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Department of American and Canadian Studies
   
   
  
 

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Gillian Roberts

Associate Professor in North American Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts

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Expertise Summary

My research focus on Canadian cultural texts and their circulation and celebration examines how the boundaries of 'Canadianness' are constructed and reconstructed according to opportunities for Canada to accrue cultural power. My work consistently returns to hospitality discourse both in its engagement with immigrant and hyphenate Canadian writers who become internationally celebrated and in my interest in the Canada-US border: in both these areas, I am interested in how a 'Canadian host position' is constructed, as well as in the discrepancy between Canada's projection of itself as hospitable and the exclusivity with which 'Canadianness' is often defined. Thus, I often return to concepts of citizenship in my work in my effort to assess Canada's claims to be a just society as they are presented and invoked in its settler-invader postcolonial culture.

Teaching Summary

My teaching interests lie in the areas of Canadian literature and culture, Canada-US border studies, and film adaptation. I teach in semester 2 on the Level 1 core module, Canadian Literature, Film… read more

Research Summary

My current research focuses on cultural representations of the Canada-US border, primarily, although not exclusively, in Canadian culture. The book, forthcoming in 2015 from McGill-Queen's University… read more

My teaching interests lie in the areas of Canadian literature and culture, Canada-US border studies, and film adaptation. I teach in semester 2 on the Level 1 core module, Canadian Literature, Film and Culture (Q41119), which introduces students to Canadian literary and visual culture through discussion of the wilderness paradigm, Quebec nationalism, Indigenous culture, multiculturalism, the Canada-US border, and Canadian popular culture. I also teach a second-year option, North American Film Adaptations (Q42307), which discusses North American literary texts adapted across national boundaries, and a third-year option, Contemporary Canadian Literature (Q43342), which focuses on Canadian literary texts published from 2000 to the present, (MA students can take Contemporary Canadian Literature as an MA variant (Q44342)). In other years, I also teach a second-year option module, America's Borders: Culture at the Limits (Q42324), comparing the Mexico-US border with the Canada-US border, with my colleague Stephanie Lewthwaite.

All of my modules seek to combine close examination of cultural texts with consideration of larger cultural contexts of production and consumption. Student participation is a crucial component of my approach to seminar teaching, and contributes to my modules' assessment, alongside written and sometimes verbal assignments.

Current Research

My current research focuses on cultural representations of the Canada-US border, primarily, although not exclusively, in Canadian culture. The book, forthcoming in 2015 from McGill-Queen's University Press, comprises chapters on travel writing, cross-border policing dramas, First Nations and Native American approaches to the border, African-Canadian perspectives on the border, and Canada's relationship to Latin America. I am Co-Investigator on the Culture and the Canada-US Border International Research Network (PI David Stirrup, Kent), funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and I was the organiser of the network's Cultural Crossings: Production, Consumption, and Reception across the Canada-US Border conference, which took place at Nottingham 20-22 June, 2014.

PhD theses by past and present supervisees have focused on cultural representations of Vancouver, literary representations of Toronto, queer theatre in Toronto, Carol Shields's fiction, and comparative border studies. I would welcome expressions of interest from potential PhD candidates working in the areas of literary prize culture, film adaptations, Canada-US border studies, and contemporary Canadian literature and cinema.

Past Research

My PhD focused on Canadian writers Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields and their relationship to national and international literary prizes, as well as the ways in which international celebration is involved in negotiating the identities of immigrant writers. My first monograph, entitled Prizing Literature: The Celebration and Circulation of National Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2011), extends the PhD material and adds writers Rohinton Mistry and Yann Martel to my discussion. Prizing Literature won the International Council for Canadian Studies' Pierre Savard Award.

Future Research

Future plans for my research include studies of postcolonial film adaptations, Canadian cosmopolitanism, the construction of citizenship in the settler-invader cultures of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and further examination of Canadian culture in a hemispheric context.

Department of American and Canadian Studies

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD


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