SFU English students win SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarships

August 08, 2023

We congratulate doctoral students Dana Graham Lai and Kate Moffatt on winning SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarships. Lai will explore constructions of space in fiction, autobiography, and poetry in her project, "Space Matters: Power and Gender in 19th-century Scottish Women's Writing," while Moffatt’s project combines digital humanities mapping tools with hardcore bibliography and is titled, "Mapping Women in the London Book Trades, 1750-1800."

SFU English thanks all the faculty who worked with Lai and Moffatt, especially their respective supervisors, Professors Leith Davis and Michelle Levy.

Learn more about their projects:

Dana Graham Lai’s, "Space Matters: Power and Gender in 19th-century Scottish Women's Writing"

Dana Graham Lai will investigate the relationship between space, place, and gender in the works of Scottish Women Writers from 1789-1850. She believes that whether we look at the past or the present, gender permeates space and is never neutral. As such, how women writers used space and place as narrative strategies is critical in understanding hidden relations of power in the production of space. Dana will examine how Scottish women negotiated relationships of power within the spaces they occupied, including factory, domestic, and natural spaces, as well as conceptual spaces, such as economic, cultural, legal, and medical spaces. Her methodology will involve defining and mapping ideological spaces in the narratives under study. She will combine feminist geographer Doreen Massey’s theories of feminist geography with Michel Foucault’s historical analysis of power and knowledge. What matters in space is rooted in identity, and for women, this means acts of exclusion are intertwined with issues of power and ideology, which also determine how or if women’s space is valued. Her research will consider a range of authorship and genre to illuminate spatial power relations across classes.

Kate Moffatt’s "Mapping Women in the London Book Trades, 1750-1800"

Kate Moffatt takes up women’s (in)visibility in 18th-century book trades. Women’s presence as publishers, printers, and booksellers has long been an open question; large-scale bibliographical projects and resources like the British Book Trade Index have not traditionally accounted for gender, nor allowed users to search by gender, making it difficult to counteract widely accepted narratives about book labour. It is only recently that research and projects by such scholars as Michelle Levy, Helen Smith, Kate Ozment, Cait Coker, Maureen Bell, and Paula McDowell have begun to meaningfully and quantitatively counter the assumption that women were not involved in the production of books by way of the book trades.

Taking inspiration from Smith’s Grossly Material Things (2012) and her work demonstrating how tracing addresses of book trades businesses can reveal trade networks and book districts in the early modern period, this project will map the trade addresses of women publishers, printers, and booksellers in London from 1750 to 1800 to centre women’s embodied labour and their visibility. The accompanying dissertation will take up this idea of “visibility” to ask, in what ways were these women visible, materially and physically, during the period in which they worked? And how might thinking about the ways in which they were visible then help us make them visible now? Mapping their locations and supplementing those findings with archival research will allow us to ground these women in ways that their traces in books and trades records have not. By bringing their physical presence and surroundings into the scholarly conversation about recovery—thinking about the ways in which they were visible during their period beyond the material traces left in the books themselves—this research radically emphasizes their individual and collective visibility outside of existing resources and argues for a reimagining of how we study and conceive of women’s involvement in the book trades to begin with.