Shannon Lectures, 2017

Expo Exposed!

Convenor: Professor Paul Litt

About the series:

The History Department’s Shannon Lecture Series for 2017, will commence on September 22, 2017 with more details to be posted as they become available. This year’s lecture series looks at Expo 67 as the highlight of Canada’s centennial. A world’s fair held in Montreal, it dazzled the world with its daring architecture, innovative exhibits, and high-minded theme, “Man and His World.” Many Canadians regarded it as Canada’s coming-out party, a moment when the young nation burst into the international limelight and strutted its stuff to universal acclaim. Substitute “Quebec” or “Indigenous Peoples” for “Canada” in the previous sentence and it would be equally true – Expo 67 was a rich, multivalent spectacle that generated diverse messages. In Canada’s 150th anniversary year, the Carleton Department of History is revisiting Expo 67 to reflect upon the meaning of it all. A select group of lecturers will address key topics such as Expo’s intellectual origins, how it became a proud emblem of modernization for both Canadian and Quebec nationalists, its impact on Indigenous rights and culture, and its iconic stature in the histories of architecture and cinema. X out the dates in your calendar to experience exposition by Expo experts that will expand your mind exponentially.

This public lecture series is made possible by the Shannon Fund, an endowment created by an anonymous friend of the Department of History.

All lectures will take place in the Multi-Media Lab (room 482), Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library starting at 2:30PM followed by a reception in the History Lounge (433 Paterson Hall).

Friday, September 22, 2017

“A Painted Summer Scene: Expo 67 in the Context of Canada in the 1960s”

Dr. Gary Miedema (Project Manager, City of Toronto)

Multi-Media Lab (room 482), Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library starting at 2:30PM followed by a reception in the History Lounge (433 Paterson Hall).

About Dr. Gary Miedema

Dr. Gary Miedema is the author of For Canada’s Sake: Public religion, Centennial Celebrations, and the Re-making of Canada in the 1960s, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2005.  For over 10 years he was the Chief Historian of Heritage Toronto, an agency of the City of Toronto, where he continued to study Canada’s mid-twentieth century decades.  He is now a Project Manager with the Museums and Heritage Services section of the City of Toronto, and has been directly involved in the planning of Canada 150 programming in that city.


More details to come.

Friday, October 13, 2017

“Quebec as a Woodstock Nation: When counterculture meets mainstream”

Professor Jean-Philippe Warren (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University)

Multi-Media Lab (room 482), Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library starting at 2:30PM followed by a reception in the History Lounge (433 Paterson Hall).

About Professor Jean-Philippe Warren

headshot of Jean-Phillipe WarrenProfessor Warren is a professor of sociology at Concordia University in Montreal, and he holds degrees from Université Laval, the University of Montreal and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris. He has published over 150 articles in intellectual and scholarly journals and has published on a wide range of subjects related to the history of Quebec – including indigenous peoples, social movements, popular culture, youth, the Catholic Church And the arts. His works have appeared in journals of sociology, history, studies of religions, literature and anthropology. His book L’Engagement sociologique (Boréal) received the Clio Award and the Michel Brunet Award in 2003.  He is also the author of several books, notably Discours et pratiques de la contreculture au Québec (Sptentrion, 2015), with Andrée Fortin, and Autour de Paul-Émile Borduas (Boréal, 2011).


The 1960s can be situated on the horizon of a global wave affecting all Western societies and which included the democratization of higher education, the rise of the consumer society, and the consolidation of the middle class. However, these profound changes had specific repercussions depending on the national context, so that one can contrast the historical experiences of the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Quebec to measure the degree to which the “Sixties” were, indeed, a universal phenomenon. How did the decade lead to singular appropriations? What were the principal adaptations, interpretations and translations? By comparing Quebec with other Western societies, it is possible to shed light on a multifaceted and complex historical period that has had enduring influence on its cultural, intellectual, and social development.

Friday, November 3, 2017

“Visibility/Invisibility: Art and the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo ’67”

Dr. Carmen Robertson (Visual Arts Department, University of Regina)

Co-sponsored by the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies

Multi-Media Lab (room 482), Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library starting at 2:30PM followed by a reception in the History Lounge (433 Paterson Hall).

About Dr. Carmen Robertson

Carmen Robertson outdoors

Dr. Carmen Robertson is professor of art history at University of Regina in the MAP Faculty. An Indigenous scholar of Scots Lakota ancestry from Saskatchewan, her research centers on contemporary Indigenous arts and constructions of Indigeneity in popular culture. In 2016 she published Norval Morrisseau: Life and Art with Art Canada Institute (Toronto, 2016) and Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau: Art and the Colonial Narrative in the Canadian Media (University of Manitoba Press, 2016). In addition to essays in edited collections and such scholarly journals as American Indian Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Art History, Media History, RACAR and Third Text, Robertson also co-wrote with Mark C. Anderson the award-winning Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canada’s Newspapers (University of Manitoba Press, 2011).  An independent curator, she is curating an exhibition of new work by Dana Claxton at the MacKenzie Art Gallery for fall 2017.


Carmen Robertson proposes to trouble notions of visibility and invisibility in relation to the planning, execution, and the archiving of contemporary Indigenous art for the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo ‘67. Included under the auspices of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), today the Pavilion is mostly viewed as a significant moment in the history of contemporary Indigenous arts, yet its history remains fraught with issues of censorship and colonial politics that have continued to plague the arts.

