Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Cynthea Masson

  • B.A. (Guelph)
  • MA (McMaster)
  • PhD (McMaster)

Middle English literature and language; medieval visionary, mystical, and alchemical literature and rhetoric; television studies; composition.

Prior to my forays into the academic world surrounding Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my research areas included Chaucer, medieval mysticism, and medieval alchemical literature. Thanks to a SSRHC postdoctoral fellowship, I spent several months in the British Library’s medieval manuscript room studying alchemical manuscripts. My alchemy-focused articles include “Text as Stone: Desire, Sex, and the Figurative Hermaphrodite in the Ordinal and Compound of Alchemy” (published in Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain in 2014). My alchemy-inspired fiction includes The Alchemists’ Council trilogy (published by ECW Press in 2016, 2018, and 2020). Over my two decades at VIU, I have published and presented on various television series, including Buffy, AngelFirefly, and Dollhouse. I’ve also taught upper-level television narrative courses on Firefly and Black Mirror. Awards for my writing include the IPPY 2017 Gold Medal in Fantasy for The Alchemists’ Council; the IPPY 2019 Bronze Medal in Fantasy for The Flaw in the Stone; and the 2013 Whatley Award: Best Paper in Studies in Popular Culture for “‘Break Out the Champagne, Pinocchio’: Angel and the Puppet Paradox.” A conjunction of creativity and academic rigour informs both my writing and teaching. From first-year composition courses to upper-level medieval literature courses, I aim to bring into the classroom Chaucer’s philosophy of “best sentence and moost solaas”—that is, both meaning and pleasure (General Prologue 798).