Poster for the Senior Doctoral Fellows Speaker Series

Click on the image above to view the full-size poster.

The Senior and Visiting Doctoral Fellows for 2014/2015 are:

Luncheon Speakers Series, 2015 Calendar

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Mariana Bockarova, Buddhism Psychology and Mental Health
“Mindful Medicine: Resiliency and Combating Cognitive Test Anxiety Through Mindful Writing”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Gary Fogal, International Foundation Program
“Writing-through-Reading: A Pedagogical Approach for Mediating Academic Writing through Literary Studies”

Thursday, April 16, 2015
Luke Melchiorre, African Studies
“Creating a ‘Monster:’ The National Youth Service Pre-University Training, Student Activism and State Repression in Moi’s Kenya, 1978-1990”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Chandni Desai, Equity Studies
“Counter-Cartographies: Palestinian Cultural Resistance in Exile”

Thursday, April 23, 2015
Krystal Ghisyawan, Caribbean Studies
“Mapping as Method and Practice: Same-Sex Loving Women Negotiate Space-making in Trinidad and Tobago”


Photo of Senior Doctoral Fellow Mariana BockarovaMariana Bockarova

Mariana is currently completing her Ph.D. on narrative medicine at the University of Toronto, where she was elected into the Junior Fellowship of Massey College and awarded the TATP Teaching Excellence Award in 2014. During her undergraduate years at the University of Toronto, Mariana started a mental health awareness group targeting adolescent girls, which amassed over 40 volunteers and helped launch a nation-wide campaign with the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). Because of her academic and philanthropic work, she was named a finalist of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 in 2009 and was awarded the provincial June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award. In 2013, Mariana graduated from Harvard University, where she earned a Master’s degree concentrating in Psychology. She continues to be passionate about her research exploring alternative medicines for improving mental health and spreading mental health awareness.

Lecture Abstract: Mindful Medicine: Resiliency and Combating Cognitive Test Anxiety Through Mindful Writing

“Not all must write in order to find meaning, but the mindfulness required by writing could well serve as a tool for therapy” (Kellogg, 1994, p. 215). There is increasing evidence supporting a link between writing about one’s emotional experiences and alleviating physical and psychological ailments (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986; Pennebaker & Seagal, 1995; Andersson & Conley, 2013). Recently, in the academic milieu, studies have focused on relieving test anxiety via writing about one’s emotional experiences prior to the test; however, focus has only been given to standardized exams (such as the GRE, MCAT or LSAT), or high school tests (Burns & Friedman, 2012; Dalton & Glenwick, 2009). As these studies suggest, writing mindfully about one’s experiences may attenuate feelings of worry and anxiety, decreasing cognitive test anxiety thereby leading to an increase in test scores (Ramirez & Beilock, 2011), which calls into question whether current evaluation practices are, in fact, at all valid if one’s anxiety is affecting one’s ability to demonstrate knowledge (Cassidy & Johnson, 2002).

The present research seeks to discover whether mindful, emotive writing indeed affects anxiety, and how these effects might differ depending on the written language. Differing from past studies, the present investigation explored undergraduate students in a large metropolitan university writing a final exam. Three hundred and sixty-two second year undergraduate students were randomized to a control or an experimental grouping, given the Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale, along with other measures, and asked either to express their emotions via writing in their native language or English, or to sit quietly (a control) before taking a final exam. As previously demonstrated (Lepore, 1997; Ramirez & Beilock, 2011), it was expected that writing about anxiety, particularly in one’s native language would be largely effective in decreasing the anxiety felt by students by allowing them to express their feelings in a more emotive way via their native tongue. Statistical analysis reveals this hypothesis was not supported. Qualitative analysis of students analyzed by way of phenomenologically-informed inductive thematic analysis further explored the factors that students, particularly minority students and non-native English speakers, find particularly anxiety-producing.

