Congress a grad showcase 

By Karen Herland

Being host to Congress, the largest annual Canadian gathering of humanities and social science scholars, is a chance for Concordians to participate in a showcase of our research expertise and facilities. It also allows us to provide access to a prestigious audience for our young researchers.

That is doubly true for Cristina Iovita, whose relationship to audiences has primarily been established during her quarter-century career as a director and playwright first in her native Romania, and here in Canada for the last 14 years.

Iovita is in her first year in the PhD in Humanities program. “I have never been in a Humanities Congress let alone given a scholarly talk in front of an all-scholars audience,” Iovita wrote in an email interview about the impending experience. “But I have been on stage long enough to know that an interesting performance opens as many new perspectives as a new theory.”

Like Iovita, many graduate students will find themselves giving their first academic presentation in the big leagues.

“I recall the first conference I attended, it was a sociology conference at McGill when I was doing my master’s research,” said VP Research and Graduate Studies Louise Dandurand. “I left very impressed by the whole experience. This is a wonderful opportunity for Concordia students”

Iovita’s working on a project that bridges research-creation with the early stages of a three-year multimedia project based on the romantic drama Witchcraft, written by Joanna Baillie in 1836.

Witchcraft is an interdisciplinary project (literature, theatre, film, video and computer generated arts) with an ultimate pedagogical goal: the creation of an interactive site dedicated to students of dramatic literature who are not involved with the theatre program.”

The piece will be performed and discussed under the auspices of Canadian Association for Theatre Research, the Society for Digital Humanities, Hexagram-Concordia and matralab.

This project is part of Iovita’s large dissertation work, under the supervision of Patrick Leroux, who is principal investigator for the FQRSC-funded project. As founder and artistic director of le Théâtre de l’Utopie in Montreal, in addition to her previous experience in Romania, she has developed her own method for helping actors prepare for their roles and perform. It is this innovation that serves as the basis for her PhD project.

“Concordia looked like the ideal setup for combining artistic and ‘pure’ theoretical research, so here I am.”

And Congress is the ideal opportunity because “there is so little connection between the practitioners and the theorists in my field.” She is keen for input from both sides on her current project.

“I am quite looking forward to this event that closes my very first year with the Humanities Doctoral Program at Concordia in such a thrilling manner.”

Iovita is one of three directors involved in Witchcraft, a project that includes input from a number of graduate and undergraduate students.

“We have a number of faculty members involved in Congress,” said Dandurand, “they are definitely aware of Concordia’s initiatives.”

Witchcraft will be presented in the Hexagram Black Box on May 31 and June 1.


Concordia University