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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 18, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Dr. Ian MacRae

Assistant Professor, Journalism/Society, Culture, and Environment

Contact Information
Phone: 519.756.8228 ext.5868

Office Location: RCW 315

Academic Background


  • PhD, Comparative Literature, Toronto
  • MA, Comparative Literature, Toronto
  • MES, Environmental Studies, York
  • B. Engineering, Mechanical, McGill

I have done a few things over the years: working as an engineer in São Paulo, Brazil and Saltillo, Mexico, in Atlanta, Michigan, and Ohio; as an English teacher in Rio de Janeiro and Bogota, Colombia; as a documentary filmmaker for Canadian Geographic Presents in the High Arctic and coastal British Columbia, in the Amazon delta and Tierra del Fuego. At Laurier Brantford my teaching combines this work, study, and research in a variety of areas or disciplines, as I teach in Canadian Literature, Documentary Film Studies, and Environmental Studies. My primary research is in Canadian Literature and culture in comparative (inter-American, hemispherical) and interdisciplinary contexts.

The route may seem circuitous, but in fact found its academic home in the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. My dissertation, “American Incunabula,” looked at literary history and fictions of foundings (or foundational fictions) in Brazil, Colombia, Martinique, Mississippi, and Vancouver Island. This work was awarded the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Most Distinguished Dissertation (CAGS/UMI) Award, in the categories of the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, in 2007.

I am currently revising this manuscript for publication, and working on projects in Canadian Poetry, Biophilia and Pedagogy, and Dorset sculpture (an archaeological art). My next major project considers various forms of representation (cinema, sculpture, oral history, poetry, historical chronicles, the novel) in and of the Canadian Arctic, and is a political and historical study of cultures in collision and contact in the North. Recent research and invited lectures have taken me to Vienna, Austria, Cape Town, South Africa, the Museum of Natural History in New York, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Eskimo Museum in Churchill, and Dorset settlements along Newfoundland’s west coast.

Grand River Forum

I am also the founder and Coordinator of the Grand River Forum, a new initiative in Contemporary Studies (CT) at Laurier Brantford. LB has the largest core program in Canada – a little known fact! In my second year here I saw an opportunity to try and strengthen the core, interdisciplinary mandate of the campus, and managed to secure funding from LB Development, the Dean, VP Student Affairs, and CT.

The Grand River Forum is built around a core text, a Book which all first-year students, and some upper year students, will read as a required text. This text should be accessible, well-written, and must address substantive interdisciplinary issues in the humanities and social sciences (citizenship, immigration, the environment, land claims, narrative, …). The text’s author will come to the University in the Fall to deliver a University Lecture, and a second Keynote lecture on Interdisciplinary Education and core programs. An Artists Speak! Series will be held, with local artists and students coming together in a series of workshops to make individual and collective pieces which reflect the themes of the Forum; a Gallery Opening takes place, with the collective piece with some good luck finding its way into LB’s hallowed halls. Important also is the Grand River Forum Conference, in which through a series of academic papers Forum themes are treated from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the humanities and social sciences, as LB faculty and students come together in collegial, sometimes inspired, conversation.

The First Annual Grand River Forum, held October 19-20 2010, was by all accounts a great success. The core text was J. Edward Chamberlin’s “If this is your land, where are your stories? Finding Common Ground.” Dr. Chamberlin joined us for two days of lectures, meals, art openings, and discussion. His University and Keynote Lectures can be found at FOR, and at:

University Lecture: “A Covenant in Wonder with the World: The Power of Stories and Songs.”

Keynote Address: “‘If you are ignorant, books cannot laugh at you’: The Value of an Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum.’”