Photo of Sheryl Hamilton

Sheryl Hamilton


Degrees:LL.B. (Saskatchewan), B.A., M.A. (Carleton), Ph.D. (Concordia), Canada Research Chair
Phone:613-520-2600 x. 1178 / 1975
Office:C463 LA (Loeb Building) / 4316 River Building

Current Research

I have three major projects currently underway:

1) Living in Pandemic Culture

2)  Emotional Publics: Exploring the Cultural Life of Law in Canada

3) Sensing Law

Living in Pandemic Culture is a project that I am undertaking with Co-Investigator, Dr. Neil Gerlach (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University), which explores the popular narratives through which we understand and navigate our contemporary environment of diseaseability. We postulate that there are important consequences to living in an environment where we are constantly being advised that we are under threat from pandemic (Ebola, West Nile Virus, SARS, Avian Flu, H1N1, H5N1, the Corona Virus, H7N5, etc.). We think that an important and under-studied site in which to examine how we are making sense of living in pandemic culture is popular culture. From the U.S. Centre for Disease Control’s zombie graphic novel designed to encourage pandemic preparedness, to the incredible popularity of pandemic apps for mobile phones where one takes on the role of devastating the human population, to the human and social devastation imagined by Hollywood films with A-list stars such as Contagion and World War Z, we are positing that a common pandemic narrative is emerging which is challenging the more familiar outbreak narrative through which we have previously understood our relationship with communicable disease. We are fortunate to have funding from Carleton University to undertake this project.

Emotional Publics: Exploring the Cultural Life of Law in Canada is a SSHRC-funded project which considers the important social, political and ethical role that certain high profile Supreme Court of Canada cases play in Canadian public life. The impact of cases like those of Omar Khadr, Henry Morgentaler, Robert Latimer, John Robin Sharpe, Sue Rodriguez, or Bill Whatcott do not stop at the doors of the courthouse.  Rather, these cases and, more importantly, their significant cultural life (in press coverage, docu-dramas, radio call-in shows, neighbourhood protests, advocacy websites, cultural ephemera such as t-shirts and posters, and so on) serve as a space for articulating moral positions, marking the boundaries of polity, and determining the inclusion and exclusion of different subjects.  I am currently working on a book manuscript which has been solicited by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Sensing Law is an edited collection project (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) which I am undertaking with four colleagues in the Department of Law and Legal Studies (Diana Majury, Dawn Moore, Neil Sargent and Christiane Wilke). The book will bring together fifteen authors, from three countries and eight disciplines to explore the ways in which law and the senses collide in interesting, troubling, and provocative ways. With topics ranging from the ways in which forensic nurses use all of their senses in the deployment of “rape kits,” to the changing nature of courtroom spaces and the presentation of evidence in the era of video-simulation evidence; to the emergence of forms of expertise in music plagiarism cases, to the mobilization of “sniffer brigades” in First Nations communities in order to collect evidence against transnational chemical corporations poisoning their environments, the collection promises to be a landmark text in the emergent area of law and the senses.

Teaching Interests and Supervisory Experience

I teach in both the communication studies program (in the School of Journalism and Communication) and the Department of Law and Legal Studies and my teaching tends to be shaped by my interests in both disciplines.  Therefore, I have offered undergraduate and graduate courses in areas such as: cultural studies of law; intellectual property; legal personhood; media law; cultural regulation; biopolitical theory; gender and technology; science, media and law; cultural studies.

I enjoy working with graduate students and can supervise in the following areas:  intellectual property; media and law; cultural studies of law (including law and film, law and literature, and law and popular culture), personhood; moral regulation and governance/governmentality studies; biopolitical theory; science, regulation and law; freedom of expression and the regulation of communication; affect, emotions and law; and law and the senses.

Selected Publications


Becoming Biosubjects: Bodies. Systems. Technologies (with Neil Gerlach, Rebecca Sullivan, Percy Walton), University of Toronto Press, and winner of the G.J. Robinson Book Prize from the Canadian Communication Association in 2012.  Re-released in paperback in 2013.

Law’s Expression: Communication, Law and Media, Toronto: LexisNexis Butterworths.

Impersonations: Troubling the Person in Law and Culture, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, and winner of the Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize for 2010.

Book Chapters and Articles

(Forthcoming), “Trafficking in the Zombie: The CDC Zombie Apocalypse Campaign, Diseaseability and Pandemic Culture” in Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media (spring 2014) (with N. Gerlach).

“Supernatural Bureaucracy: Legal Rationality in Dark Fantasy Literature” in Journal of Law, Culture and Humanities 6: 394-419.

“Identity Theft and the Construction of Creditable Subjects” in Surveillance:  Power, Problems and Politics (Sean P. Hier and Joshua Greenberg, eds.), Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 116-139.

“Not-so-Intellectual: Have Intellectual Property Rights Run Amok” in Communication in Question (Charlene Elliott and Joshua Greenberg, eds.), Nelson, pp. 250-8.

“Now It’s Getting Personal: Copyright Issues in Canada” in How Canadians Communicate, vol. II, David Taras, ed., Calgary: University of Calgary Press, pp. 244-320.

“From Mad Scientist to Bad Scientist: Richard Seed as Biogovernmental Event” (with N. Gerlach) in special issue on Communication, Biotechnology and the Body, Communication Theory, 15(2005): 78-99.

“Made in Canada:  A Unique Solution to Internet Service Provider Liability and Copyright Issues” in In the Public Interest:  Canadian Copyright Reform (Michael Geist, ed.), Irwin Law, pp. 285-308.

“Preserving Self in the City of the Imagination:  Georg Simmel and Dark City” (with N. Gerlach) in Canadian Review of American Studies, 34.2: 115-34.

“Introduction: A History of Social Science Fiction” (with N. Gerlach) Science Fiction Studies 30(2), July 2003: 161-173.

“Traces of the Future: Biotechnology, Science Fiction and the Media” in Science Fiction Studies, 30(2), July 2003: 267-282.