Please note this page is currently under construction (October 2017)


The Cultural Studies Ph.D. involves tenured and tenure-track members of Trent University’s Cultural Studies Program. This faculty is innovative in both pedagogy and research, and brings a sense of ongoing invention to the field of cultural studies. Collectively, the core faculty have published 45 books, hundreds of articles in prestigious and cutting-edge journals, and presented hundreds of original papers at scholarly conferences.

Contact information for faculty is found below, including email addresses and home pages where more detailed information about research interests and publications can be found.


Michael Epp

E-Mail: michaelepp@trentu.ca


Current Interests
19th and 20th century American literature and culture; public and political violence; print culture and book history; Irish Republicanism

Current Research Projects
A project investigating the relationship between publics and violence.


Jonathan Bordo

E-Mail: jbordo@trentu.ca

Dr Jonathan M. Bordo, MA, M.Phil, PhD (Yale), is a philosophically trained cultural historian and theorist whose thought is grounded in the philosophical, scientific, religious and aesthetic culture of early modernity (1450 – 1710) cv link. His continuing work bridges his interests between picturing, testimony and institutions of memory. He is also one of the leading scholars in the interdisciplinary study of landscape. Dr Bordo has received many grants and held many fellowships including at present a Trent Research Fellowship, having been a Research Fellow at many distinguished Institutes and Centres most recently at the John Carter Brown Library. JCB poster

Jonathan Bordo’s research and publications have been on the cutting edge for some years. (recent work). His writings have been published widely in international and national journals and collections that include: . “The Homer of Potsdamerplatz – Walter Benjamin in Wim Wender’s Sky over Berlin/Wings of Desire, a Critical Topography” in Images (Brill Amsterdam, 2008) (link)

Jonathan Bordo’s scholarly research has two orientations -- a geopoetics and a critical inventory of and meta reflection on theory itself. The geo-poetics is entwined with the study of art, film and visual culture and it has led to his articulation of an approach that he refers to as “critical topography. ”  At the same time Bordo persists with the question, what is theory? in order to interrogate the unstable middle station  of theory between philosophy and cultural history.  For Bordo, theory is a kind of cultural analysis that advances in part by checking tendencies of inexorable textual repetition and unmitigated speculation through lexico-philological work, critical inventory of concepts and case studies – Bordo’s gloss on Kant’s dictum:  concepts without objects are empty, objects without concepts are blind.  His current doctoral seminars are a contribution to a reflection on theory, in the formation of early 20th century cultural inquiry with special attention to the works of Freud, de Saussure & Benjamin. The Specular Witness, a collection of published and new essays, also nearing completion, gives attention to the very character of theory as a kind of testimony. Bordo’s two orientations are reflected in the projects and the approaches of the doctoral students with whom he is engaged: Forensic determinations of evidence and cultural memory in the matter of mass deaths (Cyr), Bataille and the Collège de Sociologie (Bell), Theories of social ontology of 'late capitalism' as a critical examination of autopoiesis and theory (Timms), Studies in the critical topography of famine and the Irish diaspora (Dunne).

Jonathan Bordo is the founding director of the Canadian Centre for the Study of Landscape, Art and Critical Topography (link).  


Faculty Members

Victoria de Zwaan

E-Mail: vdezwaan@trentu.ca

Victoria de Zwaan has been involved with Cultural Studies at Trent since she took some of the Department's first courses while pursuing her BA in philosophy and English. After studying literary and cultural theory for her MA at McGill, she pursued a PhD in English literature at the University of Toronto on the subject of American experimentalism.

Her dissertation research was published in book form as Interpreting Radical Metaphor in the Experimental Fictions of Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon, and Kathy Acker. In both her teaching and her current research into international experimental texts, she is always looking for the cutting edge at the interface of theory and fiction.

She is currently working on a series of comparative literary essays on such writers as Franz Kafka, Milan Kundera, Christa Wolf, Italo Calvino, Milorad Pavic, Christine Brooke-Rose, and Salman Rushdie.

