Sara Jamieson

Degrees:B.A., M.A. (University of Toronto), Ph.D. (Queen’s University)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2431
Office:1819 Dunton Tower

Research Interests

  • Representations of aging in contemporary Canadian fiction and poetry
  • Canadian short fiction
  • Alice Munro
  • School readers and poetry recitation in Canada, 1850-1950

Current Research

As Canada’s population ages, Canadian writers have increasingly turned their attention to exploring the social, psychological, and political aspects of growing old in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. My research is focused on how fictional texts engage with conceptions of “successful” aging currently circulating in popular culture, as well as the literary modes and narrative forms they utilize to represent aging subjectivities in the context memory and language loss. I am particularly interested in fictional texts that explore the spatial and social complexities of life in residential care facilities. My recent research traces a shift away from fictional depictions institutional life as something to be avoided or escaped at all costs, to a new willingness to explore how the disadvantages of the institution might be mitigated and a habitable existence sustained within its walls. Mirroring the recent proliferation of housing options available, particularly to affluent seniors, as well as a gerontological shift away from an emphasis on the depersonalizing aspects of the old age home as a “total institution,” such literary representations participate in a wider cultural and political dialogue about end-of-life care.

I have recently begun research on a new project on the recitation of memorized poems that was once a standard exercise in English-Canadian classrooms. Focused so far on literary representations of recitation, this research will also involve a detailed inventory of textbooks and readers used in the teaching of reading and literature to young people in Canadian elementary and high schools. I am particularly interested in recitation as a pedagogical practice of remembering that contributed to the formation of national subjects: which poems and poets, and, more specifically, which Canadian poems and poets, were Canadian students reading and reciting? How did the memorization and recitation of poetry foster a sense of what it means to be Canadian? What do these practices reveal about the history of education and curriculum development in Canada? How did they contribute to the delineation of a national literature? What are the connections between classroom recitation and other contexts in which poetry was publicly performed during the period? While this research is focused on some of the best-known Canadian poets of the period in question, it explores their connections to classrooms, school textbooks, and child readers, contexts in which their work has been little discussed.

Recent Publications

“Reading the St. Louis Whirligig: Hockey, Masculinity, and Aging in Paul Quarrington’s King Leary.” Forthcoming in Journal of Canadian Studies. 

“Alice Munro and the Memorized Poem.” Forthcoming in Alice Munro: Critical Essays. Ed. Janice Fiamengo and Gerald Lynch. University of Ottawa Press.

“Reading the Spaces of Age in Alice Munro’s ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 47.3 2014. 1-17.

“‘Surprising Developments’: Midlife in Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are?Canadian Literature 217 (2013): 54-71.

“Joan Barfoot’s Exit Lines and the Pastoral of Old Age.” American Review of Canadian Studies 42.2 (2012): 370-83.

“Joan Barfoot’s Exit Lines and the Pastoral of Old Age.” American Review of Canadian Studies 42.3 (2012): 370-83.

“‘Why Am I Crying?’: P.K. Page and the Mystery of Tears.” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews 65.2 (2010): 16-35.

“‘A Sorrow of Stones’: Death, Burial, and Mourning in the Writing of Anne Wilkinson.”  Studies in Canadian Literature 35.1 (2010): 201-23.

Recent Presentations

May 2010. “Never Cry Whale: Reading the Tears in ‘Leviathan in a Pool’.” At ACCUTE Annual Conference, Concordia University.

October 2008. “White Dust, Lost Bones: Cremation, Burial, and the Graves of Children in Anne Wilkinson’s Poetry.” At John Douglas Taylor Conference, McMaster University.

May 2008. “Between the Funeral Home and the Cemetery: Leo Kennedy and the Material Culture of Mourning.” At ACCUTE Annual Conference, University of British Columbia.