Greetings history grads! Hopefully you are all enjoying the last days of summer.

TH@Y (Teaching History @ York), an initiative in our department for history TAs by history TAs, will be running a History-specific TA Day on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH. Coffee and Registration will be at 8:30 and presentations and workshops will start at 9 a.m. Please join us in the Department of History Common Room (Vari Hall 2183).

Though this event is targeted at new and incoming TAs, we would also like to invite experienced TAs to come and share their experience and meet their new colleagues. Also, recall that TH@Y is offering a certificate (validated by the Department) for those students who attend eight or more TH@Y events. Of course, the value of our TA Days and other TH@Y activities comes not only from the certificate, but also from the valuable insight offered by an open dialogue with your fellow TAs.

Topics at this fall’s TA Day will include:

-Icebreakers and First-Day Protocol

-Lesson Planning

-Marking, Rubrics, and Encouraging Participation

-Rights and Responsibilities, Conflict and Accommodations

-Tech in the Classroom

This is an excellent opportunity to further develop your teaching skills and to meet our incoming TAs and hopefully some MAs as well, in addition to working towards the TH@Y Certificate in Teaching. Lunch and snacks will be provided.

Please RSVP to Max Smith at smithm21@yorku.ca by August 29th.

We look forward to seeing you again on September 4th!

Marlee Couling

Maximilian Smith

Joanna Pearce

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The Harriet Tubman Institute’s Speaker Series: Dr. Bronwen Everill: “Sierra Leone Trade and the Ethical Atlantic”

The Harriet Tubman Institute’s Speaker Series will recommence on Wednesday, February 5th at 3:30pm in 305 York Lanes. Dr. Bronwen Everill from King’s College in London will be presenting her current research: “Sierra Leone Trade and the Ethical Atlantic.”

Come out and join in the conversation. For further information, contact: Myles Ali myles87@yorku.ca

Light refreshments will be served (generously provided by York’s Graduate History Student Association).

Sierra Leone Trade and the Ethical Atlantic

From the foundation of the Sierra Leone colony in 1787, British and American abolitionists eagerly awaited the results of the anti-slave trade settlement experiment. As part of an Atlantic-wide project of convincing consumers and producers of the evils of slavery, Sierra Leone – and its settlers, government officials, slave traders, Eurafrican residents, and original inhabitants – was a case study to be held up in admiration or scorn. This paper will investigate the intellectual and economic contribution of the colony and its surrounds to the debates over consumption and production that shaped the ‘ethical Atlantic’ in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.


Dr Everill received her PhD from King’s College London in 2010. She has subsequently held posts at Oxford and Warwick Universities. She is the author of Abolition and Empire in Sierra Leone and Liberia (Palgrave, 2013), editor of The History and Practice of Humanitarian Intervention and Aid in Africa (Palgrave, 2013), and her work has been published in Slavery & Abolition, the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth Studies, and the Journal of Global History. Her current Leverhulme Fellowship project is entitled African Trade and Ethical Consumption in the Atlantic World, 1760-1840.

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“What do you do when you’re not a grad student?”: An Interview with Brooke Sales-Lee

As part of our efforts to connect graduate students outside of the classroom/department, we’re interviewing our fellow grad students about what they do when they’re not reading, writing, or researching.

This week we interview Brooke Sales-Lee, a PhD Year I who studies the use of Catholicism by the Portuguese dictatorship during the Cold War. She is also one of the 2013-2014 co-editors of The Document, the GHSA’s newsletter.

 1. What do you do when you’re not a grad student? Describe your hobby/job/talent keeping in mind that others may know little or nothing about it.

When I’m not being a grad student, I help do historical research for the Museum of Canadian Burlesque. It’s a new and ongoing project that doesn’t have a physical space yet, but it’s a long-term project. Basically, the Museum is creating an archive and permanent exhibit of documents, photographs, costumes, props, etc. related to burlesque across Canada from the earliest days of burlesque in the nineteenth-century to the neo-burlesque of today. My role is basically helping with the history side of things. Less the actual acquisition of items, more the building of timelines, context, historical connections and trends, etc. So far it has meant working with a lot of memoirs and online newspaper archives, but there are plans for future archival work as well. Basically, when I’m not doing history, I’m doing history with rhinestones.

