Our MA and PhD Students
Our graduate students are conducting exciting research in diverse subject areas.
Manfred Becker entered academia through the back door, after working as an independent documentary filmmaker, since immigrating to Canada 30 years ago. Manfred’s area of research grew out of those decades as a media practitioner. The current proliferation of factual entertainment programs and its popularity raises urgent questions about the ethics and responsibilities of its creators towards its subjects and audiences, since there is a perceived deficit of media literacy and – awareness among both. As a programmer for the Rendez Vous with Madness Film Festival, he has addressed the question where the dividing line of entertainment versus social responsibility is situated. You can learn more at DOCToronto – Rendezvous Madness.
However, as a practitioner in the traditional field of documentary Manfred faces similar questions. Please refer to At-home – Ethics of Studying People on the Edge for more information.
Exploring that dilemma will be the focus of his dissertation. Manfred also teaches film at both Ryerson’s Image Arts and York University’s Fine Arts.
Website: Personal Site.
Natalja Chestopalova is a PhD Candidate in Communication and Culture at York University. She holds an MA in Literatures of Modernity from Ryerson University and an Honours Bachelor Degree in English and Political Science from the University of Toronto.
Natalja’s current research is informed by popular culture aesthetics, space/place, and psychoanalysis, and focuses on the transformative experience and multimodality in literature, graphic novel, immersive site-specific performance, and film. Her recent works include a paper on trauma, affect, and plasticity in cinema at the PCA ACA Conference, and a paper on architectural capital in multimodal literature at the ACLA. Natalja’s publications appeared in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism and the White Wall Review.
Burke is a part-time PhD candidate in the department exploring areas of deliberative democracy and the potential for a revitalized public sphere through reform of public and democratic institutions.
He is also interested in the construction of ideology through political discourse and its impact on citizens understanding of our democratic institutions.His Masters dissertation “Mediated Legitimacy: Canada’s 2008 Parliamentary Crisis: A Study of Ideology, Legitimacy and Political Communication” explored this relationship using the 2008 parliamentary crisis in Canada as a case study.
When he is not working on his research, you can find Burke travelling the halls of Queen’s Park where is he currently serving as the Senior Strategic Advisor to the Chief Officer, Diversity & Accessibility. In this role he provides strategic policy and program advice and serves as the liaison with senior decision-makers across the public service, including the Secretary of the Cabinet. Since joining the Ontario Public Service in 2000 he has held a number of senior policy and communication roles in a number of key ministries, including Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Training, Colleges and Universities, Community Safety & Corrections and the Attorney General.
I explore how the material, technical and digital aspects of wearable technologies delineate privacy, and the ways in which these private experiences are contaminated by NSA surveillance practices. My intellectual lineage is mashed together through critical security studies, international political sociology, surveillance studies, materiality studies, sociology of technology and privacy theory.
I’m interested in government and corporate big data and meta data tracking and behavioral profiling techniques, particularly through HTTP cookies and asynchronous syntax. I’m a graduate fellow at the York Centre for International and Security Studies, and weekly radio discussant on surveillance, technology and privacy issues on 1290 CJBK.
Vanessa Del Carpio
Vanessa Del Carpio is a second-year MA candidate in the Communication and Culture Joint Graduate Program at York and Ryerson universities. She has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies (major) and Business (minor) from York University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and on the Dean’s List.
Her primary research interests are popular culture, feminist theory, and media representations of women; she is also interested in media studies, research methodologies and cultural labour. Vanessa is currently working on her master’s research, which explores gender in image-based representations of women in popular media, using the theoretical frameworks of practice-based research, feminist theory and visual culture.
Professionally, Vanessa has worked and written for Excalibur, York’s newspaper, for three years, most recently as Recruitment Manager. In the summer of 2014 she completed two internships, one at the Toronto Arts Foundation (Research Department) and the other at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Publishing Department).
Select Awards and Honours
- SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master’s Scholarship, 2014
- Ontario Graduate Scholarship, 2014 (declined), 2013
- York Graduate Scholarship, 2013
- Dean’s Circle of Student Scholars (Faculty of Liberal and Professional Arts, York University), 2012-13
- George Hopton Award, 2012
- York University Continuing Student Scholarship, 2011
- Del Carpio, Vanessa. “Dreams of Today: Analyzing the American Dream on Film in the Context of Contemporary America.” Impression 2.2 (2014). Print.
- Del Carpio, Vanessa. “Mapping Labour in the Creative Industries.” Impression 1.1 (2013). Print.
