Conference Participants

Professionals, professors, and graduate students from around the world presented papers, workshops, and faciliated discussion at our 2018 conference, located in downtown Toronto at Ryerson University and the Arts & Letters Club. The brief bios of all our participants are catalogued here.

Terrence Abrahams is a research assistant working with the On the Properties of Things project team. He is currently a Literatures of Modernity grad student at Ryerson University, studying with a focus on the intersections of aesthetic/visual studies, grief studies, and contemporary queer poetry. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a major in English and minors in philosophy and book and media studies. He also has an active and ongoing interest in alternative education and experimental pedagogy.
Terrence Abrahams
Ryerson University, MA Literatures of Modernity
Silke Ackermann studied History, Languages & Cultures of the Orient and History of Science at Frankfurt University (Germany). She worked in a variety of curatorial and managerial roles at the British Museum before taking up the Directorship of the Oxford University Museum of the History of Science (MHS). She was President of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science. Silke's research interests include the transfer of knowledge between the Islamic World and Europe, Medieval and early modern scientific instruments in cultural and social context, and the history of astrology and calendars in Europe and the Islamic World. She is a member of both the History and Oriental Faculties at Oxford University.
Silke Ackermann
University of Oxford, Museum of the History of Science (MHS)
Ulrike Al-Khamis is the first to hold the position of Director of Collections and Public Programs at the Aga Khan Museum. She is a well-known figure in the field with more than 20 years of experience as a curator and strategic advisor for museum and cultural projects. She holds a PhD in Islamic Art from the University of Edinburgh, and most recently served as Co-Director at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization as well as Senior Strategic Advisor to the Sharjah Museums Department in the United Arab Emirates (2007–2017). She began her career in Scotland, where she worked as Principal Curator for South Asia and the Middle East at the National Museums of Scotland (1999–2007) and Curator for Muslim Art and Culture at Glasgow Museums (1994–1999). Currently, she leads a team of subject-matter specialists and program managers to establish a strategically cohesive and sustainable set of audience-focused programs and initiatives devised to further the Museum’s mandate and role locally, nationally, and internationally within the framework of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) more generally.
Ulrike Al-Khamis
Aga Khan Museum, Collections and Public Programs
Ailsa Barry is the Vice President of Experience and Engagement at the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) in Ottawa and was formerly its head of interactive media. Before coming to the CMN, Ailsa worked at the Natural History Museum, London.​
Ailsa Barry
Canadian Museum of Nature, Experience and Engagement
Paul Bishop is a Programs Coordinator for Ontario at ABC Life Literacy Canada, a national literacy non-profit. Originally from Nova Scotia, Paul grew up in France and moved back to Canada in 2009. He completed a BA in History from Queen’s University and Master’s in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto. For his master’s project, Paul co-curated an exhibition at Campbell House entitled The Ward: Representations and Realities, which was featured in Myseum of Toronto’s 2016 Intersections Festival. Paul joined ABC in 2017. As part of the team’s Cultural Literacy project, Paul has been involved with identifying and recruiting learner groups to participate in the pilot.
Paul Bishop
ABC Life Literacy Canada
Ainslie Campbell is a 4th year Honours student in English with a Minor in History. She is the Intern for the project “Cultural Literacy: Addressing Learning Barriers with Museum Literacy” initiated by Mount Allison researcher Janine Rogers and the Toronto-based non-profit ABC Life Literacy. As the Cultural Literacy Intern, Ainslie is responsible for researching the history of literacy programming in museums and related fields (adult education and museums, social barriers to museum visitors, etc.).
Ainslie Campbell
Mount Allison University, English Department
Erin Canning is the Digital Platform Administrator at the Aga Khan Museum. Her research is located at the intersection of museum collections information management and visitor experience, specifically in the proposed construction of an affective metadata information system that would structure visitor experience data and relate it to the collection objects that are the focus of the recorded experience. Additional research interests include linked open data for the cultural sector, and visitor engagement through experimental data practices. Erin holds Masters degrees in Information Studies (University of Toronto) and Museum Studies (University of Toronto), and a BA in Art History and Anthropology (Mount Allison University).
Erin Canning
Aga Khan Museum
Sarah Chate enjoys her role as Exhibitions Manager at the Aga Khan Museum working with the exhibitions team on dynamic temporary exhibitions. Sarah holds an Honours BA in Art History and Philosophy from Western University, London, Ontario, a certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College, Peterborough, Ontario, and a Master of Art’s degree in the History of Art from the University of Essex, UK. Sarah was previously Assistant Curator and then Acting Curator at the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Registrar at Toronto International Film Festival, and Exhibitions Manager at the Gardiner Museum, Toronto.
