Colloquium Series

Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series - Join us in the Malaspina Theatre for Reflective and Engaging Faculty Presentations

Since its beginning in 2009, the Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series has engendered conversations about ideas among members of the Arts and Humanities Faculty and their communities both at VIU and in the mid-Island region. Our presenters have shown how important the arts and humanities are to understanding today’s world. We are delighted to share exciting scholarly and creative work with our audiences and invite you to join us.

In 2023-24, the VIU Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series will be held in the Malaspina Theatre. All presentations will take place from 10 to 11:30 am.

Spring 2024

Mino-Bimaadiziwin as Critical Theory: Reading Atwood’s Speculative Fiction Through an Ojibwe Lens


February 2, 10 - 11:30am

Bryn Skibo, EnglishBryn Skibo

This presentation follows the path blazed by First Nations and Native American scholars who have argued for the value in using Indigenous epistemologies as critical theories in a largely non-Indigenous academic context.

Following their research and practice, it uses the Anishinaabe epistemology of Mino-Bimaadiziwin (“the way of the good life”) to read Margaret Atwood’s speculative novel, MaddAddam. Some may question the relevance of Indigenous studies in this novel due to the near-absence of non-white characters in the trilogy; others may question the relevance of Margaret Atwood to the conversation of Indigenous studies in light of the criticisms brought against her fiction and non-fiction for the (stereotypical or appropriative) representation (or lack thereof) of Indigenous people and cultures and due to her participation in debates regarding the supposed claims of Native identity made by Canadian authors. Nevertheless, this presentation argues that reading MaddAddam in terms of Mino-Bimaadiziwin highlights the epistemological significance of the novel’s inventive use of discourse and unusual (for Atwood) representation of nonhuman life. Reading the novel in terms of Anishinaabe epistemologies not only illuminates the critical value of these ways of seeing the world, but highlights the ways in which non-Indigenous philosophies like post-structuralism and post-humanism are indebted to marginalized fields of theory which preceded them, often by centuries. As such, this talk has three goals: to provide an in-depth narratological analysis of one of Atwood’s most popular novels; in doing so, to offer an alternative theoretical approach to the novel which includes Native epistemologies; and to do the necessary work of academic decolonization by challenging the commonly accepted wisdom of who produces theory and to whom it is applied.

Bryn Skibo (she/her) completed her doctoral studies and a one-year post-doctoral research project at University of Geneva (UNIGE), specializing in Narratology, Animal Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Vegan Studies. Her dissertation analyzed the narrative performance of inter-species relationality through an inter-disciplinary framework comprised of posthumanism and Anishinaabe epistem-ontologies, through Genettian narratology. She is the Senior Book Reviews Editor for Transmotion, a peer-reviewed and open-access journal publishing critical essays, reviews, and creative writing on contemporary Indigenous literatures. Her most recent publication, “Indigenous Narratives” (co-authored with Deborah Madsen), was published in The Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Literature (Wiley Blackwell, 2022). In addition to her research and publications in Indigenous Literatures, she has also published and presented on Animal Studies, Posthumanism, Post-Structuralism, New Journalism, and Narratology. When not teaching, she is busy developing a book project on Critical Animal Studies and Vegan Studies and walking her dog, Bonnie, in the forests around Nanaimo.

Time Travelling through the Portal: The Evolution and Issues of a National Literary Magazine

March 22, 10 - 11:30 am

Joy Gugeler, Media Studies / Creative Writing and Journalism, with Portal Alumni

Join current and former Portalers for a how-to meets walk-down-memory-lane, as the masthead shares how a black-and-white photocopied and stapled chapbook for a publishing class went from this early incarnation to a 96-page, full-colour, nationally distributed literary magazine on newsstands and online. In response to the shifting publishing landscape and the ambitions of the 20 students in the class over the last 15 years, Portal has developed a monthly reading series, a national contest, an innovative online and social media presence, a spotlight on writers from other cultures, podcast and print interviews with award-winning writers, and a celebration of graduates with new books. In an age demanding authenticity, how does a print magazine respond to its evolving readership and answer the call for inclusivity, decolonization, and representation with more than just intention? How do words that transport also reflect our times as we travel through the portal of our most intimate and artistic ideas onto the page? 


Joy GugelerJoy Gugeler Teaches in the Department of Creative Writing & Journalism and the Department of Media Studies and has edited literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry and six magazines, both print and online, since 1991 for ECW, Raincoast, and Beach Holme presses; ARC, Quarry, and Room quarterlies; and Suite 101, NowPublic, and Orato online. She operates Chameleon Consulting: Change Your Mind and frequently juries national and provincial book and magazine awards and grants and gives workshops for industry professionals. She hosted CHLY’s Books & Bytes on Be the Media, and oversees Portal magazine and the editing and publishing of the Gustafson Chapbook series for VIU. She has hosted on-air programming for CBC radio and Bravo! and has reviewed books for the Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, and Ottawa Citizen. In 2001 she co-founded the Canadian Book Camp in Vancouver for children aged 11 to 16 and was on the board of the Red Cedar Award 2006-13. She has taught editing at Ryerson since 2002 and at SFU as a guest instructor in the Masters of Publishing and Summer Publishing Workshops (since 1996) where she is preparing to defend her PhD in Communications / Publishing. She has taught the following Media Studies courses: Making the News, Digital Social Narratives, Technology & Identity, Digital Media Literacy, Interactive Communications, Emerging Technologies, and History of Communications. 

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Talking Arts, Seeing Ideas.