Cultural studies

Graduate Student Profile: Sheena Jary, Department of English and Cultural Studies

Name: Sheena Jary

Department: English and Cultural Studies

Supervisor: Dr. Mary Silcox

Tell me a bit about your research

My thesis deals with how the creation of space, or the cultural production of space through literature, functions in the creation of social structure in seventeenth-century England.

I focus on the non-fiction prose of Margaret Cavendish, Thomas Traherne and Gerrard Winstanley, the latter a pre-modern communist whose work was instrumental in the development of Marxism.

My project fits into the broader context of spatial reform, in particular the rise of Euclidean geometry and homogeneous space. While early modern philosophers generally believed that space is homogeneous, I argue that the authors I focus on use idealized geometric space and structure it to control, guide, or influence how social beings relate to one another. to others and to the state, and in doing so make the social space heterogeneous.

I am particularly interested in how these authors reveal their unique perspectives on social responsibility, agency, and self-preservation, causing readers to question the pros and cons of the authors’ presentations on “social cohesion”. “.

What initially inspired you to get started in your field? What inspires you now?

I honestly think that what particularly attracted me to 17th century literature was the “shock value” of non-fiction texts. What intrigues me is Why people believed and enjoyed things that today we find so shocking – and frankly, offensive or even violent.

I sometimes wonder if scholars in different fields of study see modern-day scholarship as passively supporting inequality and discrimination, but in my experience, that is not the case. I find tremendous value in uncovering the root cause of historical ideologies – like colonialism; I think that by understanding the disturbing thought patterns of pre-modern Western societies, I am in a better position to understand how we came to our current state of existence.

My honors thesis was on 20th century modernism, while my master’s thesis was on fin-de-siècle France and Victorian England. I had so many unanswered questions about how certain beliefs and practices were established, so it made sense to go back even further to the early modern period – and that’s where I found the answers to my Questions.

Who have been major influences in your life?

There are too many people to discuss here, so I’ll limit things to my time at McMaster. I’ve met some great people at Mac.

Mary Silcox was everything I could have asked of a supervisor; she helped me grow as an academic and helped me stay motivated, even when I felt discouraged. I had a great visit to campus before accepting my offer to McMaster, and Mary’s parting words were, “You’re so weird!” I really value honesty and authenticity, so I chose to work with Mary.

Cathy Grisé has become a trusted colleague and someone who shares my passion for new approaches to teaching and learning. We actually presented a panel together on “transgressive” pedagogy at the Northeast Modern Languages ​​Association in Boston just before the pandemic.

Also, Lorraine Carter, the director of McMaster Continuing Education, has been such a big part of my professional development. She’s a great mentor, and we originally connected over our interest in writing. With the support of Lorraine, I was able to design the course content for the academic certificate in writing for continuing education.

And of course Alpha Abebe has been wonderfully influential. We connected on our unique approaches to leadership. We have always been on the same page when it comes to our approach to teaching and our understanding of what leadership can be at McMaster.

Tell me a little about you

I grew up in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. I played football for a number of years and of course the year my team achieved gold status I tore the anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage in my knee. I had surgery when I was 15, but without success. That was over half a life ago and I still can’t run! I lost quite a bit of motivation by then and didn’t end up attending college until well into my twenties.

I completed my undergraduate studies at Simon Fraser University and graduated with an honors degree from the Department of English. I think the moment I realized I wanted to go to graduate school was in a third-year rhetoric class. The professor gave us an image on which to conduct a rhetorical analysis of the attire of an “unnamed” Republican presidential candidate; he wore (awkwardly) worn-out blue jeans with a pressed blouse for his gathering in the Midwest, so there was plenty to discuss. His attempt to fit in really made him stand out.

You told me a bit about running a McDonald’s before you started graduate school. Can you share how it influenced you? What lessons have you learned?

It’s not something I usually share, but let’s talk about it! By the time I graduated from high school, I was a junior manager. After high school, I was promoted and continued to train at regional headquarters.

In academia, I have noted the fact that this lived experience is often seen as devoid of merit – and that is an unfortunate assumption. Did I learn to make burgers? Sure. Can I tell you how many pickles go on each burger? Indeed, I can.

But the training I received going up the ranks is transferable. I learned how to manage an income statement (profit and loss), which gave me insight into the decision-making practices that take place behind the scenes. Managing a meeting budget and forecast also meant that I had to communicate with my employees, managers, and “the team” because if they didn’t follow procedures, my budget would fail. I learned to give people a reason to want to be “on my team” and work towards a common goal. I was also trained on systems management including inventory and ordering, scheduling, safety and security, hiring and performance reviews, and training and development.

I spent the most time on training and development, which is not surprising given my love for teaching. in fact, I now approach teaching from a “coaching” perspective, and it’s a skill I developed at McDonald’s. The leadership skills and knowledge I learned at McDonald’s have shaped how I manage my time, work under stress, work in teams and build lasting relationships. In fact, I’m still talking to my first operational consultant to this day!

Knowledge translation is a choice. Instead of seeing that experience as irrelevant to what I do now, I see it as a foundation on which I continue to succeed today.

What do you like to do when you’re not at school?

I was a horrible plant owner – even my cacti died, which is almost an achievement considering they’re so hardy.

A few years ago I decided to buy some plants and see how it goes. I have over 40 plants now, many of which are taller than me. What I ended up doing was using lights to grow my plants because my apartment is under an overhang and doesn’t get much light. It’s like a jungle here now!

One of my vines – which was about 4 inches when I bought it – has grown all the way to the ceiling and has additional vines growing left and right. The downside, however, is that I just adopted a cat (Pufendorf) and she attacks and/or eats them. I’m still trying to figure out how to handle this!

If you could meet and chat with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would choose American politician Stacey Abrams, who is alive and well. She is such a bold leader who does not hesitate to speak out against other politicians for racism, sexism, homophobia or any form of discrimination.

His first book, Minority Leader, shares some of the founding moments of his life. She describes a notable event in which she was racially discriminated against when she was invited to the Governor’s Mansion as her school’s valedictorian. So she set herself the goal of becoming the kind of political leader who makes people feel included – someone who creates space for individuals seeking equity. be heard.

What I appreciate so much about Abrams is that she knows why she fights every day, and that’s what keeps her going even when she faces setbacks.