, Tatum Taylor and John Lorinc, (Eds.), pp. 156-162. Toronto: Coach House Books/Alana Wilcox, 2018.


Online Publications 

Ongoing Columns

Everything Zoomer (external link) 

The Conversation (external link) 

Spacing (external link) 



Thompson, Cheryl. “Why Social Media Activism Inevitably Disadvantages Black People (external link) .” Heliotrope (April 6, 2022).

Thompson, Cheryl. “Dismantling the Myth of the Hero (external link) .” Geist Magazine. 119 (2022): 54-57.

Thompson, Cheryl. "Shear Style (external link) ." Canada’s History. 102.2 (2022): 20-27.

Thompson, Cheryl. “Blackface incident at Parkdale Collegiate in Toronto is a window into a centuries-long history (external link) ,” (Nov. 4, 2021). 

Thompson, Cheryl & Jabouin, Emilie. “Blackface in the Kodak Archive, Ryerson’s Special Collections: Context for Reading ‘Racist’ Images,” Ryerson Library (Feb. 3, 2021). 

Thompson, Cheryl. “The Wealth Gap Existed Long Before COVID-19 (external link) ,” blog (May 25, 2020). 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Trudeau Survived. Now Stop Pretending Canada Is a Diverse Paradise (external link) ,” New York Times (Oct. 23, 2019).

Thompson, Cheryl. “Why Blackface Persists and What Historians Can Do to Change It (external link) ,” Archivehistory (Oct. 7, 2019).

Thompson, Cheryl. “Trudeau and blackface: it's time to stop a practice that's as Canadian as hockey (external link) ,” The National (Sept. 26, 2019). 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Why Trudeau’s ‘brownface’ photo is not shocking (external link) ,” Toronto Star (Sept. 19, 2019).

Thompson, Cheryl. “Hair We Are will ignite conversations (external link) ,” Gardiner Museum blog (July 11, 2019).

Thompson, Cheryl. “Being Black and a Tourist in Halifax (external link) ,” The Halifax Coast (June 21, 2018). 

Thompson, Cheryl. “Canada’s Black Beauty Culture is More than a Politics (external link) ,” GUTS Magazine (Feb. 26, 2018).

Thompson, Cheryl. “The Sweet Taste of Lemonade: Beyoncé Serves Up Feminist History (external link) .” Herizons, 30.2 (Summer 2016): 40-42.

“Mapping Ontario’s Black Archives Through Storytelling”
Ontario Government Early Researcher Award, (2021-2026), $190,000
Project Director

“White Skin, Black Masks: Canada's Blackface Secret”
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Connection Grant (2020-2022), $47,625
Co-applicant, Pink Moon Studio

“Newspapers, Minstrelsy and Black Performance at the Theatre: Mapping the Spaces of Nation-Building in Toronto, 1870s to 1930s”
SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2019-2022), $48,072
Principal Investigator

“Newspapers, Theatres, and the Spaces of Black Performance in Toronto”
The Creative School SRC Seed Grant (2018-2019), $6880
Principal Investigator

"Creating Public Access to Black Archives and the Performing Arts"                                                                                             Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Cananda (SSHRC) Connection Grant (2022-2023), $42.336

  • Theatre & Performance Studies
  • Black Beauty Culture & Fashion
  • Archives & Archiving Practices
  • Black Canadian History & Culture
  • African American History & Culture
  • Visual Culture & Photography
  • Black Dance & Music Culture
  • Advertising & Consumer Culture
  • Critical Digital Technologies
  • Black Feminist Media Studies
  • Celebrity & Promotional Culture

Gold Series (external link) , a Procter & Gamble hair care product line designed for afro-textured hair. In partnership with MLS Group (external link) , a Toronto-based PR-led creative communications agency, and in collaboration with Black Women in Motion (external link) , a Toronto-based, youth-led organization we co-created the #MyHairMyStory campaign (launched January 21, 2021).

Co-Producer/Narrator, Blackface Nation (feature film, in-production), co-producers, Pink Moon Studio, Toronto (forthcoming, 2023).