Excerpts

  • An excerpt from 'Homophobia in the Hallways' by Tonya D. Callaghan

    On a cold day in March 2011, an inconspicuous, unremarkable group of students at St Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, did something remarkable, something that, in their school – indeed in Catholic schools across Canada at the time – was unthinkable. They requested permission to establish a club, a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) club in their school. To the unenlightened eye, their action appeared small, routine even. It was a logical request for an in-school club whose focus would be to make the school a safe space for lgbtq students and their straight allies by raising awareness about, and so hopefully reducing, school-based homophobia. It was not even an original idea; GSAs had originated in the United States almost 25 years before. Unbeknown to these students, they would soon be taking on a significant battle for Canadian LGBTQ rights. Their actions set off a series of events that would reverberate across the country.

    The students quickly learned that St Joseph’s school was not ready for such a club. A maelstrom ensued. The students, led by 16-year-old Leanne Iskander, encountered strong opposition first from their principal and then from administrators at the district level. By June, they remained in a standoff. The students vowed to continue their fight in the next school term.

    The establishment of a GSA in a secular Canadian public school barely seems an issue worth noting, judging by the lack of media stories about such attempts. There is, in fact, no formal mechanism in place to ban GSA clubs in non-religious public schools. Starting a GSA club in a secular public school has often, though not always, proved no more controversial than setting up an anti-racism or debate club. Students who join a GSA in a non-religious school have the right to broadcast their club meeting schedule over the school’s public address system, actively solicit other students for their club using posters and other means, meet on school property, and name their club a GSA without any concern over the use of the word gay. Note that publicly funded separate Catholic schools are accountable to civil, not church, authorities. Religious bodies do not have a constitutional or legal interest in separate schools, and, as such, Canadian Catholic separate schools are not private or parochial schools as many are in other countries.

    In Canadian Catholic schools, such as St Joseph Secondary School in Mississauga, however – a publicly funded school, I must emphasize – Leanne Iskander and friends’ request to establish such a club was rejected outright more than once and caused serious alarm, not only for the administrators of St Joseph’s but also for its school district, the Ontario bishops, and the Ontario provincial government.

    The increasingly public battle between this particular group of students in St Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School and their Catholic school administrators is significant because it represents the growing discontent between publicly funded Canadian Catholic schools and Canadian society at large. In Canada, same-sex legal rights have been steadily advancing – in 2005 Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize marriage equality nationwide (Rayside, 2008) – and Canadian gay Pride parades regularly attract millions of tourist dollars. In the publicly funded Canadian Catholic school system, however, advances in same-sex legal rights have been virtually non-existent. When trying to determine how to manage the existence of lgbtq people (students, teachers, aids, and support staff included) in Canadian Catholic schools, Catholic education leaders turn to Catholic doctrine rather than to their legal authority – Canadian human rights law. Catholic doctrine describes “homosexual acts” as “acts of grave depravity” that are “intrinsically disordered” and count among the list of “sins gravely contrary to chastity” (cited in Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops [OCCB], 2004a, p. 53). Needless to say, relying on Catholic doctrine as a guide for curricular and policy decisions makes Canadian Catholic schools hotbeds for homophobia.

  • An excerpt from 'Prairie Fairies' by Valerie J. Korinek

    Prairie Fairies makes a contribution to a small but important literature analysing the history of gay liberationist activism in Canada and of the ways that Canadian activism was inspired by – and aware of – American developments, while differing from them in important ways.  Importantly, in a context where, as Miriam Smith has argued, the “national” movement was never more than a “set of loose networks … rather than a coherent actor,” local queer organizations were the source of most activities. The prairies thriving activist scenes, in Winnipeg and Saskatoon in particular, would play an important role in generating local activism and contributing to the “national” liberationist scene. Westerners played a more significant role than earlier pan-national works have acknowledged, including [the fact] that western activist groups hosted three of the eight national gay and lesbian conferences held between 1973 and 1980.