- Annual Meeting – Canadian Communication Association, May 2014
- Rethinking Cultural Policy in a Globalized World – York Centre for Public Policy & Law (Keynote), April 2014
- Department of Modern Languages & Literatures Graduate Conference – University of Western Ontario, March 2014
Lai-Tze Fan is a PhD Candidate (ABD). Her research examines the effects of a digital cultural logic and digital textuality on contemporary literature, with a focus on print literature. Fan is dedicated to issues relating to student advocacy and research on the future of literature and the humanities.
She has served as President, PhD Rep. to the Executive Committee, and PhD Internal Rep. of the ComCult Graduate Students Association. From 2013-2014, she served as President of the Graduate Student Caucus of ACCUTE (English association of Canada). She is a peer-review reader for UAlberta’s Inquire: Journal of Comparative Literature, and is the founder of the York/Ryerson Intermediality Working Group, which is invested in theories and methodologies of Comparative Media. Fan is a research member of York University’s Centre for Research on Language Contact, Ryerson University’s Modern Literature & Culture Research Centre, and Ryerson’s Centre for Digital Humanities. In each of these centres, she is involved in the critical and creative digital humanities.
Monique Tschofen, Caitlin Fisher, Markus Reisenleitner
Select Awards and Honours
- 2014 — Short list, Fulbright Traditional Student Award
- 2013 — Long list, Horst Frenz Best Graduate Student Paper Prize, ACLA
- 2012 — Short list, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC)
- 2011 — Graduate Caucus Award, NeMLA
- 2011, 2013, 2014 — Ontario Graduate Scholarship
- Forthcoming. Conference proceedings: Fan, Lai-Tze. “Converging Media and Modes: Digital Textuality and the Dissolution of Media Borders in Post-Print Literature.” Proceedings for the 2013 “Reconsidering Convergence” Transatlantic Conference, University of Göttingen. Gottingen University Press. Print.
- Forthcoming. Article. Fan, Lai-Tze. “On the Creative Destruction and Residue of the Humanities.” English Studies in Canada 40.2-3 (2014). Print.
- Article: Fan, Lai-Tze. “Toronto Stories.” World Film Locations: Toronto. Ed. Tom Ue. Bristol; Chicago: Intellect; University of Chicago Press, 2014. Print.
- Article: Fan, Lai-Tze. “Moving through the Narrative: Spatial Form Theory and the Space of Electronic Literature.” The Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media. Special issue on “Digital Cartography: Screening Space.” Vol. 21 (2012). Web.
- Article: Fan, Lai-Tze. “Formula and ‘Fixity’ in South Slavic Oral Epics: A defense of South Slavic poetic verse against literary accusations of mechanicalism.” TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies 1.4 (2011): 47-62. Web.
John Fernandez is a MA candidate in the Communication & Culture program at York & Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. His research is specialized in the politics and policy stream, with a particular interest in copyright law, music business and popular music studies (hip-hop culture).
His research is primarily concerned with the intersection of legal, commercial and creative structures shaping the contemporary field of popular music, including the production, distribution and reception of music. His previous research has covered a range of issues from the application of fair use provisions on hip-hop mixtapes to CRTC regulations and Canadian media ownership concentration. Beyond the academic field, John has gained valuable experience working at Canadian radio stations, record labels and regulatory organizations.
John is currently completing a Master’s Research Paper on the topic of performance rights for sound recordings in American copyright law under the supervisor of Dr. Rosemary J Coombe.
Presented research paper ‘The South Got Something to Say’…But That’s Not All I’m Gonna Say: An Exploration into the Regional Dichotomy of American Hip-Hop Culture ‘ at the 2013 PCA/ACA National Conference (Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association) in Washington, DC from March 27-30.
James Forbes is a PhD candidate in Communication and Culture at York University. His research is primarily in materialist readings in the philosophy and history of technology. His current interests include mobility and the medium, media archaeology, and machine ontology as portrayed in the literature and film of science fiction.
His dissertation research investigates 19th century Canadian industrialism from a discursive and material perspective in order to illuminate Darwinian notions of “progress” and technological determinism. He holds a B.A. from McGill (Communications and Anthropology), a B.A. Honours from Concordia (Philosophy), and a M.A. from Ryerson and York (Communications and Culture). His most recent publication (forthcoming in the anthology We Need to Talk About Family) is on eschatology in far-right representations of the family, and he will be presenting a paper titled Television as Oracle: Greek Epigraphy from Dodona and the Modern Soap Opera at NEPCA (Providence, RI) in the fall of 2014.