Sarah Chate
Aga Khan Museum, Exhibitions
Myriam Couturier is a PhD student in the joint Communication and Culture program at Ryerson and York Universities. Her work focuses on the relationship between fashion, gender, material, and visual culture. Her doctoral dissertation examines historical collections of twentieth-century fashion in Toronto – including clothing, print materials and films – focusing on the spaces where fashion has been produced and consumed in the city. She considers these archives as tools for the construction of personal identity and the preservation of public memory, which provide material insight into local history through both rare, fashionable objects and ordinary, everyday artifacts.​​
Myriam Couturier
Ryerson University and York University, Communication and Culture
Paolo Del Vesco has been Curator at the Egyptian Museum of Turin since 2014, and Field-Director of the joint Dutch-Italian Archaeological Expedition to Saqqara (Egypt). At the Turin museum he is in charge of the permanent galleries devoted to objects dating back to the Old Kingdom, First Intermediate Period, and Middle Kingdom. He is co-curator of the temporary exhibitions Mission to Egypt 1903-1920. The adventure of the Italian archaeological mission (2017) and Statues also die. Conflict and Heritage between Ancient and Contemporary (2018). He holds an MA and PhD in Egyptian archaeology and household religion from the University of Pisa, he was Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for the Near East in Leiden (2010-2011), and at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (2012-2013). He has taken part in archaeological fieldwork in Italy, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan.
Paolo Del Vesco
Egyptian Museum of Turin
Samuel Gessner is a researcher affiliated with the University of Lisbon. An expert in the history of scientific instruments, he holds a PhD from the University of Paris in Epistemology and History of Science and Technology, and has held fellowships, grants, and contracts at the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Dresden), Scientific Instrument Society (United Kingdom), Centre d’histoire des sciences et des philosophies arabes et médiévales (Paris), and the Koninklijk Eise Eisinga Planetarium (Netherlands), amongst others. His research combines historical, literary, and material epistemologies, and he has significant experience in museum display strategies, organization, and administration, as well as outreach and communication initiatives.
Samuel Gessner
University of Lisbon, Interuniversity Centre for History of Science and Technology
Ellena Grillo is the Exhibitions Officer at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Ellena has worked within the Oxford University Museums for five years in a number of different roles, starting with working in the cross-museums team, then moving on to the Executive Assistant role in the Museum of Natural History, and finally in her current role working in the museum’s public engagement team.
Ellena Grillo
University of Oxford, Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Naomi Hamer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Ryerson University. Her current research and publications examine the cross-media adaptation of children’s literature with a focus on picture books, mobile apps, and children’s museums. She is the co-editor of More Words About Pictures: Current Research on Picture Books and Visual/Verbal Texts for Young People (eds. Hamer, Nodelman and Reimer, 2017), and The Routledge Companion of Fairy-tale Cultures and Media (eds. Greenhill, Rudy, Hamer, and Bosc, 2018). She is also the President of the Association for Research in the Cultures of Young People (ARCYP).
Naomi Hamer
Ryerson University, Department of English
Anita Hermannstädter is the Head of PAN – Perspektiven auf Natur (Perspectives on Nature), the Department for Humanities and Arts at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, established in 2012. After studying modern history, art history and ancient American studies in Berlin, she worked as a researcher and exhibition curator first at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin and then in the department of scientific collections and science communication at the Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum, Humboldt-Universität (2003-2008). At the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, she coordinated the programme: Evolution in Nature, Technique and Culture 2009/2010. Following this Anita managed the exhibitions in the Humboldt-Box at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.​
Anita Hermannstädter
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Perspektiven auf Natur, Department for Humanities and Arts
John Holmes is Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture and an expert on the relationship between science and various forms of artistic practice in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including poetry, painting, sculpture and architecture. His books include Darwin’s Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution (Edinburgh UP, 2009) and The Pre-Raphaelites and Science (Yale UP, 2018). He has worked with a number of major museums over the last six years, including the Natural History Museum in London, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Royal Ontario Museum. These collaborations have centered on research into the scientific meanings of natural history museum architecture and on bringing poetry into dialogue with the spaces and collections of these museums. This work has been funded by the AHRC in the UK and by SSHRC in Canada, where he is the co-investigator on ‘Building the Book of Nature’.
John Holmes
University of Birmingham, Department of English
Stefanie Jovanovic-Kruspel holds a PhD in Art History and Master’s in Science of Communication from the University of Vienna. She is a staff scientist and curator at the NHM Vienna, and is responsible for art-historical research, editorial work, collection archives, collections management, and museum’s didactics. Her main research focuses on the relationship and entanglements between natural sciences and the arts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the function of visual arts in science communications. Her work includes publications on the architecture, conception and construction of the NHM Vienna (2014), several guide-books on the collections, and scientific articles on the history of the collections with special emphasis on the history of entomology.​
Stefanie Jovanovic-Kruspel
Natural History Museum, Vienna, 2nd Zoological Department
Jordan Kistler is a lecturer in English Literature whose work examines interdisciplinary intersections in the museum space. Her first book, Arthur O’Shaughnessy: A Pre-Raphaelite Poet in the British Museum (2016), considered the influence O’Shaughnessy’s career as a British Museum naturalist had on his avant-garde poetry. The book traced a similarity of purpose and execution that underpins both natural history and Pre-Raphaelite poetry during this period. She is currently writing a cultural history of the nineteenth-century British Museum, arguing that a consideration of the popular perception of the role of the museum within society allows us to trace changing attitudes about education, national character, and history itself.