    Gay liberationist strategies and tactics continued to be articulated and used in the west well into the mid-1980s. At a time when many central Canadian organizations would shift to “rights talk” and legal “equality seeking” in the early to mid-1980s, westerners continued with various platforms of the liberationist strategies, including consciousness-raising, education, and human rights matters when they arose. Taking a historical, regional approach to gay and lesbian activism captures continuity and change, offers more perspective into social actors and local organizations, and deepens our knowledge of the breadth of regional queer political work. It was AIDS that changed the focus of western Canadian activist organizations, as well as activist migrations and burnout, not a shift to “rights” talk in the advent of the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    By 1985, AIDS had arrived in all the prairie cities and this plague dramatically transformed the organizational, activist, and queer communities in the various cities, as attention turned from liberationist goals to medical advocacy and support. Hopefully, future historians will research and write that social history. The connections and debates fostered about health, politics, sexuality, and relations between lesbians and gay men post-AIDS offers another vantage point on questions about place, sexuality, and queer politics. AIDS conclusively ended any anachronistic or utopian notion that prairie cities were not home to sizable populations of lesbians and gays, or that LGBT residents would be content to be second-class citizens with respect to medical care, political representation, or basic human rights protections.

    From 1930 to 1985, Prairie Fairies demonstrates that queer people created communities; fostered social, educational and social service opportunities; and, indeed, created spaces for prairie residents to be gay or lesbian. People found pockets of urban spaces in which to be queer – this became a precursor to formal politics for some individuals, but also a way to assert a political identity in a place constantly trying to ignore, silence, or eradicate such differences. Putting the queer westerners back into the modern history of prairie cities and prairie societies reclaims important literal and historical space for prairie queer people, and moves them from the margins to the centre of the historical frame. From the 1930s through to the mid-1980s, queer westerners were part of vibrant queer and straight communities, and stories of these “mavericks” ironically fit beautifully within the prairie historiography at the very same time that their existence challenges everything we thought we knew about these provinces.

  • Behind the Book with Bruce Newman

    The Marketing Revolution in Politics: What Recent U.S. Presidential Campaigns Can Teach Us About Effective Marketing

    Bruce Newman talks about his fantastic new UTP title: The Marketing Revolution in Politics: What Recent U.S. Presidential Campaigns Can Teach Us About Effective Marketing

    How did you become involved in your area of research?

    I had to choose a dissertation topic and found myself very interested in politics, even though I was pursuing a PhD in Marketing.  This became the starting point for my interest in the field of Political Marketing.  Over the past 35 years, the field has grown into a mature discipline.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    My wife, Judy, urged me to write a book about the Obama Presidency for some time before I finally decided to take her up on the challenge.  The book was started after Obama won his second presidency, and it was then that I realized that there was a paradigm shift in politics, and this book needed to be written, both to reflect on the changes in the political system because of the innovative use of technology by Obama in 2008 and 2012, as well as to report on how this paradigm could also be used in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors by marketing managers working in many different industries.

    How did you become interested in the subject?

    I realized that a more interesting application of the principles of marketing that I studied as a PhD student could be found in the political marketplace, a market that represented an extreme case study of marketing, where the challenges were great:

    • Many different segments to satisfy, each with different needs and wants.
    • 24/7 oversight of the market, not found in any other one.
    • An organization in crisis-mode, even before a presidential campaign actually starts, forcing the players to be able to change on a dime and be nimble at all times.
    • Brands, in the form of politicians, constantly being attacked and altered on a day-to-day basis from the start of the campaign.

    How long did it take you to write your latest book?

    This book contract was signed March, 2013 and accepted for publication approximately 2 years later in April, 2015, with publication in January, 2016.

    What do you find most interesting about your area of research?

    What I wrote about in the book, which is the juxtaposition of the use of Big Data, Customer Analytics, Micro-targeting and Social Media in 3 different sectors: The political; for-profit; and nonprofit, how these marketing tools are used to go through the 7 lessons reported in the book, and what the best practices are within each of the 3 sectors studied.

    What do you wish other people knew about your area of research?

    How important marketing really is in controlling the message and in determining every move a politician makes both during a campaign, as well as after they get into office.

    What’s the most surprising thing you discovered during the course of your research?

     Two things:

    1. That the Obama 2012 campaign team discovered that there was not any negative reaction to supporters of Obama receiving multiple email requests, sometimes even weekly for funds.
    2. That Obama in 2012 won the popular vote with only 3% margin, but won the electoral vote with 30% margin, the result of a carefully crafted marketing campaign that relied on micro-targeting.

    Do you have to travel much concerning the research/writing of your book?

    No, but since I lecture around the world once or twice a year, now for over 30 years, I find that going to other countries and comparing and contrasting how political systems operate overseas forces me to get a better understanding on how ours works.

    What was the hardest part of writing your book?

    Sitting down almost every day and working on it.  Writing is not an easy task.

    What did you learn from writing your book?

    That editing and re-editing is a must.