Finis Dunaway

Finis Dunaway holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University. His research interests include modern US cultural and environmental history; American Studies; visual culture; and the environmental humanities. He is the author of Natural Visions: The Power of Images in American Environmental Reform (University ofChicago Press, 2005), and, most recently, of Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images (University of Chicago Press, 2015).  In addition, his articles have appeared in American Quarterly, Environmental History, Raritan, and other journals, and in anthologies on such topics as the history of landscape photography, ecocritical approaches to art history, climate change, and American environmental history.

David Holdsworth

Email: dholdsworth@trentu.ca

Current interests:  Observation and representation in physical theory; valuation and interpretation of mathematics; the (algebraic) topos as site of theory; political discourses and cultural organization of scientific community; interdisciplinary and professional practice within post-modern culture; environmentalism as a moral discourse.

Publications include ‘Becoming Interdisciplinary: Making Sense of DeLanda's Reading of Deleuze”, Paragraph, forthcoming (2006); ‘Transformational Economics and the Public Good’, in Bernard Hodgson (ed.), The Invisible Hand and the Common Good, Springer Verlag (2004); ‘Science, Politics and Science Policy in Canada: Steps towards a Renewed Critical Inquiry,’ Journal of Canadian Studies (2003); ‘Regulating Professional Practice in Canada: Misguided Steps away from Reflexive Modernity,’ Bridging Minds and Markets, 6th Internaltional auDes Conference; 'Science, Technology, and Discourse: Comments on "Textual Analysis in Technology Research', Technology Review (1996); 'Institutions for a Sustainable Civilization: Negotiating Change in a Technological Culture', Proceedings of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (1995); 'Evaluating Environmental Policy: National Contexts and Normative Planning', Proceedings, UNESCO Seminar on the Environment (1993); 'Universality and Rationality: Transdisciplinary Methods and Methodological Pluralism', Proceedings of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (1993); 'Risk Assessment and National Standards: Philosophical Problems' in J. Bonin and D. Stevenson (editors), Risk Assessment in Setting National Priorities (Plenum, 1989); 'Critical Survey of Quantum Logic', Scientia (1983).

Veronica Hollinger

E-Mail: vhollinger@trentu.ca

Veronica Hollinger received her BA from Marianopolis College in Montreal, and then went on to Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK) for a Masters in Education. She completed the MA and PhD at Concordia University .

Her background in theatre arts has influenced her work on postmodern theatre and on theories of performance and spectacle. These interests have also helped to shape her research and writing in the areas of literary science fiction and speculative fiction. She is especially interested in the theoretical and imaginative constructions of hybrid and artificial subjects in technoculture, and in how such theories and fictions are influencing current developments in artificial intelligence and robotics.

As co-editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies, past vice-president of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and author of many articles, she has an international reputation in the field of science fiction studies. Her work has focused in particular on feminist and cyberpunk science fiction, as well as on the theoretical implications of postmodernism and posthumanism for science fiction as a popular genre. She is the co-editor of five scholarly collections: On Philip K. Dick: 40 Articles from Science Fiction Studies (SF-TH, 1992); Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture (U of Pennsylvania P, 1997); Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (U of Pennsylvania P, 2002); Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction (Liverpool UP, 2008), and Parabolas of Science Fiction (Wesleyan UP, 2013).

With her co-editors at Science Fiction Studies, she completed The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (Wesleyan UP, 2010), an extensive collection of short stories designed for use in university and college science fiction courses.

Veronica Hollinger is a past chair of the Cultural Studies Program and past Director of Trent's MA Program in Theory, Culture and Politics.


Recent Publications

Ihor Junyk

E-Mail: ihorjunyk@trentu.ca

Ihor Junyk has a BA from the University of Western Ontario, an MA from Queen's University, and a PhD from the University of Chicago. He is also an alumnus of the Humber School for Writers where he worked with two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey. He comes to Trent from Cornell University.

His research interests include modernism and the avant-garde; classicism and myth; opera; trauma, memory, and history; and the contemporary novel.

His work has appeared in such publications as the Journal of Modern History, the Chicago Review, Arts and Letters Daily, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a study of modernist classicism in interwar Paris and a novel, tentatively titled The Portrait.

Check out:  http://trentu.academia.edu/IhorJunyk

Liam Mitchell

Liam Mitchell is the Chair of the Department of Cultural Studies and the Coordinator of Media Studies.  His work theorizes the relationship between media, culture, and the political by paying close attention to particular technological artifacts, practices, and phenomena, particularly those objects associated with new or digital media.  In doing so, it shows how digital media both drive and describe the order of things.