Ximena Griscti is a PhD Candidate (ABD) in Communication and Culture at York University. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto and a BA Honours in Spanish Literature and Society from Concordia University. Ximena’s academic interests revolve around the fields of critical theory, cultural studies, media studies, and urban culture. She is currently writing her dissertation, which explores the text-based graffiti that emerged in post-dictatorial Uruguay as a form of grassroots mass media.
“Outlaw Mass Media and Democratization: The Role of Graffiti in Uruguay’s Democratic Transition”
Steve Bailey (Supervisor), Kevin Dowler, Colin Mooers
Awards and Scholarships
- Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Doctoral, 2014
- SSHRC CGS Doctoral Scholarship, 2010-2013
- SSHRC Master’s Scholarship, 2009
Abigail Henry is a second year MA student in the Communication and Culture program. She holds a B.A with First Class Honours in Media & Communication and Literatures in English from the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.
Abigail’s research interests include international cultural policy, cultural heritage management, Caribbean studies, and international development. Under the supervision of Prof. Rosemary Coombe, her thesis explores the potential of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other digital technologies for the development of sustainable cultural heritage management practices and policies in the Caribbean.
Abigail’s professional background is in video and media production, as well as magazine publishing.
Steve Jankowski is a PhD candidate Communication and Culture at York University. He holds an MA in Communication from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Design from the York / Sheridan Design Program. Steve’s current research interests include critical theory, digital epistemologies and new media aesthetics. More specifically he is exploring how the affordances of media have influenced the creation, dissemination, circulation and experience of knowledge.
Andrea Kosavic is a PhD candidate in Communication and Culture at York University. She holds a Master of Information Studies (MISt) in Information Systems from the University of Toronto, and a BSc in Biology from the University of Toronto.
Her work in the field of scholarly publishing in her capacity as Digital Initiatives Librarian at York University prompted her interest in pursuing an in-depth exploration of disciplinary cultures. Her PhD work will focus on scholars in the humanities and the means by which they work towards establishing a scholarly reputation. She is particularly interested in the factors that affect a faculty member’s choice of publication vehicle, and the role publication prestige has in dialogue with variables including peer review, tenure and promotion requirements, status of university, and the idiosyncrasies of discrete disciplines and university departments.
Christian Martius is a PhD Candidate in Communication & Culture at York University. His research is on the contemporary construction and maintenance of the so-called normal and abnormal body. This research calls attention to problematic communication practices, which privilege consistent social and cultural ideas of embodied normalcy rather than the commonplace inconsistencies of the human body. Recent work on the visual rhetoric of bodily difference has been presented at The Bodies in Between Conference in Romania. He has also written on the agency of the abject body for The Doris McCarty Gallery and the SPT Strategies of Critique Conference.
Sara Martel is a PhD candidate. Her dissertation focuses on the use of photography as part of bereavement support practices in healthcare settings. More specifically, she is carrying out a qualitative study through a paediatric hospital in Toronto, interviewing parents about their experience with photography around the death of their newborn in neonatal care. Her doctoral committee includes Dr. Stuart J. Murray (supervisor), Steven Bailey, and Deborah Davidson. Sara received the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
- “Materializing Visual Culture in Communication Studies” in The Communication Review (2012).
- “Biopower and Reproductive Loss: Speaking Risk, Silencing Death-in-Birth.”
Cait McKinney is a PhD candidate in the Communication and Culture Program at York University. Her dissertation research traces a cultural history of the Internet through lesbian feminist information activism, beginning in the early 1970s. Cait’s writing has appeared in TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Shift: Graduate Journal of Visual Culture, No More Potlucks and is forthcoming in the Radical History Review’s special issue on queer archives.
Christian Oquendo Sanchez
Christian has a BA in Anthropology (PUCE-Ecuador), MA and PhD candidate in Communication and Culture, York University. My interest in communication theory grew out of British Cultural Studies and their perspectives on active audiences, while doing my undergraduate studies in Urban Anthropology.
My MA fieldwork brought me to Oaxaca, Mexico, where I conducted research on the public debate around genetically modified corn. My current research focuses on the new Communication Law in Ecuador, as well as broader debates within communication theory in Latin America. I am also involved with the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios, which specializes in freedom of speech, digital rights and journalism standards. During my PhD, I have continued to work as a journalist for a newspaper and a radio station in Ecuador, and am a regular contributor to a number of applied projects in communication, both in Latin America and Canada.
Katrina Orlowski is a Masters candidate in the Communication and Culture program at York University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film from Simon Fraser University. She is interested in arts-based research, and is currently focused on the impact on memory and narrative when places of personal or cultural significance are destroyed. More broadly, Orlowski’s research interests are documentary and avant-garde cinema, social movements, the Internet, and new media.
