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HomeEventsEsther Birney Series (on Zoom) - Winter 2022

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Esther Birney Series (on Zoom) - Winter 2022

Thursday, January 13, 2022, 10:30 AM until 12:00 PM
Additional Info:
Registration is not available online - contact the event coordinator
Payment In Full In Advance Only
Join us for this well-curated literary arts series including intriguing topics given by knowledgeable presenters. (See below for a complete list of topics and information about using Zoom.)

If you are a current BHS member and would like to join this series, please register by contacting BevAnn directly at Thank you. If you are already registered for the Fall term, you do not need to re-register.
Available Slots:
No Fee
No Fee
Note: If you don't have access to the Zoom application on a computer, tablet or smart phone, Zoom presentations are also available by dialing in using a landline or cellphone. On the day and time of the course, call 778-907-2071 (within Metro Vancouver) and enter the Meeting ID and Passcode that were given after registering for the course. If you live outside of metro Vancouver, please look up the local phone number for your locationat (The calls are muted when you join the meeting, to unmute yourself, please press *6 (as per instructions on the phone). 

January 13 – Jack Paterson, Director, United Players: Haven


Jack will be speaking to us about the production of the play written by Mishka Lavigne and translated by Neil Blackadder. It received the Governor General’s Award for Drama French Language (2019).

Elsie has just lost her mother, and Matt is searching for his past. They’re brought together by the hole that opened up in the asphalt and the contents of the car that fell to the bottom. 
Haven is a play about loss, about absence, about emptiness. But it’s also a play about overflow, about too many memories and too many regrets. 

 speaks of friendships of necessity. Of the people we meet when we need them the most; those we meet when everything around us crumbles. Haven in the storm. 

Jack Paterson
is the founder of the multi award-winning Mad Duck Theatre Collective for whom he adapted and directed Vancouver’s first female Prospero in The Tempest and the Vancouver premières of Titus AndronicusCoriolanus and Shakespeare’s R&J. He is currently the Co-founder and Creative Producer of BoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective, bridging local, national and international artists and audiences separated by distance, language and culture.


January 20 – Morgan Young – “The Ground of Radical Fantasy: Imagining a Critical Theory of Fantastic Literature”

To what extent can fantasy offer a radical critique of society? What does it take to imagine genuine alternate possibilities in modernity, while we remain under the hegemony of technocratic rationalization? This is not simply a question of what we think; it is a question of how we think, and in that context, fantasy may offer surprising insights. Ideas for a critical theory of fantasy should be concerned with how we imagine and how we can re-imagine ourselves in the world, constituting an approach toward possibility and potentiality. This thesis argues that radical fantasy is a way of looking to the past, to the margins of society, and to the human imaginative capacity to conceive of that which is not possible under the horizon of late capitalism.

Morgan Young
is managing editor of Contours, the journal of the Institute for the Humanities at SFU. She recently earned her MA in the humanities at SFU. Her thesis focused on developing a critical theory of fantasy as a part of a broader category of theory for radical speculative fiction. She is interested in the utopian dimension of the Frankfurt School and the romantic critique of capitalism.


February 3 – Storry Walton - Core of my Heart - Part 1 – The Land


Writings of explorers and visitors and poets - prerecorded from Australia.


This and Part 2 on February 10 are replays of the wonderful summer, 2021 presentations.


The Australian continent, Gondwanaland, is over 4 billion years old, the oldest on the Earth. It has been home to the Aboriginal peoples for 50,000 years, the longest continuous culture on the planet. It has been settled by Europeans for 243½ years.

For the British it was the most contrary and hostile environment for colonial settlement that they ever encountered in all their years of Empire.


My two informal talks are based mainly on the poetic response to the land - how poets have responded to our fear of it and our love of it with awe, felicity and humour. I will try to explain what we have grasped of First Nations culture, and, in the first talk, read some passages from writings of explorers and visitors, some of them lyrical, some bizarre.


I sense that encounters with the land in Australia and Canada have both similarities and differences. I hope that some responses from the Australian experience might rhyme with yours.


Storry Walton has worked in theatre, radio, television, and film, in the fields of drama, literature, documentary, rural affairs, music, and performing and fine arts management, variously as a producer, director, feature writer, educator, CEO and Chair. He is a writer and has travelled widely through the deserts and rangelands of remote Australia and written feature articles, a book and produced television documentaries about its life and its people for ABC Australia and BBC Television.

February 10 – Storry Walton - Core of my Heart - Part 2 - The People


Women poets, family, love, and war


See February 3, above, for details.


