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Matea Kulić draws on motherhood for source material
Matea Kulić is the 2020 recipient of the Ewan Clark Memorial Endowment that recognizes and provides financial assistance to an artist, musician, writer or actor enrolled full-time in the Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) program.
Kulić says the award has been a most welcome mid-degree boost, providing her encouragement, recognition and validation for her chosen path.
“The award reminded me why I started the program, that there was that writerly aspect of me that wanted to find expression in an academic mode, and that I was getting support to continue to do that,” she says. “I would say in the pandemic that everything feels like it comes to a halt and you're questioning, OK do I still want to go forward? How is this going to change my plans? Is this what I really signed up for?”
Kulić is half-way through the GLS program and also works full time as an editor for The Capilano Review, a Vancouver-based literary magazine. She’s also a fairly a new mom.
“I was visibly pregnant in the interview with two directors of the program who were parents themselves, and they encouraged me to go forward with the degree program even though I was going to be a mom soon with more responsibilities,” Kulić says.
Kulić was attracted to the GLS program as a way to blend her creative pursuits and intellectual thinking.
“I feel like I've held on to the self that I was before motherhood by getting to have a discussion at least once a week about books and ideas and hear the things my colleagues are passionate about,” she says.
At the same time Kulić is making connections between her life, her career and the themes she’s exploring in her courses.
“I've been thinking about how ideologies of motherhood have changed over time, looking at Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Emile with its instructions to mothers and thinking about how ideals of motherhood have changed,” she says. “Reading those classical texts during the time I was becoming a mother really influenced how I thought about what I was practicing every day."
While initially exploring how ideologies of motherhood have formed over time, her most recent directed reading looks at how mother writers have expressed themselves and why they have tended towards certain genres and not others.
Kulić says she appreciates that GLS students are encouraged to draw on source material from their own lives in their studies. She also appreciates the ability to think broadly and take on more than one topic, for example through the “Two extended essays option” that can take the place of a more traditional thesis.
While exploring motherhood as it relates to her own life, Kulić is concurrently taking courses on “Truth and Reconciliation” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. While these fields of study are disparate, there are connections between how certain kinds of texts produced within Indigenous communities are not always considered “literary” or counted as a “source text” and how writing by “mother writers” is likewise overlooked.
“So how do we bridge these gaps to see the literary merit in something that hasn't been considered literary, that hasn’t been collected as part of the canon?” Kulić looks forward to reading and writing through these questions for at least two more years.