Photo of James Opp

James Opp

Professor - Cultural history of modern Canada; photography and visual culture; history of the body and gender; history of archives; Prairie Canada

Degrees:B.A. (Augustana/Alberta), M.A. (Calgary), Ph.D. (Carleton)
Office:448 Paterson Hall
Website:Visit James Opp's Website

Research Interests

  • Material histories of photography
  • History of Prairie Canada
  • Corporate advertising, commercial photography, and visual culture
  • History of the archive
  • Religion, gender and the body in 19-20th C Canada
  • Place, Memory, Storytelling


2016 Carleton University Building Bridges Award
2015 Carleton University Graduate Student Mentor Award
2013 Public History Prize, Canadian Historical Association (for the Rideau Timescapes App)
2012 Carleton University Research Award
2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta
2009 Carleton Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Award
2008 Hugh A. Taylor Prize, Association of Canadian Archivists
2007 Carleton University Teaching Achievement Award
2006 Jason A. Hannah Medal, Royal Society of Canada

Select Publications

“Placing the Photograph: Digital Composite Images and the Performance of Place,” in David Dean, ed. Companion to Public History (Wiley, 2018), 333-347.

“Branding the Bay/la Baie: Corporate Identity, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the Burden of History in the 1960s,” Canadian Historical Review 96, 2 (June 2015): 223-256.

“Public history and the fragments of place: archaeology, history and heritage site development in southern Alberta,” Rethinking History 15, 2 (June 2011): 241-266.

“Picturing Communism: Yousuf Karsh, Canadair, and Cold War Advertising,” The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada, ed. Carol Payne and Andrea Kunard (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011).

(co-edited with John C. Walsh) Placing Memory and Remembering Place in Canada. UBCPress, 2010.

(co-edited with John C. Walsh) Home, Work, and Play: Situating Canadian Social History. 2nd ed. Oxford, 2006, 2010.

(co-authored with Matt Dyce), “Visualizing Space, Race, and History in the North: Photographic Narratives of the Athabasca-Mackenzie River Basin,” in The West and Beyond, ed. Alvin Finkel, Sarah Carter, and Peter Fortna. Athabasca University Press, 2010.

“The Colonial Legacies of the Digital Archive: the Arnold Lupson Photographic Collection,” Archivaria (Special issue on photographs and archives) 65 (2008), 3-19.

The Lord for the Body: Religion, Medicine and Protestant Faith Healing in Canada, 1880-1930. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.

Recent Graduate Supervisions


Nicholas Hrynyk, “’Pin the Macho on the Man,’: Mediations of Gay Male Masculinity in The Body Politic, 1971-1987.” Ph.D., 2018. (co-supervised)

Sara Spike, “Modern Eyes: A Cultural History of Vision in Rural Nova Scotia, 1880–1910,” Ph.D., 2016. Awarded Carleton University Senate Medal.

Susan L. Joudrey, “Hidden Authority, Public Display: Representations of the First Nations Peoples at the Calgary Stampede, 1912-1970,” Ph.D., 2013.


Isabella Redgate, “Does my DNA know something that I don’t? A Reflective Study of the Direct to Consumer DNA Testing Kit Process,” MA Research Essay in Public History, August 2021.

Arden Hody, “Resurrecting Object Potentialities: Recontextualizing the Display of Mortuary Objects at the Royal Ontario Museum,” MA Research Essay in Public History, June 2021.

Sali Lafrenie, “Heads or Tales: Understanding Canadian Identity through Numismatics,” MA Research Essay in Public History, August 2020.

Hilary Dow, “Multiple authorship and polyvalence in the Victorian-Canadian photocollage album: the work of Caroline Walker and Hannah Sarah Howard,” MA Thesis in Art History, April 2019. (co-supervised)

Francesca Brzezicki, “Pictures, Past, Place: Photographic Historical Displays in Kingston, Ontario,” M.A. research essay in Public History, 2018.