Michelle Meagher, PhD, MA, BA
I hold a BA in Women's Studies (University of Alberta), an MA in Interdisciplinary Humanities on the Body and Representation (University of Reading, UK), and a PhD in Cultural Studies from George Mason University, Virginia, USA. Upon graduating from GMU in 2005, I taught in the departments of Women's Studies and Cultural Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario for two years. In 2007, I returned to my home town to take up a position of Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the U of A. When I'm not teaching or advising students, I'm in my garden or dreaming about it.
My research focuses on feminist art and feminist art history with particular emphasis on the late twentieth century North American context. In 2023, I will complete a revised version of an article about Art and Ageing for the Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology. Also in a 2023 planned administrative leave, I plan to explore representations of time in feminist art, beginning with a scholarly article on the Canadian artist Suzy Lake.
With Tessa Jordan, I co-edited a special issue of American Periodicals in Fall 2018 on the topic of feminist publishing. My current research project draws on digital humanities methods to understand and analyse feminist publishing networks. Supported by a SSHRC IDG grant, AdArchive is a collaborative research project that explores innovative digital humanities methods to better understand and represent feminist publication networks in the late 1970s. Members of the AdArchive team in 2022-23 are Timothy Arthur, Erin Sanderman, Tegan Nelson, and co-PI Jana Smith Elford of Medicine Hat College.
I have further research interests in body studies; feminist cultural studies; ageing and art; feminist generational politics; and the feminist seventies.
Some of the courses that I am regularly scheduled to teach are:
- WGS 101: Representations of Girls and Women
- WGS 220: Feminism and Popular Culture
- WGS 301: History of Feminist Thought
Recent fourth year and graduate seminars include:
- Writing Social Change (Feminist Print Culture Studies)
- Art and Feminism: Theory, Practice, Politics
- Body Politics
In recent years, I've supervised undergraduate reading courses and honors theses on feminist crip studies and histories of feminisms of color.
GSJ 506:Feminist Cultural Studies: "Making Feminist Media." In this class, we consider the politics and practices of feminist cultural production with an emphasis on feminist print culture and publishing. Beginning with an examination of turn-of-the-century suffrage publications like the WSPU’s Votes for Women, and turning to the late 1960s to early 1970s rise of the "women in print" movement in North America, which was marked by an explosion of feminist publications (Spare Rib, Heresies) and publishers (Virago Press), this course will consider the often complex role that print culture played and continues to play in developing as well as publicizing feminist activisms and actions. Insofar as the class is shaped by the framework of feminist cultural studies, our emphasis will be on examining how texts are produced, circulated, and consumed in both material and digital contexts. Key questions include: How does feminist publishing produce feminist communities and/or feminist counterpublics? What role have feminist publishing practices - and the recent emergence of feminist print culture studies - played in the (re)narration of feminist histories? How have older circuits that relied on bookstores, marks on paper, woman-only print shops, feminist-friendly distributors, and world-of-mouth been replaced or displaced by virtual circuits?
GSJ 598 and WGS 498 titled "Art, Activism, and Social Justice." The central goal of this class is to understand the ways that social justice movements affiliated with recent North American feminisms have used art to imagine new futures, to critique and challenge existing socio-political systems, and to transform the public sphere. Main topics that we cover include: Feminist Art, Art in Public, Feminist Art Education, Institutional Critique, Art & Obscenity, Art & Environmentalism, Digital Feminisms, Art in Urban Spaces, Fibre Feminism, Feminist Galleries
Historical study of selected feminist writers and activists. Emphasis is on European and North American feminist thought up to the mid twentieth century. Prerequisite: Any 100 or 200 level WGS or W ST course, or departmental consent.
Research - femlab: a feminist exhibition space
For almost a decade, I have worked as a curator and director for a small gallery space that is hosted and supported by the Department of Women's and Gender Studies. femlab: a feminist exhibition space is a gallery that features a wide range of feminist creative activity. COVID-19 closures have disrupted the gallery's planned exhibitions.femlab gallery website
Research - Visualizing Feminist Networks: Representing Heresies in Linked Open Data
This is a digital humanities project that has as its main goal the identification, description, and representation of advertising images from Heresies in Linked Open Data. Though underexamined in periodical studies, advertisements provide insight into the economic strategies of social movement magazines. They also reveal the extent to which social movement presses, and in particular feminist periodicals, relied upon periodical networks in order to sustain and advance their projects.
The first phase of theisualizing Feminist Networks project was a collaboration with Jana Smith Elford at Medicine Hat College, employs linked data to model, understand, and visualize the social, economic, and artistic networks that supported the success of Heresies, an important second wave feminist journal. The project wass generously supported by the KIAS CRAfT Digital Research Archives grant, which enabled us to work with the University of Alberta Libraries (especially the Digital Initiatives Unit) and the Arts Resource Centre. Scholarly writing on the methods deployed in this project will be published in an upcoming issue of International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing.
Phase two, which began in 2022, is AdArchive: Tracing PreDigital Networked Feminisms. With Dr. Smith Elford and a team of graduate and undergraduate researchers, this SSHRC IDG-supported project applies models and methods developed in earlier work to a broader range of feminist periodicals.