Reading and Research Groups

  • Americanist Research Group 

    The 20th Century Group

    The 20th Century Group invites Graduate Students and Faculty to present their research in a friendly, informal setting. One of the aims of the group is to produce the opportunity to take part not only in the current revolution in Modernist and Contemporary studies, but also to think about the 20th Century as a historical category in Modernity.

    As such, it works to function as part of a growing academic community of scholars who are committed to interdisciplinary approaches to all aspects of 20th Century Thought and Culture.

    Past presenters have given papers on such topics as Beckett and Cinema, Joyce and Textual Studies, Aestheticism and Camp, Guilt and Robert Walser, Violence and Spectatorship in Performances of Sarah Kane, Wilde and late Victorian “Criminality”, Eliot and Fascism, and New German Cinema.

    For more information about the 20th Century Reading Group, please contact Professor Allan Pero

    The Canadianist Research Group

    invites students and faculty interested in Canadian literary and cultural studies to participate in bi-monthly meetings dedicated to engaging with the field’s diverse contexts, debates, and creative works in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Group meetings are flexible to members’ schedules, and can take a range of forms, including: discussing literary and otherwise creative productions, discussing criticism and theories in the field, presenting and sharing research, and proposal workshops. For more information, please contact Emily Kring or Kevin Shaw


    The Centre for American Studies

    For information about the Centre, its resources, guest speakers and reading groups, please visit the Centre’s UWO website.


    The Critical Theory Reading Group

    The goal of the Critical Theory Reading Group is to provide graduate students, especially those students studying for the Literary Criticism & Theory comprehensive exam, a place to come together to read and talk about theory as well as provide a welcoming forum for all graduate students to present theory papers or test-drive potential theory conference papers.

    The Theory Group Forums are a moderated discussion area for members of the University of Western Ontario’s Theory Reading Group. The Forums, found at, are fully multimedia-capable, and members can create blogs and galleries as well as upload images, sound and video clips relevant to the discussion and debate of all areas of critical inquiry.

    Contact information for this group will be available shortly.


    The Feminist Reading Group

    The Feminist Reading Group offers a forum for graduate students and faculty working in various fields of feminist scholarship and activism. The group convenes once a month throughout the academic year to discuss readings in literature and theory—often with an eye to investigating the different historical, cultural, and political contexts that inform broader questions in feminist fields of study. Although the group is based in the Department of English, its membership constitutes an interdisciplinary community committed to investigating feminist literature, theory, and practice from a number of perspectives. The group always welcomes new members. Upcoming meetings are announced on the Feminist Reading Group list, and are posted online at

    Contact information for this group will be available shortly.


    The Seminar for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Western

    The Seminar for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Western was started in the late sixties as a joint venture between History, French, and English (leading lights of the early days were Jack Lander and John Rowe of the Department of History), although it quickly expanded to include members from many other departments and from the affiliate colleges. For its first twenty years, the Seminar focused on very well-attended papers by major scholars in fields of medieval and Renaissance studies, and papers by members of the Seminar.

    In the late eighties, the Seminar expanded its focus to conferences of various kinds, using its funding (jointly from the Faculties of Arts and of Social Sciences) as seed money to bring in larger conference grants. For the next ten years or so the Seminar sponsored at least one major conference each year, and sometimes a symposium, series of papers, or smaller-scale conference as well. These included conferences on the fantastic in medieval texts, Milton, witchcraft, representation, material culture, the Bible, and, most recently, a sequence of two major conferences on current medieval book projects and articles respectively, New Medievalisms I (2004) and New Medievalisms II (2005).

    Contact information for this group will be available shortly.


    The Performance Studies Research Group

    Western’s Performance Studies Research Group is an interdisciplinary body made up of more than twenty scholars – both faculty and graduate students – from across the university. We meet twice per term, organizing our gatherings around shared readings from current debates in performance-related disciplines, the presentation of research by members, and lectures by visiting or in-house speakers. While we do not adhere rigorously to the formal definition of “performance studies” emerging from the discipline’s American school (developed by Richard Schechner et al, and maintained by such bodies as TDR and Performance Studies International), we come together in our common faith in what Diana Taylor calls performance’s power to enact theory, and theory’s power to perform “in the public sphere.” Our definition of performance is as flexible as the scholars who number among us, and we always welcome new members. For more information, please contact Meghan O’Hara and/or Dr. Kim Solga.


    The Postcolonial Discussion Group

    The Postcolonial Studies Reading Group is a community of scholars who conduct research on and teach a range of topics pertaining to forms of empire, imperialism, colonial and neo-colonial experience. The group focuses on intersections of theory, literature, and visual culture with race, class, gender, and sexuality. Group members come from various departments and faculties at Western University and colleges in London.  Members work on literatures and film of Africa, the Caribbean, South-Asia, and the Indigenous cultures of Canada and the US. The group meets about once a month. Activities at the meetings include discussions of selected readings or writing workshops around a member’s project. The group also hosts speakers.

    To join the group’s mailing list or for more information on the group, please contact Professor Taiwo Adetunji Osinubi.


    The Research Group for Electronic Textuality and Theory

    For information about this group, please consult their website or join their Facebook group.


    The Romantic Reading Group

    The Romantic Reading Group is composed of students from the Modern Languages and English Departments, as well as from the Centre for Theory and Criticism. The group meets fairly regularly but determines its precise schedule annually, in order to accommodate members’ needs as best as possible. Each year is organized by a theme. Past themes include, for instance, “Revisiting Organicism,” “Anarchy,” and, last year, “Romantic Temporalities.” The group typically works towards either a poster presentation for the Arts and Humanities Research Day or a small, intense conference sometime in the spring.