His previous work took this approach to social media including Facebook, Reddit, and 4chan.  His current work concerns games.  Videogames can provide substantial insight into both the digital and the ludic aspects of the contemporary world: they are an indirect means by which phenomena as disparate as ubiquitous surveillance, big data, drones, nanotechnology, traffic signals, high-frequency trading, and actuarial science can be understood, since phenomena like these function algorithmically, i.e. according to some set of rules and proceeding towards some objective.  If the world is quantifiable, then videogames, which take digitality as their foundation, offer a way to understand something unique about contemporary cultural conditions.  And if the world is not quantifiable, then our infatuation with games tells us something else.  Some of this work has been published already, and more of it will appear in a 2018 manuscript for Zero Books called Ludopolitics: Videogames against Control.


Mitchell has supervised theses on social media surveillance practices, interpretive strategies in videogames, cyberflânerie, digital subjectivity, ludic fiction, attention, and misogyny in gaming communities.


Alan O'Connor

E-Mail: aoconnor@trentu.ca

Alan O'Connor holds a degree in Sociology from Trinity College, Dublin, studied at York for his MA and PhD, and taught at Simon Fraser before coming to Trent. His research field is popular culture and media.

He has a particular interest in alternative community media and how they become the means for the expression of group and subcultural identities. This interest, which represents the expansion of cultural studies to a global context, takes him from Toronto, where he founded the countercultural café Who's Emma? to Central and South America where he has participated in community political action.

Alan O'Connor's new book on Punk Record Labels and the Struggle for Autonomy is now available through Lexington Books. He is also author of The Voice of the Mountains: Radio and Anthropology (2006), Raymond Williams - Key Thinkers in Critical Media Studies (2005), and editor and translator of Community Radio in Bolivia: The Miner's Radio Stations (2004).

His current research, with Ian Mclachlan, is a book on the underground arts scene in Peterborough since 1970. This research is influenced by Pierre Bourdieu's sociology of cultural fields, and documents the extraordinary richness of community theatre, art and music in this small city.  With start-up funding from the Symons Foundation, and a major research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the research is focusing on The Union (1989-1996), a collectively-run space in downtown Peterborough for community theatre, and part of the underground touring circuit for hardcore punk bands in the 1990's.

Check out: http://alanoconnor.wordpress.com/

Alan O'Connor is on sabbatical 2013-14

James Penney


B.A., M.A. (Alberta) Ph.D. (Duke)
Associate Professor of Cultural Studies
Graduate Faculty: M.A. Theory, Culture and Politics, Ph.D. Cultural Studies


Traill College Scott House 205, ext 6075, jamespenney@trentu.ca

James Penney is a psychoanalytic cultural theorist who engages with literature, film, and philosophy in the view of generating fresh insights about the complex entanglements of subjectivity, sexuality, culture, history and politics. With a background in Comparative Literature and Film Studies from the University of Alberta (BA, MA), he earned his PhD in the year 2000 from the Graduate Program in Literature at Duke University, where he specialized in French literature (early modern and 20th century) and 20th century Francophone literatures, as well as critical theory, in particular with respect to its relationship to the Freudian, Lacanian, and Marxist traditions.

He is the author of three books: After Queer Theory: The Limits of Sexual Politics (Pluto Press, 2014), The Structures of Love: Art and Politics beyond the Transference (SUNY Press, 2012), and The World of Perversion: Psychoanalysis and the Impossible Absolute of Desire (SUNY Press, 2006). His work has appeared in the journals Parallax, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, New Formations, Communication Theory, Diacritics, Angelaki, Paragraph, Umbra, and Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. He is also a contributor to The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), A Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory (Wiley, 2017), The Žižek Dictionary (Acumen, 2014), and The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (Johns Hopkins UP, 2005). He is a co-founder of the Canadian Network for Psychoanalysis and Culture (CNPC).

He works with graduate students in the following areas: psychoanalytic, Marxist, and postcolonial cultural theories; comparative world literature and film; feminist, gender, and sexuality theories; and contemporary European philosophy, especially Žižek and Badiou.