Based on the present findings of both quantitative and qualitative analyses, recommendations for changes in teaching practices and evaluation methods, as well as factors contributing to resiliency will be discussed.

Gary FogalPhoto of Senior Doctoral Fellow Gary Fogal

Gary Fogal is a PhD candidate in the Language and Literacies Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His research interests include L2 writing acquisition, pedagogical stylistics, complex dynamic systems theory, and microgenetic cognitive processes in L2 learners. He has recently published the text Global focus: Integrated skills through cultural events with Oxford University Press. Gary also teaches and tutors in the School of Graduate Studies, English Language and Writing Support Centre. His most recent research project examines how analyzing literary texts contributes to academic writing acquisition in second language high-stakes writing contexts. Gary also holds a doctoral fellowship with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Lecture Abstract: Writing-through-Reading: A Pedagogical Approach for Mediating Academic Writing through Literary Studies

Recent research and global policy initiatives addressing tertiary-level education have called for classroom teaching that fosters creative minds. However, if we take seriously these initiatives academic efforts must move beyond examining creativity as an end goal: New research must expand our understanding of the creative form as a pedagogical tool. In the second language (L2) context, literature to date has not yet explored how reflecting on the creative process can function as a pedagogical tool for advancing, in the context of this presentation, academic writing proficiency. Rather, English L2 classrooms that employ literary text analysis as a teaching tool often assume that language learners will benefit from examining linguistically diverse texts (Hall, 2007, 2014). This assumption, however, is typically based on intuition rather than verifiable data. Despite descriptive reports highlighting the benefits of literary studies for language learners, there are few quantifiable data supporting the use of literary texts for developing L2 academic essay writing. To address this need, Gary’s talk reports on a mixed-method, classroom-based study that examines the effectiveness of literary text analysis for developing authorial voice in learners of English L2 academic essay writing. Alongside reporting statistically significant findings and insightful learner commentary on the value of understanding the creative form for language acquisition, Gary will also discuss theoretical and pedagogical implications as well as suggest avenues for continued studies.


Luke MelchiorrePhoto of Senior Doctoral Fellow Luke Melchiorre

Luke Melchiorre is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. Over the past year, he has also worked as a Research Associate at the University of Nairobi, a Research Fellow at the University ofDar es Salaam and a Visiting Researcher at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. Luke is a recipient of an International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Doctoral Grant, the 2014 Tom Easterbrook Scholarship for Communications and Mass Media and he is currently an OGS Scholar and a Senior Fellow at University of Toronto’s New College. This summer, Luke will be teaching a course on Government and Politics in Africa at the University of Toronto. His current doctoral research examines divergent trajectories of student activism in Kenya and Tanzania, focusing on the historical relationship between the state and university students in both cases.

Lecture Abstract: Creating a ‘Monster:’ The National Youth Service Pre-University Training, Student Activism and State Repression in Moi’s Kenya, 1978-1990

This lecture examines the brief and turbulent experiment that was Kenya’s National Youth Service Pre-University Training Program (NYSPUT), focusing on the impact that this program had on student politics in Kenyan universities (particularly the University of Nairobi) between 1984 and 1990. I will demonstrate that, while the intention of the program was to create a more obedient student population, which was to be loyal to the political order that Kenya’s National African Union (KANU) was attempting to consolidate,in practice, the scheme failed miserably in achieving this objective. Instead, it served to facilitate the radicalization of a committed, organized component of its graduates, who by the time they arrived on campus confronted the Moi state with some of its most defiant challenges of this period. Ultimately, the fact that, in late 1987, the state had to resort to detaining six of the University of Nairobi’s student union’s (SONU) leadership (all of whom were NYSPUT graduates) and disbanding the newly elected SONU only nine days into their term, attests to the failure of the NYSPUT. In August of 1990, a mere six years after it had been introduced, and following a much-publicized riot in October of 1988 at an NYSPUT training facility by student recruits against their commanding officers, the NYSPUT was quietly suspended by the government. This lecture will shed light on how former NYSPUT graduates narrate the failure of this program.