    For more information about the Romantic Reading group, please see their website.


    The Saga Reading Group

    Founded in 2003 and based in the Department of English at The University of Western Ontario, the Saga Reading Group focuses on translating and discussing texts from the Icelandic and Norwegian Middle Ages. The activities of the Group are open to all interested participants at any stage of language acquisition.

    Weekly reading and translation sessions are held in the Fall and Winter Terms. Emphasis is upon memorable episodes in classic works such as Egils saga, Njáls saga, Laxdœla saga, Hrafnkels saga, and Eyrbyggja saga. Some sessions are devoted to short sagas, such as the much-loved “Auðunn and the bear” (Auðunar þáttr vestfirðings), and to eddaic poems such as Völundarkviða and Atlakviða. Among the Group’s future plans is to read folktales from the nineteenth-century collection by Jón Árnason, along with poetry and stories written by Icelandic-Canadians. Other activities include discussion of modern scholarly and critical approaches to the sagas.

    Participants are encouraged to workshop papers towards presentation at conferences such as the Medieval Academy’s Kalamazoo meeting, the Leeds Congress, meetings of the Canadian Scandinavian Society, and the International Saga Conference. Additionally, the Group takes part in a conference series organized collaboratively with Cornell University and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.

    The Group also holds occasional informal conferences of its own, with a mix of faculty and student presenters. These events are based on the graduate Old Icelandic course taught in the English program and on undergraduate courses on the Sagas in Translation taught from time to time in the English and Modern Languages programs. The three visiting speakers at the inaugural conference, held in November 2004, were Dr Birna Bjarnadóttir (University of Manitoba), Dr Anne Brydon (Wilfrid Laurier University), and Dr Carol Clover (University of California, Berkeley). Funding and practical support toward the event were provided by the English Department, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Medieval Renaissance Seminar, and the Western Early Modern Society.

    The Saga Reading Group became a recognized “Research Group” in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at The University of Western Ontario in 2004. Faculty and student research linked to the Group includes projects on Viking-Age poets and story-tellers; mythologies of empowerment in the two great settler eras (ninth-century Iceland and nineteenth-century Manitoba); emerging notions of ethnicity and nationhood in early Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England; evolution of personal poetry; themes of embodiment and body narrativization; and the Germanic smith.

    Contact information for this group will be available shortly.


    The Speculative Fiction Reading Group

    The Speculative Fiction Reading Group meets once a month to discuss speculative fiction. The group broadly defines speculative fiction as literature that imagines alternate worlds or attempts to invent the world anew, often to raise key questions about ‘humanity.’ Although what ‘counts’ as speculative fiction has been debated since the term was first used, the Speculative Fiction Reading Group uses it as an umbrella term that includes/uses elements of: ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science fiction, utopias and dystopias, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, alternative histories and historical fiction, feminist fabulation, fantasy, space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk, magic realism, gothic and horror, to name a few. Although speculative fiction is often found at the margins of academia, one of the main goals of this Reading Group is to explore it as a productive site for thinking through various social and political issues. Please contact Stephanie Oliver or Rebecca Campbell if you’re interested in joining!


    The Western Early Modern Society

    Founded in 2001 and based in the Department of English at The University of Western Ontario, the Western Early Modern Society (WEMS) is dedicated to the exploration and dissemination of research relating to a very broadly-defined field of literary and cultural history, ranging from the end of the Middle Ages to the onset of Romanticism.

    The breadth and apparent vagueness of this range is deliberate: one of the functions of the Western Early Modern Societyis to challenge the conventional demarcations of literary “period,” especially those separating the “Renaissance” from the “Restoration and eighteenth-century.” It is a fundamental tenet of the group that the continuities of literary history are at least as important as the convenient but disruptive “epochal milestones” that have tended to dominate critical thinking.

    The Western Early Modern Society holds a number of special readings, lectures, and event throughout the year, and frequently joins with other groups as a cosponsor of colloquia or guest lectures. Both faculty and graduate students have been invited to present papers, and the activities of the group are open to all interested participants.

    For more information on the Western Early Modern Society, please visit the WEMS website, or contact Professor MJ Kidnie.


    Americanist Research Group

    The Americanist Research Group at Western University explores the field of U.S. literary and cultural studies. Our members organize events in conjunction with the English Department’s speaker series, and promote scholarship in the field.We meet monthly to workshop conference papers, articles, and thesis and book chapters; to read recently published criticism in the field; and, in our “spin-off” reading section, to discuss contemporary American fiction.

    For more information about the Americanist Research Group, please contact Riley McDonald.


    Victorian Reading Group

    The Victorian Reading Group at UWO offers Graduate Students and Faculty opportunities to come together in an environment of informal discussion and community in order to share research interests, to read and discuss various Victorian genres (from categories in visual culture to poetry, from periodicals to literary criticism), and to provide a forum for input and feedback egarding fellow colleagues’ presented ideas and work. The primary (though not exclusive) goal of the VRG is to enjoy and critique the various literary creations, products, and developments occurring both during the Victorian period and in its cultural and theoretical after-lives within the 20th and 21st centuries. In other words, the VRG serves to provide a setting in which fellow scholars and Victorian enthusiasts can examine the areas that interest them in a manner that is critically engaged with questions concerning what constitutes and shapes Victorian Studies—in its past, present, and potential futures.

    For more information, please contact Christine Penhale or Proffessor Matthew Rowlinson.


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