    What are your current/future projects?

    I am currently working on my next book, planning to speak in Russia this summer, and expect to be very busy with the media responding to the many requests for interviews that have already started.

    What do you like to read for pleasure?  What are you currently reading?

    I like to read current events in magazines and newspapers.

    What is your favourite book?

    PT Boat 109, the story of John F. Kennedy when he was in the navy.  That book sparked my interest in politics when I was very young.

    If you weren’t working in academia, what would you be doing instead?

    Probably working in a corporation, or perhaps running for political office.

     

  • Behind the Book with David Fraser

    Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997

    David Fraser gives an insight into the production of his UTP title: Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997

    How did you become involved in your area of research?

    I am interested in the ways in which law and legal institutions deal with the “Other”, in this case Jews within a Roman Catholic and Protestant Quebec, and in the ways in which the apparently disempowered Other deals with legal norms and institutional arrangements. While the formal legal mechanisms protected Roman Catholic and Protestant educational rights, Jewish children and their parents fell into a legal gap where they apparently had no formal rights to schooling. Of course, the practical reality was that no one would really be content with a system in which 10,000 students who wanted to, could not go to school.  The real story, and the one that caught my interest, was how all the participants, Roman Catholics, Protestants and various parts of the Jewish community in Montreal dealt with this conflict between law and social and political reality. For a lawyer, the stories offer object lessons about the ultimate insignificance of formal legal rules when the Jewish parents who wanted to have their children become citizens through education voiced concrete claims for justice and equality as Canadians.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    The germ of the idea for this book emerged when I was a law student, far too many years ago, and wrote a paper on a related subject. The area and the issues stayed in the back of mind while I pursued other topics in my research and eventually I reached the “now or never” stage. I spend much of my research energies focusing on the role of law and lawyers in the implementation of the Holocaust, so the idea of studying the Jewish School Question in Montreal, for all its complexities and occasionally dark moments, actually offered some relief from my main areas of interest. .

    How did you become interested in the subject?

    I have always researched and written in the broad areas of minorities, particularly Roma and Jews, and the ways in which legal rules are invoked to justify oppression, persecution, and even death. The story of Montreal Jewry’s struggles to gain formal educational equality fits into that broad framework, and the idea that the Constitution guaranteed formal equality only for Protestants and Roman Catholics, when faced with the reality of mass Jewish immigration, and Jewish demands for the education of their children, struck me as a typically Canadian story of compromise and conflict, followed by more compromise and conflict.

    How long did it take you to write your latest book?

    5 years from the start of actual research to publication- much longer if we count from the original idea.

    What do you find most interesting about your area of research?

    The most interesting aspect is discovering particular instances of the power of law and legal categories and the sometimes equal power of those who push back against the institutional arrangements when they are inspired by a quest for what they identify as justice. Montreal Jews consistently presented their demands for equality in school rights in terms of their identity as British subjects and then as Canadian citizens. For over a hundred years, complex debates and political battles over what it meant to be “Canadian” directly effected thousands of Jewish children who simply wanted to go to school.

    What do you wish other people knew about your area of research?

    The history of law is much more than a dry recitation of rules, or the professional practices and lives of lawyers and judges. The struggle for justice often exceeds the power and capacity for justice, but the legal history that interests me is the legal history that identifies the ways in which deeply held ideals of equality and justice inform political and social struggles beyond the law. The Jewish School Question in Montreal and its various iterations embodies the story of the ways in which law was circumvented by the ingenious practical solutions created by Protestants, Jews and Roman Catholics in Montreal, always with an aim of achieving equality and justice.

    What was the hardest part of writing your book?

    The hardest part is the answer to the previous question. Living and working in the UK and writing an archivally based book about Montreal poses obvious time and physical constraints on one’s capacity to do the research. On the upside, there was a dramatic increase in my frequent flyer miles.

    What did you learn from writing your book?

    I learned a lot about the actual struggles that people engaged in to protect their identity, good and bad, and again about the power of the ideas of belonging, equality and justice can have in bringing communities together and in pulling them apart. The stories of the Jewish School Question in Montreal embody many of the broader issues of identity and belonging, demands for recognition and equality on all sides, what we now call “accommodation” . Plus ça change

    What are your current/future projects?

    I am working on a couple of shorter projects, one on Canadian Jewish legal history and the other on my primary area of interest, law and the Holocaust. Another major project looms, but is dependent on ever elusive funding.

    What do you like to read for pleasure?  What are you currently reading?