2. How long have you been doing this, and how did you get involved?

Brooke Sales-Lee with Mysterion and Canadian Burlesque Hall of Famer and burlesque show host extraordinaire Canadian Wolfman.

Brooke Sales-Lee with Mysterion and Canadian Burlesque Hall of Famer and burlesque show host extraordinaire Canadian Wolfman.

I started working on the Museum project early in 2013 when I was writing a paper for Marc Stein’s History of Sexuality course. I was already familiar with the local burlesque scene in Toronto, and it seemed like a great way to get more involved. I came to York as a Canadian who had been educated from Grade One through university in the US. Suddenly there were all these people doing really great Canadian and local history. I knew no Canadian history whatsoever, did really pretty traditional top-down history focusing on elites, and when I heard that the organizer behind all this, Chris Doyle (aka Mysterion the Mindreader), was looking for help, I jumped at the chance. I wrote my paper on burlesque in Toronto and struggled all the way, as there really isn’t a lot available yet. But I got into my primary research, twentieth-century Portuguese history, because there wasn’t really much out there (at least in English), so clearly this is just the sort of thing I enjoy. After the paper was done, I sent all my notes, my finished paper, a timeline, and a bunch of news clippings to Chris, who has been keeping me in the loop since.

 3. What’s your favourite aspect of this activity?

It’s really hard to say! The first thing that comes to mind is the non-research part, going to shows and especially taking people for the first time. I’ve never taken someone who didn’t have fun, and a lot of people have said to me, “oh, I GET IT now!” I’m a bit of an evangelist for burlesque as a feminist, working-class-friendly, politically engaged art form, and it can be hard to explain how women taking off their clothes and dancing in rhinestone underwear can be a bold feminist act. Learning more about the history has really only driven this home for me, though. I’ve read a fair bit of secondary literature from various disciplines, and you see over and over again the themes of women escaping poverty and abuse, owning their bodies and sexuality, becoming business-savvy, defying gender norms and expectations. A lot has been written about all this in the US, but there’s not a whole lot yet about Canada.

Working on this has given me a really great connection to my city. It’s not all politicians and war heroes. When I am in Chinatown and see the RBC branch on the corner of Dundas and Spadina, I know that used to be a huge burlesque theatre. I walk down Queen Street and see the lovely old church that was the focus of pearl clutching in the early 1960s because there was a burlesque theatre practically across the street, and city councilors had accidentally made burlesque on Sundays legal when they made theatrical performances of any kind legal on Sundays. I know that because the venues for concerts were so limited in the 1970s that the first punk rock concerts in Toronto took place in burlesque halls, the only venues willing to take them. The project has given me a feel for the artistic, musical, theatrical, and in some cases political bones of twentieth-century Toronto. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to get without this project, and it’s given me a sense of belonging here.

I went to a fundraiser show for the Museum last fall, and it was really remarkable. A lot of historians will know that as you do research, you find all sorts of fun anecdotes and stories that don’t make it to your finished work. This show was about the history of burlesque in Toronto, and it was like watching all my fun anecdotes play out on stage before me. With feather fans and rhinestones! I don’t think I could ask for more than that.

4. How do you manage the balance between your graduate career and your activity?

I’m a big fan of productive procrastination, where you procrastinate from one important task by doing another important task. But really, while I’m in coursework, a lot is on hold. I tried to be honest with myself and the other people working on the project about my ability to devote time to extra research, and I’m a bit time-starved right now. But if I don’t go to a burlesque show fairly regularly and chat with people I know, catch up with Chris about the latest progress on the Museum project and so on, I get a bit run-down. There are a few monthly shows in Toronto and a ton of special shows, often with fun themes, so I can hardly go to all of them, but I will often go to a couple shows a month and just make sure I get my work done before 7:00 and don’t have class or TAing first thing the next morning.

Brooke with burlesque legend Tempest Storm.

Brooke with burlesque legend Tempest Storm.

