TML lab director Laura Horak was awarded the 2021 Carleton Research Achievement Award, the university’s top prize for researchers. She is one of ten researchers to receive the prize this year and one of only two in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS).

Horak’s winning project is titled “Mapping Trans Mediascapes.” It will investigate the aesthetic, political, and cultural work of trans-made films in Canada and the US from the 1990s to today. As part of that investigation, her research team will build a new type of collaborative digital tool, the Transgender Media Portal (TMP), an online database and website that combines features of IMDb and Wikipedia. It will:

  1. enable new ways of analyzing trans film production, distribution, and reception;
  2. engage trans arts communities and the public to collaboratively generate new knowledge about trans films;
  3. share information about trans-made films with educators, students, festival programmers, artists, activists, and the public; and
  4. model best practices in terms of academic/community digital partnerships and transgender digital security and privacy.

The project will also contribute to building the ground floor of an emerging subfield, trans cinema and media studies.

Horak’s research is supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant (2020-2015) and an Ontario Early Researcher Award (2019-2014) and builds on a pilot project created with a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2017-2019). The award will provide Horak with a 1.0 course release in 2021-2022 so that she has more time to lead a team of student researchers (2 undergrads, 4 MAs, and 2 PhD students) in drafting the detailed specifications and requirements of the TMP to be presented to a software developer at the end of the academic year.