    I read fiction, both literary and detective (although I recognize that the categories are not mutually exclusive). I am currently reading Zachary Lazar’s , I Pity the Poor Immigrant, a clever literary mystery story about my favorite themes of identity and belonging, and with the additional benefit of a title taken from a Bob Dylan song.

    What is your favourite book?

    Joseph Heller, Catch 22- life in a nutshell

    If you weren’t working in academia, what would you be doing instead?

    I don’t know what I would be doing, but I would have liked to have been an extremely successful author of crime fiction. Unfortunately, I lack talent and imagination, so I’m a legal academic..

     

  • Behind the Book with Raymond Stephanson and Darren N. Wagner

    The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century

    Raymond Stephanson and Darren N. Wagner discuss their interdisciplinary examination of the many aspects of reproduction in the eighteenth century – The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century

    How did you become involved in your area of research?

    RAS: In the early 1990s I began researching and writing a book about the famous 18th-century poet Alexander Pope and the ways male creativity was then understood. It became clear to me that a key cultural touchstone for this were reproductive metaphors. Many years later—2004, to be exact—the University of Pennsylvania Press published my The Yard of Wit: Male Creativity and Sexuality, 1650–1750.

    DNW: My early academic background is split between biological sciences and English literature. In 2007 I began an interdisciplinary master’s degree program in 18th-century literature and reproductive biology under the co-supervision of Prof. Stephanson and Prof. Roger Pierson. My specialty in sex and reproduction in the 18th century was forged then, and I have been researching various aspects of this topic since.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    RAS: Having published on 18th-century sex, gender, and reproduction, it was apparent to me and my co-editor Dr. Wagner that such a collection was sorely needed for such an important historical topic.

    How long did it take you to write your latest book?

    DNW: Prof. Stephanson and I first discussed this project in 2011 at a Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies meeting hosted by McMaster University. Four years and a couple thousand emails later, The Secrets of Generation has hit the shelves.

    What do you find most interesting about your area of research?

    RAS: Its diversity and surprising range of application across material and cultural domains: humans, animals, plants, species, heredity, selective breeding, literary expression, scandal and gossip, pornography—all of these include some aspect of reproduction, from theory to praxis to money-making.

    What’s the most surprising thing you discovered during the course of your research?

    RAS: Mainly in talking to others—mostly colleagues—about the work we were putting together, how narrow most peoples’ attitudes were to the subject “reproduction.” My pals always only think about human sex stuff and never about animals, plants, history, and all those other cool things!

    DNW: For my chapter on anatomical displays of male genitalia, I had a small grant from the Scientific Instrument Society to spend some time researching at the Hunterian Museum, London. It’s an impressive museum based upon John Hunter’s anatomical collection from the 18th century. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, stopping in for a peak is a must!

    What are your current/future projects?

    RAS: Right now I am working on a book that attempts to trace the emergence of science fiction around the middle of the 18th century. Literary historians usually mark Frankenstein as the first of this new breed, but I think we can look at the interesting ways in which, taken together, scientific writing including fictional elements and literary narratives deploying new science and technology opened a historical space for initial experiments with a fictional science.

    DNW: I am currently writing a book with the working title of Sexual Feeling: Sensibility and Generation in Enlightenment Britain. This book explores physiological theories that connected nerves and sex in the long 18th century. A central question in this book is how these theories are expressed in and communicated between literature, philosophy, medicine, science and technology.

    What do you like to read for pleasure?  What are you currently reading?

    RAS: Reading pleasures have always been the stuff I’m currently researching, and right now I am keenly reading 17th- and 18th-century botanical treatises, filled as they are with all manner of cultural baggage. Very exciting to me, and likely boring to others!

    DNW: I generally enjoy picaresque novels, such as Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, or Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. Currently I am preparing for an exhibition I am co-curating at the Osler Library for the History of Medicine by reading medical books from the 16th to 19th century about blood.

    What is your favourite book?

    RAS: Laurence Sterne’s 18th-century novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, and many of the short stories by Charles Bukowski.

    DNW: The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith is one of my all-time comedic favourites.

    If you weren’t working in academia, what would you be doing instead?

    RAS: Playing jazz piano in Vancouver nightclubs.

    DNW: As a postdoctoral fellow with no certain employment in sight, that’s a question I am always asking myself. Probably I’d have a career that’s much less interesting and much better paid. Perhaps I’d still be working on the cucumber farm I grew up on. People need their dill pickles.

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