Current interests
The politics of the transference in psychoanalysis; Marxist alternatives in queer theory; Frantz Fanon, Jean Genet, Chantal Akerman, and Lucian Freud.

The World of Perversion: Psychoanalysis and the Impossible Absolute of Desire (Albany: SUNY Press, 2006)
“The Schizoanalytic Protest: Homosexual Desire Revisited,” Angelaki (April 2004)
“Passing into the Universal: Fanon, Sartre and the Colonial Dialectic,” Paragraph 27.3 (2004)
“(Queer) Theory and the Global Alternative,” Diacritics 32.1 (2004)
“Confessions of a Medieval Sodomite,” Perversion and the Social Relation, Eds. Molly Rothenberg, Dennis Foster, and Slavoj Zizek, Duke UP, 2003
“The Sameness of Sexual Difference and the Difference of Same-Sex Desire, ” Umbra: A Journal of the Unconscious, Summer 2002; “Beyond Atè: Lacan, Ethics, and the Real,” Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society 7.1 (2002)
“The Tragic Subject: Pascal and the Mystery of the Transmission of Sin.” Paragraph 24.1 (2001)
“Uncanny Strangers: Does the Subaltern Speak through Julia Kristeva?” The Psychoanalysis of Race. Ed. Christopher Lane. New York: Columbia U P, 1998, 120-138.


Check out: http://jamespenney.weebly.com

Edward Tilson


Adjunct Program Member

Edward Tilson completed his licence coursework at the University of Franche-Comté before receiving undergraduate degrees from the Universities of Toronto (B. A.) and Carleton (B. A. hon.). He completed an M. A. at the universities of Carleton and Ottawa before pursuing doctoral studies at the universities of McGill and Geneva along the way to completing graduate degrees (M. A., M. Phil., Ph. D.) at Yale University.

His research centers on differences between humanist and (anti)rationalist accounts of modernity. Interests include Montaigne’s Essais; Erôs and epistêmê in Ronsard and Rabelais; the classicism of the generation of 1660; and philosophical paradox and narrative structure in Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau.

His work with graduate students has focused on semiology and ontology in texts and intertexts from Augustine to Proust; on re-readings within Renaissance works and in their critical reception; and on various aspects of Enlightenment literature. He has developed doctoral seminars on historical humanism to the end of the 19thC and its 20thC critiques, and on the strategies and goals of historical narrative within divergent interpretations of modernity. He has also worked with students on Old French literature and medieval subjectivity.

He edited Les Interférences des écoles de pensée antiques dans la littérature de la Renaissance for Garnier, Paris (“Perspectives humanistes” no 6, 2013).

Recent book chapters and articles include:

  • “La raison et les affects dans La Theologie naturelle de Raymond Sebon, traduicte nouvellement en français par messire Michel, Seigneur de Montaigne”, Montaigne Studies (forthcoming, Winter 2018)
  • “Cynic Charity and Christian Satire: Blending Genres and Programming Readings in the ‘Author’s Prologue’ to Rabelais’s Tiers Livre”, Yale French Studies (forthcoming, Winter 2018)
  • “‘Desinit in piscem’ : discours hybrides chez Lucrèce, Horace et Montaigne”, in A. Ben Farhat and M. Trabelsi (ed.), La question de l’hybride, Sfax, Nouha, 2014, p. 47-73
  • “‘Nous ne nous pouvons arracher de la vie par discours’ : épicurisme, théologie et scepticisme dans l’‘Apologie de Raimond Sebond’”, in Les Interférences, q.v., p. 129-156
  • “‘La forme demeure, et la matière se perd’ : transformations du De rerum natura chez Ronsard”, in F. Lestringant and E. Naya (ed.), La renaissance de Lucrèce, Cahiers Saulnier no 27, Paris, University of Paris-Sorbonne Press, 2010, p. 201-222
  • “L’apologie de Socrate dans l’essai II, 12 de Montaigne”, in T. Gontier and S. Mayer (ed.), Le socratisme de Montaigne, Paris, Garnier, 2010, p. 137-153
  • “Le discours sauvage : cannibalisme et autres rites barbares dans les Essais de Montaigne” Montaigne Studies, vol. 23, no 1-2, 2010, p. 137-157.