Felan Parker (CA) is a PhD candidate (ABD) in Communication & Culture at York University in Toronto, specializing in digital game studies and cinema and media studies. He holds an MA and BA Hon. in Film Studies from Carleton University. His dissertation examines the cultural legitimation of digital games as art in a variety of different contexts, and other research interests include transmedia franchises, genre, authorship, paratexts, and canon formation.
“Playing Games With Art: The Cultural and Aesthetic Legitimation of Digital Games”
Jennifer Jenson (supervisor), Kevin Dowler, Michael Zryd
Awards and Scholarships
- Susan Mann Dissertation Scholarship, 2013-2014
- SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, 2011-2013
- Ioan Davies Memorial Award, 2010
- Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Doctoral, 2009-2011
- “Indie Game Studies Year Eleven,” in Defragging Game Studies Conference Proceedings, Digital Games Research Association, 2013
- “Millions of Voices: Star Wars, Digital Games, Fictional Worlds and Franchise Canon,” in Game On, Hollywood! Essays on the Intersection of Video Games and Cinema, ed. Gretchen Papazian and Joseph Michael Summers, McFarland, 2013
- “An Artworld for Artgames,” in Loading… Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association, Vol. 7, No. 11, 2013
- “Play By Play: Audio Commentary in Digital Games,” in Technology and Emerging Media 2012 Proceedings, Canadian Communication Associaion, 2013 http://www.tem.fl.ulaval.ca/en/waterloo-2012/
Jason Peng is a second year MA student. He holds a BSc in Psychology and Economics from the University of Toronto. His major research paper focuses on the historical analysis of the mutual construction of clock-time and capitalism. More specifically, he is exploring the cultural concept of time as a commodity resource that holds pecuniary value, examining the contemporary maxim that ‘time is money.’ He applies the co-constructivist framework of actor-network theory in describing the historical developments of timekeeping technology imbedded within changing political-economic and social landscapes between the twelfth- and twentieth-century. Jason’s supervisor is Dr. Carmen Schifellite.
Daniela Sanzone is a PhD student in Communication & Culture, joint program York/Ryerson Universities, researching transnational communications, ethnic media, diasporas and migration, and the Italian Canadian community in the GTA. She is also a teaching assistant. From La Sapienza University, in Rome, she holds two Masters, in Communications Sciences (dissertation: La televisione di servizio – Educational Television), and Cultural Anthropology, and a Bachelor Degree in Literature and Fine Arts, with a dissertation on History of Cinema and Critique (Realtà italiana e modelli sociali nel cinema di inchiesta del dopoguerra, 1945-1955 – Italian reality and social paradigms in Neorealist Cinema, 1945-1955).
Daniela has also been a film critic and a journalist for many years, working for television and radio, print and online media, in Rome, and in Toronto. In Toronto, she has been a reporter for the Italian newspaper Corriere Canadese, and a News Anchor, On-Air Host, Producer and Reporter for the Italian News at Omni Television. She organizes (multi)cultural events, is a diversity consultant and a blogger, and has published a few books.
Currently, she is working on a book review of “Global Media Ethics – Problems and perspectives”, Edited by Stephen J.A. Ward, to be published on the Canadian Journal of Communication; and on “A portrait of the present Italian Community in Ontario” to be published on Italian Canadiana, Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Studies, U of T. Her article “Italian Canadian Mass Media in the Digital Era” was published in 2006 on The Virtual Piazza, Special Issue of Italian Canadiana, Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Studies, University of Toronto.
She presented her PhD dissertation project “How to improve ethnic media in the GTA, the crisis of OMNI TV as a case study” on December 2013 at “Future Communication Symposium”, TEL, York University. She also presented her research: A portrait of the present Italian Community in Ontario, on March 2013 at PCA-ACA (Popular Culture Association-American Culture Association), in Washington, DC, section “Border Studies, Cultural Economy and Migration”. In 2006 she presented: Multiculturalism in the World of Mass Media during the Digital Era, at the Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Studies, University of Toronto. In 2002, she presented: Italy and Italians on the North American silver screen, at the 79th Congress of the AATI (American association of teachers of Italian), OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), University of Toronto.
Sara Swain is a Ph.D. candidate in the Joint Program in Communication and Culture at York and Ryerson Universities. She holds a B.A. in Literature (Memorial), and an M.A. in Film Studies (Concordia). She has published essays on the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (2010) and on the female gross-out comedy Dirty Love (2013). Her research interests range from genre cinema, film theory, television studies and popular culture to histories and theories of communication, technology and new media. Her doctoral research explores bizarre physical encounters between animals and media. She takes these material-semiotic contact zones as productive sites to re-examine media ontologies and ideas about communication.
