University scholars public presentations on tap

A trio of diverse educators from the University of Lethbridge will participate in the 2010 University Scholars Public Presentations series beginning in March.

Dr. Claudia Malacrida, Dr. Brian Titley and Lisa Doolittle will present free admission lectures Mar. 9, Mar. 16 and Mar. 23 respectively, covering topics from the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities to the attempted reformation of female public sinners by the Catholic Church to an examination of the role that dancing and spectacle helped define the identity of the Blackfoot people of southern Alberta.

The Board of Governors established the University Scholars Program in 2007 to recognize the excellence of faculty members in the areas of research, scholarship and creative performance. Each University Scholar must give a public lecture or performance as part of the University Scholars Series at the University of Lethbridge during the two-year term of their designation as a University Scholar.

The presentations will highlight the ongoing research interests of U of L faculty and how they contribute to their course teachings. All lectures offer free admission, are open to anyone and take place at 4 p.m. in AH100.

– Dehumanization as a Way of Life: Alberta's History of 'Treating' People with Intellectual Disabilities, Mar. 9

In 1928, with hopes of improving services for people deemed in the language of the time to be "mental defectives," the province of Alberta opened the Provincial Training School (eventually renamed The Michener Centre) outside Red Deer. At one time housing over 2,300 inmates, the school operated hand in glove with the province's Eugenics Board.

Residents of Michener were the largest single group of Albertans to experience involuntary sterilization. Based on interviews and archival materials, Malacrida (sociology) describes daily life in the institution and the ways that space, time and care were organized to dehumanize and devalue the people who lived there.

"Understanding the history of places like Michener Centre is important," says Malacrida. "Institutionalization is not dead, and Michener survivors can tell us why this approach is one we should not continue."

– Penance, Prayers, and a Happy Death: Convents and Moral Rehabilitation of 'Wayward' Women, Mar. 16

Late in the Middle Ages the Catholic Church established convents to reform female 'public sinners' who were mainly, though not exclusively, prostitutes. The institutions, known as refuges or asylums, were usually named after Mary Magdalen.

In this presentation, Titley (education) provides a general history of Magdalen asylums as representations of the Catholic Church's assumed authority in sexual morality. He examines types of discipline in the institutions; the role of surveillance and isolation in preventing sinful relapses; and the practices of self-mortification that could lead to semi-religious status for the penitents and ultimately a happy death. He also looks at the transformation in North America of the asylums into private reformatories for 'incorrigible' adolescent girls.

– Performing Negotiations: Blackfoot Dance/Spectacle, the Colony, and Multicultural Canada 1870-2010, Mar. 23

The Blackfoot people of southern Alberta use dancing/spectacle to express identity and their ongoing negotiations with settler populations. In the late 19th Century, dancing among aboriginal peoples was banned. Beginning in the early 20th Century, aboriginal dance was showcased in corporate sponsored 'white' events like the Calgary Stampede and Banff 'Indian Days'. Near the end of the 20th Century, the Canadian government passed the Multiculturalism Act, "to recognize all Canadians as full and equal participants in Canadian society."

Promoting culture-specific dance was fundamental to the multicultural agenda. Doolittle (theatre and dramatic arts) describes how representations of culture as performed in dance uncover the shifting policies concerning national identity and destabilize notions about the role of dance performances in Canadian multiculturalism.