Chandni DesaiPhoto of Senior Doctoral Fellow Chandni Desai

Chandni Desai is a PhD Candidate in Education at the University of Toronto – OISE. Her doctoral dissertation work focuses on the role of Palestinian cultural producers, and cultural resistance in the liberation struggle for the decolonization of Palestine. Her areas of research and teaching interests include: resistance, social movements, art and activism, decolonization, critical race theory, anti-colonial feminism and anti-colonial/post-colonial theory. Chandni has presented her work in the U.S., Canada, Lebanon, Turkey and Puerto Rico. Her doctoral work has been supported by two Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS). She has taught several courses which include: Arts in Urban Education; Social Justice, Environment and Sustainability; Global Politics and Social Movements; and Foundations of Curriculum Studies. Her publications include: “Shooting Back in the Occupied Territories: An Anti-Colonial Participatory Politics” (2015); and “Trackin’ The Arab Uprisings: Battlin’ the Imperial Production of Death in the Post 9/11 World Through Arab Hip Hop” (in press).

Lecture Abstract: Counter-Cartographies: Palestinian Cultural Resistance in Exile

The lecture will focus on Palestinian cultural resistance, and the centrality of resistance culture in the anti-colonial, nationalist, internationalist Palestinian liberation struggle. The lecture will focus on the life histories of third generation, exiled Palestinian artists that produce spoken word, Dabke and hip hop, and have acquired citizenship by naturalization in the U.S. and Canada – settler colonial states. In settler colonial studies, most research and theorizations of settler colonialism and space, center on the frontier space. While this is certainly important, to understand the workings of settler colonialism in various geographies, it is equally important to consider the ways in which settler colonial violence extends off-the-frontier, into other geographies, as a way to prevent exiled subjects, such as the Palestinians that were forcefully disposed their rightful resistance and claims to land, vis-à-vis the right of return. In the lecture, I partially map the routes/roots of Palestinian exile, and the violence Israel has enacted off-the-frontier upon Palestinians in exile. Through this mapping, I underscore how third generation Palestinians develop(ed) a consciousness of resistance. Although all my interlocutors did not experience the Nakba nor did they ever live in historic Palestine, I demonstrate how exile, and encounters with cultural resistance texts in exile were/are foundational to the development of a consciousness of resistance. The paper aims to historicize and situate the cultural work of my interlocutors within a tradition of resistance culture that was produced during the revolutionary period of the Palestinian fedayeen movement. I outline how the consciousness of resistance that my interlocutors developed through their exile has heavily influenced their cultural work and political activism which is committed to advancing the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Photo of Visiting Doctoral Fellow Krystal Ghisyawan
Krystal Ghisyawan

Krystal Ghisyawan holds a double honours B.A. in anthropology and South Asian studies from York University (2007-2011), and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of the West Indies (U.W.I., St Augustine, Trinidad) in the field of sociology, doing multi-disciplinary research with same-sex-loving women in Trinidad. Krystal considers herself to be an Indo-Caribbean feminist, with research interests including gender and sexual norms in the Indo-Caribbean community, in religion (particularly Hinduism and Islam), and looking at the positions of Indo-Trinidadian women in relation to various cultural norms and spaces such as in Ramleela.

Lecture Abstract: Mapping as Method and Practice: Same-Sex Loving Women Negotiate Space-making in Trinidad and Tobago

This presentation outlines subjective mapping as it has been utilized in my study of same-sex-loving women in Trinidad and Tobago. My data suggests that rather than being fixed in place, queer space emerges as culturally varied, negotiated in particular spaces and in the movement between places. Research participants used subjective mapping exercises to create ‘maps’ (some geographic and others more conceptual and affective) to discuss and depict their efforts and desire to create safe spaces. Drawing on these maps, this presentation will highlight some of the politics at play in claiming a queer space and contesting homophobia in Trinidad and Tobago.