Centre for the Study of Print and Media Cultures
Simon Fraser University





Statement of Purpose

The CSPMC is a multidisciplinary research group at Simon Fraser University.  Its mission is:  

(a) to promote innovative theoretically and historically grounded research;
(b) to develop new modes of critical analysis;
and to support advanced education in the overlapping investigative fields of print culture, media cultures in general, communications technologies, the arts, and the public sphere. 

This interdisciplinary community builds on the foundation established since 1998 by the Print Culture Studies group based in the Department of English.  In addition to offering the first graduate specialization in Print Culture Studies in Canada (now followed by similar initiatives at the University of Toronto and at Carleton University), the group has raised its profile through an annual lecture series.  This series has featured speakers of international renown, including Jerome McGann (University of Virginia), Donna Haraway (University of California, Santa Cruz), Linda Hutcheon (University of Toronto), and W.J.T. Mitchell (University of Chicago); equally importantly, it has brought together researchers from across the Pacific Northwest and across the disciplines at SFU, including English, Contemporary Arts, History, French, Women’s Studies, and Scottish Studies.  The Print Culture Studies group has also been significantly involved in organizing interdisciplinary conferences and in several national and interdisciplinary collaborative research projects (eg. the History of the Book in Canada project; a study of “The Construction of Literary Reputation” involving faculty in Linguistics and English). 

This interdisciplinary nature is now being formalized and expanded with the creation of the CSPMC, which includes scholars in a wide range of humanities, social sciences, and applied sciences departments, schools, and non-departmentalized programs, including Communication, Contemporary Arts, English, History, Humanities, Interactive Arts and Technology, Liberal Studies, Linguistics, Publishing Studies, and Scottish Studies.  The research activities of the CSPMC have the potential for creative synergy with the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, the Institute for the Humanities, the Centre d’études francophones Québec-Pacifique, the Centre for Scottish Studies, and the SFU Library. 

The Centre will facilitate and initiate research collaborations, publications, colloquia, conferences, speaker series, and visiting researchers.  The research culture fostered by the Centre will assist in attracting graduate students, research fellows, and visiting scholars, particularly those seeking to participate in networks that inspire cross-disciplinary methodologies.  The Centre’s ongoing collaborations will produce applications for external funding from SSHRC (e.g. collaborative Standard Research Grants and Strategic Research Cluster grants), and will position it well to act promptly as new grant programs and opportunities arise.  Such funding will, in turn, increase opportunities for research training and funding of graduate students.  Current discussions among CSPMC members, for example, have given rise to the interdisciplinary CTEF proposal “The History, Theory, and Practice of Media Change Laboratory.”  Contribution to SFU Community and Beyond  SFU has recently defined a number of strategic research areas.  One of these areas is “Technology and the Arts”; another is “History, Culture, Social Relations and Behaviour.” 

As a growing international academic movement characterized by links among media specialists, literary scholars, historians of the book, social historians, art historians, bibliographers, and specialists in information studies and humanities computing, the field of Print and Media Studies offers a productive point of contact for researchers working in both of these strategic areas.  The CSPMC will help to spotlight the analytical research activity which is already taking place in this university in the areas of media theory and culture.  By involving a core group of senior and upcoming scholars in humanities departments where researchers have traditionally worked in relative isolation, the Centre will raise the profile of new research clusters and initiatives in some of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ largest departments.  It will also serve to build bridges between the humanities, the social sciences, and the applied sciences.  The SFU library, with its holdings in Special Collections and its ongoing technological innovations, is well positioned to be a central player in these collaborations.  The Centre will thereby position SFU scholars for strategic networking and collaboration with academics from other universities regionally, nationally, and internationally.  Already, members of the Print Culture Studies group have intellectual, administrative, and collegial links to the international Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP), the newly formed Canadian Association for Studies in Book Culture, the Bibliographical Society of Canada, the Centre for the Study of Text, Culture, and History at Carleton University, the graduate program in Book History and Print Culture at the University of Toronto, and the doctoral program in the Production of Literature at Carleton University.  

The profile of the CSPMC, in part through its members representing the Library, Publishing Studies, and Interactive Arts and Technology, will also be an effective tool in reaching out to members of the general public (who will be invited to appropriate events), as well as to media watchers, collectors, publishers, artists, and film-makers.

For more information, contact Betty Schellenberg at schellen at sf.uca.