Emma Thompson is a second year masters student with research interests in embodiment, private /public life, disability, the day-to-day practice of getting dressed, and the ideal body. Her thesis seeks to understand how persons with mobility disabilities negotiate their identity through their daily clothing choices and the emotional or affective relationships they have with their clothes. Emma will be presenting a paper discussing the emotions and affective feelings found in the wardrobe at the Fashion6 conference in Oxford this September, and is attending the Canadian Fashion Scholars Symposium in October. Emma is the recipient of SSHRC funding for her thesis research.
Joseph F. Turcotte
Joseph F. Turcotte is a PhD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow in the Communication & Culture Program (Politics & Policy) at York University (Toronto, Canada) where he works with Rosemary J. Coombe (Canada Research Chair in Law, Communication and Culture) on issues related to intellectual property rights, digital media and the intersections with informational capitalism and related socio-economic issues. Previously he has been a research assistant at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), an instructional assistant with the Communication Studies department at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Communication Coordinator for the Canadian International Council: Waterloo Region Branch.
Website: Personal Site.
Intellectual property; informational capitalism; digital media; development; access to knowledge (A2K)
Working Dissertation Title
“Whose Digital Future? Intellectual Property, A2K, Innovation, and Development in an Informational Economy”
Rosemary J. Coombe.
Tuna Baskoy, Tokunbo Ojo
- 2013 – “’All Transportation is Local’: Mobile-Digital-Networked-Technologies and Networked Orientations” (with M. Len Ball). Transfers – Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, Vol. 3(1): 119-139.
- 2012 – “Tweeting as Statecraft: How, Against All Odds, Twitter is Changing the World’s Second Oldest Profession” (with Jorge Heine). Crossroads – The Macedonian Foreign Policy Journal, Vol. 3(2) April-October: 59-72.
- 2012 – “Cultural, Political, and Social Implications of Intellectual Property Law in an Informational Economy” (with Rosemary J. Coombe). In Culture, Civilization and Human Society, UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee (eds.), in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO (Oxford, UK: EOLSS Publishers), pp. 1-33.
- 2011 – “What’s Feminist About Open Access? A Relational Approach to Copyright in the Academy” (with Carys J. Craig and Rosemary J. Coombe), feminist@law, Vol. 1(1): 1-35.
Chapters in Edited Volumes
- 2013 – “Free Trade Agreements and Global Governance Following the Financial Crisis: Moving Trade Forward or Complicating Matters?” (with Jorge Heine). In Les Jacobs and Daniel Drache (eds.), The Changing Global Landscape for International Trade and Human Rights Linkages (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press), pp. **-**.
- 2012 -“Celebrity Diplomats as Mobilizers? Celebrities and Activism in a Hypermediated Time”(with Andrew F. Cooper). In Tristan Borer (ed.), Media, Mobilization and Human Rights: Mediating Suffering (London, UK: ZedBooks), pp. 181-204.
- 2012 – “Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Development and Trade: Perspectives from the Dynamics of Cultural Heritage Law and Policy” (with Rosemary J. Coombe). In Christoph B. Graber, Karolina Kuprecht and Jessica C. Lai (eds.), International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Legal and Policy Issues (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar), pp. 272-305.
- 2012 – Review Essay- “The Canadian Broadcasting Policy Tradition: Learning from the Past, Building for the Future”, Review of Broadcasting Policy in Canada (Robert Armstrong, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2010), Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol. 37(4): 637-639.
- 2012 – Review of Digital Solidarities, Communication Policy and Multi-Stakeholder Governance: The Legacy of the World Summit on the Information Society (Marcy Raboy, Normand Landry, and Jonathan Shtern, New York: Peter Lang. 2010), Canadian Journal of Communications, Vol. 37(3): 539-542.
Nathaniel Weiner is a PhD candidate in York University and Ryerson University’s joint PhD program in Communication and Culture. He holds an MA in Media and Communication from Goldsmiths. His research interests include subculture, fashion, consumption, masculinity, and British social realist drama. He is currently researching men’s online fashion culture.
Cheryl Williams is a PhD student in the York/Ryerson Joint Graduate Program in Communications and Culture. Her research interests cross-sect digital media, childhood studies, and promotional and consumer culture. Cheryl’s 12 years experience working in digital advertising, and her work as a mother to two young boys, uniquely flavour her academic research.