Most shows start at or after 9:00, so it’s really more a matter of not having anything to do early in the morning. I make sure to always go to events with legends, the women who were performing in the hey-day of burlesque from the 1930s to 1950s, and last year I sat moist-eyed through the greater part of a talk by Tempest Storm about her life and experiences. I still keep an eye out for books and articles, and I’m a bit of a compulsive researcher and sometimes do a quick web search of a digital archive. You know, just to check… And because I just can’t leave well enough alone, I’m helping one of the producers of a monthly show organize the February show to be a fundraiser for a women’s shelter. It’s not about history per se, but it definitely connects back to the themes of women escaping poverty abuse, reclaiming their bodies, and remaking their lives. And that’s really my favourite bit, I think.

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Teaching History @ York: Winter TA Day – Teaching Students to Write Research Papers

Winter TA Day poster IMAGEOn Monday January 13th Teaching History at York (TH@Y) is hosting its first workshop of the winter term. This workshop is focused on preparing students for the large research papers and writing projects that are common to the second term of the academic year. Guest speakers and fellow TAs will be leading group discussions related to:

  • Teaching Students Effective Research Skills
  • Teaching Students to Develop Thesis Statements and Outlines
  • Teaching Proper Citation Methods
  • Getting Students to Edit/Giving Meaningful Feedback

We hope as many people as possible will be able to attend and share their experiences and pedagogical approaches to teaching research skills and academic writing. We also hope that faculty will be able to attend and offer further insight into the rationale behind their writing assignments and the skill sets we wish to develop in our undergraduate students.

Attendance at TH@Y events also counts towards completion of the TH@Y Teaching Certificate, a professional development certificate that recognizes an ongoing commitment to skill development in classroom instruction. The certificate is recognized by the Graduate History Department and is a nice addition to your teaching portfolio.

WHAT: TH@Y Term Paper Development Workshop

WHEN: Monday January 13, 2014 10:00 am to 12:30 pm

WHERE: Vari Hall 2183 (History Common Room)

Light refreshments and lunch will be provided for attendees

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Historians’ Craft Series: Dr. Nancy van Deusen on December 5th

Nancy van Deusen

GHSA Historian’s Craft series presents:

Dr. Nancy van Deusen

“All the World in a Village: Indio Slaves in Sixteenth-Century Carmona, Spain”

Thursday December 5th, 2-3:30pm

VH2183 History Common Room

“This case study of the village of Carmona, 20 miles northeast of Seville, Spain, examines the ways the expanding globe was being imagined in the sixteenth century. Two litigation suits initiated by indigenous litigants for their freedom spanned the years from 1557 to 1572 and encompassed three generations (two women, their daughters, and grandchildren). It pitted inhabitants of the village, including slaves called indios from India, Africa, and disparate parts of Latin America, against one another. At play were the relationships of power and class distinctions among the factionalized local elite and the polarized pecheros, or Spanish labourers, who worked side by side with slaves. This presentation is a micro-historical exploration of village-imperial politics carried out against a backdrop of shifting perceptions of human bondage in an increasingly globalized economy. It emphasizes how some of the most peripheral individuals of empire – people in bondage – actively forged global changes on a local level.”

Refreshments will be served. All are welcome. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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First Nations Solidarity Documentary Screening, Dec 4, 2:30-4pm

Biimadasahwin Screening Dec 4 2013

Join the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group for food, discussion, and a documentary screening of “Biimadasahwin.” December 4, 2:30-4pm, 109 Atkinson, York University.

Biimadasahwin means “life” in Ojibway. It is the name given to a place and project led by Darlene Necan, elected spokesperson of off-reserve members of Ojibway Nation of Saugeen no.258. She began to make her courageous vision of reclaiming her ancestral Anishinabek territory a reality, by returning to live on her trapline.

In June 2013, CUPE 3903’s The First Nations Solidarity Working Group, supported a log cabin home build led by Darlene and other women who are rebuilding community power. The cabin sits on Darlene’s trapline and serves as a meeting place for community political organizing.

In August, Darlene and her organization, Northern Starlights Citizens of Saugeen, led the building of infrastructure for Biimadasahwin to be a gathering and teaching place for youth, community members and supporters.

On December 4, 2:30pm, 109 Atkinson, we will screen a short documentary which shares Darlene’s story and showcases the collective home building project, Saugeen land and people in Northwestern Ontario. Come learn about and support this inspiring project!

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“What do you do when you’re not a grad student?”: An Interview with Karlee Sapoznik

As part of our efforts to connect graduate students outside of the classroom/department, we’re interviewing our fellow grad students about what they do when they’re not reading, writing, or researching.