After an analysis of the art commissioned by artists from across Canada for the pavilion including works by Norval Morrisseau and Alex Janvier, the lecture will culminate with a conversation between Robertson and John Moses, a member of the Six Nations Delaware band and Carleton doctoral candidate, about the legacy of the Indians of Canada Pavilion.

Friday, November 17, 2017

“Expo 67: Some Notes on Architecture, Nationhood, and Late Modernity”

Professor Inderbir Singh Riar (Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, Carleton University)

Co-sponsored by the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism

Multi-Media Lab (room 482), Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library starting at 2:30PM followed by a reception in the History Lounge (433 Paterson Hall).

About Professor Inderbir Singh Riar

Inderbir Singh Riar profile picture in front of a buildingInderbir Singh Riar is an architectural historian. He explores ways in which architects and bureaucrats have imagined the modern metropolis as producing ideal citizenries. This work has taken several forms including an extensive survey of Toulouse-Le Mirail, the consequential French ville nouvelle built in the 1960s; the project was done in collaboration with the Paris-based photographer Mark Lyon and supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Recent research includes a look at ideologies of “reconstruction” in West Germany and how cities were perceived as sites of democratic sentiment in the aftermath of war, occupation, and fascism. A larger interest in postwar architecture culture also informs studies on Canadian modernism. Riar is currently preparing a book (forthcoming 2018) on the vast intellectual program of Expo 67 and the manner in which architects engaged questions of civic identity and nation-state power. In 2013, Riar was invited by The Japan Foundation to participate in the Japan-U.S. Curator Exchange Program. In 2017, he joined the Board of Directors of the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum in Carp, Ontario. Riar’s writings appear in books and journals, and he has lectured in universities worldwide.


More details to come.

Friday, December 1, 2017

“The Missing Archive of Expo 67”

Professor Janine Marchessault (Cinema and Media Studies, York University)

Co-sponsored by the School for Studies in Art and Culture

Multi-Media Lab (room 482), Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library starting at 2:30PM followed by a reception in the History Lounge (433 Paterson Hall).

About Janine Marchessault

Janine Marchessault profile photoJanine Marchessault is a Professor of Cinema and Media at York University. She is  a founder of the Future Cinema Lab, and the 2014-2016 inaugural Director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts Research at York. In 2012,  she was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Fellowship to pursue her curatorial and public art research. She is the author of Ecstatic Worlds: Media, Utopias and Ecologies (MIT 2017); Cosmic Media: Marshall McLuhan (Sage 2005); and (co)editor of numerous collections including 3D Cinema and Beyond (Intellect/ University of Chicago Press 2013);  Reimagining Cinema: Film at Expo 67 (MQUP 2014) and Cartographies of Place: Navigating the Urban (MQUP 2014). A past President of the Film Studies Association of Canada, she has held faculty positions at McGill University, Ryerson University and has taught at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV. Books in preparation include Archival Imaginary: Creative Approaches to Digital Memory; The Oxford Guide to Canadian Cinema; and Process Cinema: HandMade Film in the Digital Age.


Expo 67 is remembered for its spectacular showcasing of audio-visual technology and multi-screen film. It is the event that sowed the seeds for the invention of IMAX, the largest screen in the world. But many of the most exciting film experiments ever created in Canada have been lost –some of the most significant titles are missing (ie. Labyrinth (Low and Kroitor) while others are slowly being recovered (Polar Life (Graeme Ferguson), The Earth if Man’s Home (Ann and Nick Chaparos), Conflit (Michel Brault), Kaleidoscope Man and Color (Morley Markson). My essay will reflect upon several historical realities and underlying sensibilities of the Exposition that might help us to understand this missing archive:

1) In July 1967, at the high point of Expo, a devastating nitrate fire broke out in a storage facility near Montréal under the care of the National Film Board, destroying films produced in Canada from the beginnings of cinema to 1950. The fire was in fact the impetus to establish a proper film archive for Canada which was established in the early 1970s.

2) The multiscreen films and experiments with exhibition spaces presented serious difficulties for archivists since the films relied on specialty projectors and viewing situations for their meaning. While Canadian archivists had been working with the idea of the ‘total archive’ during the period (a practice which enabled them to include media alongside textual materials), Expo’s complex media experiments were no doubt difficult to archive.

3) A feeling of immediacy and simultaneity defined the zeitgeist of Expo’s mediatic displays. This infused the event with the ‘enduring ephemeral’ (Chun, 2008). We can speculate that this ephemerality worked against any archival impulse—that is, it helped to create the wonder of an ever unfolding total environment.

Taking these aspects into account, the actual lack of a place to store the films along with the ahistorical sensibility reinforced by unending loops and on-going multi-screen projections, the last section of the essay will focus on recent anarchival artist projects and films about this utopian moment in history. Space Fiction & the Archives (film and installation Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen 2012) and By the Time we got to Expo (Philip Hoffman/Eva Kolcze 2015) are works which offer dynamic excavations that challenge any notion of a stable official memory of this national event.

Please contact Paul Litt at ideally at least two weeks in advance of this event, and at the very least one week in advance, should you wish to request interpretation services.

two hands representing sign language usage