February 17 – Dr. Simon Devereaux – “The Golden Age of British Detective Fiction”

The years between the First and Second World Wars are universally seen as the “golden age” of English detective fiction. This talk suggests why this was the case through the examples of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and G.K. Chesterton – and, of course, their forebear Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Simon Devereaux
was born and raised in Nepean, Ontario. He received his BA in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1989 and stayed there to pursue an MA (1990) and a PhD (1997) in British history. Before moving to Victoria in July 2004, he served as Lecturer in British History at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is one of three historians of Britain in the U Vic History department, where -- in addition to teaching the survey courses in the subject -- he teaches courses on the history of eighteenth-century Britain, of the British monarchy, and of homicide and capital punishment in England.


March 3 – Dr Christopher Douglas – “American Literature and the Christian Right”

This talk discusses the surprising re-emergence of conservative Christianity as a powerful political and social force since the 1960s, and the consequences of that emergence for mainstream American literature. For more information:

Dr. Douglas has supplied us with a suggested reading list. If you’d like a copy, contact BevAnn at

Christopher Douglas
taught at Furman University in South Carolina for five years before coming to the University of Victoria in 2004. He teaches American literature, particularly contemporary American fiction, religion and literature, and the Bible as literature. His current research focuses on religion, politics and literature in the U.S. He is the author of If God Meant to Interfere: American Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right

March 10 – Brock House Poets

Join poets Danny Peart, Elisabeth Caton, Vera Enshaw, and “Bartholomew” for readings and conversation. All have been featured in Brock House’s monthly publication, The Gallimaufry. Danny Peart’s recent book, Another Mountain to Climb, will soon be available in the Brock House Library (2nd floor).


March 17 – Dr. Mona Brown – “COVID-19 Rhetoric: What We Know Now”

This talk examines several common uses of public health messaging to engage individuals and communities in limiting the spread of COVID-19. It also explores the advantages of such messaging and identifies potential conflicts of interest arising from certain messages.


In addition to teaching in the English department at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College, Dr. Mona M Brown conducts health humanities research. Past research projects have included studies of the rhetorical strategies employed in vaccination and handwashing campaigns. Her current research focuses on the use of all-gender washrooms to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion within postsecondary institutions.

March 24 - Alison DeLory - “What Does it Take to Make it Home?”


Making it Home is in some ways two stories: the story of a small town in Cape Breton that’s fallen on hard times, and the story of a war in Syria. These two stories may seem, at first glance, to be quite different. What does a family anchored by a grumpy grandfather in Cape Breton, who’s embittered by grief and loneliness, have to do with a family fleeing the war in Syria—a world away? I discovered how their stories intersect as I was writing Making it Home.


The title Making it Home is a double entendre that refers to the journey toward home, or the intention to make wherever you are living your home. It circles around the universal themes of leaving home, returning home, and finding a new home.


Alison DeLory is a writer, editor, teacher, and senior communications professional in Halifax. Alison has written news, feature stories, and essays for publications, including The Globe and Mail, and The Chicago Tribune. Making It Home (2019) is her first novel. In 2020 it was named a finalist in the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer's' Prize. Alison is currently the Associate Director of Advancement Communications for Dalhousie University in Halifax.

March 31 – Wendy Wickwire – “Blacklisted: James Teit and the Struggle for ‘Indian Rights’ in Early 20th C. British Columbia”

Every once in a while, an important figure makes an appearance, makes a difference, and then disappears. James Teit (1864-1922) was such a figure.  From his base at Spences Bridge, BC, Teit spent four decades working with and advocating for BC’s Indigenous peoples. In this talk, Wickwire will draw from her 2019 book, At the Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging) to show how Teit’s journeys -- between Shetland, UK and British Columbia; between Boasian anthropology and Indigenous forms of knowledge; between socialist politics and Indigenous political campaigns –fostered cultural bridges that were rare even by today’s standards.

Wendy Wickwire (emerita)
is a member of the Department of History at the University of Victoria where she teaches courses in Indigenous history, oral history, and the history of Anthropology in BC. In 2020, At the Bridge: won the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ $10,000 Canada Prize; the Canadian Historical Association’s Clio prize; the Canadian Anthropology Society’s Labrecque-Lee book prize; and the Canadian Studies Network’s best book prize. In 2021, the book won the International Council for Canadian Studies’ Pierre Savard book prize. Wickwire is grateful to live on the traditional territory of the Wsanec peoples of the Coast Salish Nation.

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