This week we interview Karlee Sapoznik, a PhD candidate who researchers and writes about slavery in all of its forms, human rights, abolitionist movements, servile forced marriage, genocide and memory, and the Holocaust. She is also the co-founder and president of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery.

1. What do you do when you’re not a grad student? Describe your hobby/job/talent keeping in mind that others may know little or nothing about it.

The audience at the Alliance Against Modern Slavery's third conference in Toronto on February 23, 2013. Photo © Stephanie Kretzschmer of AKA Photography

The audience at the Alliance Against Modern Slavery’s third conference in Toronto on February 23, 2013.
Photo © Stephanie Kretzschmer of AKA Photography

When I am not a graduate student, I am the President and Co-Founder of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery (the Alliance), a free-standing incorporated and registered non for profit charitable organization in Canada. The Alliance works at the grassroots, community, and academic levels to raise awareness about, conduct groundbreaking research on, and devise solutions to end slavery. Friends and family often tease me that you can usually find me in places most people avoid. Our team and I have spent time in Mali, where Tombouctou is located and where we met President Amadou Toumani Touré before the coup-d’état against him in March of 2012. We have also spent time in Cusco, Peru, not at Machu Picchu, but working with survivors of slavery and constructing a vocational centre. Most recently, I helped lead training on understanding and working with children and youth who have been exploited and trafficked in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is a hot spot for human trafficking for the purpose of commercial exploitation. You can also find me regularly speaking to individuals many people avoid, including reporters, law enforcement, front-line service providers, shelter staff and government officials.

2. How long have you been doing this, and how did you get involved?

My grandparents are survivors of slavery. Through them, I witnessed what slavery can do to an individual, to a family and to entire communities. As a result, I suppose I have been exposed to anti-slavery thoughts and efforts since birth. I have always felt a deep moral and social responsibility to do all I can to ensure freedom, dignity and justice for all. In 2008 while I was completing my Masters at York University in historical anti-slavery, a survivor I met shared her testimony of a brutal servile marriage. That was a major tipping point for me. I began to research modern slavery more seriously. At that time, experts placed the number of slaves at 27 million, about the population of the entire country of Canada in the early 1990s. I quickly came into contact with more survivors and families whose loved ones had been enslaved. Yet, there was no non-profit anti-slavery organization in Canada with a non-partisan, non-denominational, multidisciplinary, inclusive local and global mandate. In 2009-2010, our first executive and board came together to found one. We officially launched as a charity in January 2011.

Since its beginning, the Alliance has been a diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual organization. We have collaborated with people of all ages and backgrounds to foster a spirit of cooperation across traditional language, cultural, religious, and political divides. RCMP personnel estimate that only 5% of Canadians understand that Canada is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, forced labour and forced marriage. Fewer realize that many everyday commodities we consume, such as coffee, chocolate, cell phones and clothing, are produced by slave labour. We are deeply motivated to improve this awareness while simultaneously working to eradicate the practice of enslaving men, women and children in our local and global communities.

3. What’s your favourite aspect of this activity?

There are two things that I find equally rewarding. The first is seeing the joy that freedom brings. It’s amazing to see survivors heal and dream again. Often their deepest hopes are things that you and I take for granted: finishing school, getting a job, getting married and having a family. The survivor of servile marriage I mentioned above is now married to a man she chose to wed based on mutual love and respect. The second is working in collaboration with our incredible team, students and communities across Canada who are standing up for freedom, and speaking out against injustice. They and the next generation inspire me on a daily basis.

4. How do you manage the balance between your graduate career and your activity?

My family, friends, fellow graduate students, supervisors, work-out buddies and wider community help me maintain a healthy balance. I am grateful for their wonderful support, and the ways in which they collectively help me discern when to say yes, no and later to opportunities.

Karlee and her team following the Alliance Against Modern Slavery's conference in Toronto. Photo © Stephanie Kretzschmer of AKA Photography

Karlee and her team following the Alliance Against Modern Slavery’s conference in Toronto.
Photo © Stephanie Kretzschmer of AKA Photography

Thank you, Karlee, for finding the time to answer our questions! If you or someone you know would be interested in being interviewed for this series, please contact us!

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