Jordan Kistler
Keele University, Department of English
Trained as a mathematician, Michael Korey is the senior curator at the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon of the Dresden State Art Collections. He thanks his lucky stars daily that he has had the privilege of working with inspiring colleagues in Europe and the US, and of receiving grant support from several foundations, in order to pursue his research and exhibition projects on early modern optics, Renaissance planetary automata, and the collecting of Judaica in the Enlightenment era. From 2013-2017 he served as the Secretary of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.
Michael Korey
Dresden State Art Collections, Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon
Allison Nichol Longtin is the Senior Programs Coordinator for Western & Northern Canada at ABC Life Literacy Canada, a national non-profit organization involved in spreading lifelong learning across the country. Originally from Toronto, Allison relocated to Montreal to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance. Inspired by a love of travel and world languages, she continued her studies in Geneva and later Zurich, Switzerland, completing a Master of Transdisciplinary Art at the Zurich University of the Arts. There, she premiered, see-through, an interdisciplinary work integrating contemporary dance, video and installation, presented in Zurich, Berlin, Montreal and Toronto. Allison brings her background in fine arts, culture and education to her work at ABC.
Allison Nichol Longtin
ABC Life Literacy Canada, Senior Programs Coordinator
Alix Main is a 4th year undergraduate English major, with a minor in Environmental Studies. She specializes in literature and the environment and has been awarded an internship through Mount Allison University for the project “Literary Resources for Climate Change Education at Joggins Fossil Cliffs.
Alix Main
Mount Allison University, Department of English
Erin McCurdy is a Toronto-based dance scholar, historian, and curator, who investigates dance curation, collection, and preservation in museums. Most recently, her research on performance curation and documentation can be found in Curating Live Arts: Global Perspectives, Envisioning Theory and Practice (2018), and the forthcoming anthology Canadian Plays and Performance Documents. Erin has a PhD in Communication and Culture (Ryerson University and York University) and currently works as a writing instructor and researcher at Ryerson University.
Erin McCurdy
Ryerson University
Ingrid Mida is a curator, art historian, dress detective, and lecturer. She is the lead author of The Dress Detective: A Practical Guide to Object-based Research in Fashion and is currently working on a second book for Bloomsbury Academic titled Reading Fashion in Art with The Dress Detective. She is in the final stages of completing her PhD in art history and visual culture at York University.

Ingrid Mida
York University
Jesse Myers is a graduate of Mount Allison University and the ABC Life Literacy Intern. In the summer of 2018 he was the Cultural Literacy Intern undertaking the initial Literacy audits on a selection of museums. Jesse has a major in Psychology and Minors in Philosophy and Religious Studies. He also works with autistic children and adults in group home settings.
Jesse Myers
ABC Life Literacy Canada, Intern
David Pantalony is the Curator of Physical Sciences and Medicine at Ingenium: Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation. He was recently the lead curator for the Science and Medicine Gallery in the new Canada Science and Technology Museum. David obtained his PhD at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. His main research focus is the history of scientific instruments, and he teaches a collection-based seminar at the University of Ottawa.
David Pantaloney
Ingenium: Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, Collections and Research
Emma Peacocke is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow who has written a monograph on museums in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. Her book Romanticism and the Museum was published in the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Cultures of Print series in 2015, and re-issued 2017. Dr. Peacocke’s forthcoming publications include “‘Nothing but musing would do’: The British Museum and Fanny Price’s East Room” in Studies in English Literature, and an article on the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net.
Emma Peacocke
Queen’s University, Department of English
Plenary Speaker Ruth B. Phillips is Canada Research Professor and Professor of Art History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She researches and teaches North American Indigenous arts and critical museology and is the author of Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art, 1700-1900 (1998), Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums (2011) and, with Janet Catherine Berlo, Native North American Art (2nd edition 2013). Her current projects focus on global Indigenous modernisms and historic Great Lakes Indigenous artistic production as a site of cross-cultural exchange. She has served as director of the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, President of CIHA, the international association of art historians, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Ruth B. Phillips
Carleton University, Institute of Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture
Robbie Richardson studies the history of European collecting, museums, antiquarianism, and Indigenous material culture. He is the author of The Savage and Modern Self: North American Indians in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2018). His project, “The Antiquarian’s Indian,” was awarded a Yale University Lewis Walpole Library Fellowship, and later a travel grant to Yale to present his findings.
Robbie Richardson
University of Kent, School of English
Audrey Rochette is Anishnaabe from Whitesand First Nation. She is an Indigenous Relations Consultant, and recently served as Co-Chair of the University of Toronto Decanal Working Group on Indigenous Teaching and Learning, mandated to improve the education of faculty, staff and students about Indigenous language and culture. Her passion for Indigenous relations was cultivated through her roles in the Indigenous community as the Senior Development Officer with Indspire, an Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous People and imagineNATIVE Film + Media, the largest Indigenous film festival in the world. She currently holds a research fellowship position with the University of Toronto specializing in Indigenous research. In 2017, she gave birth to her second son while working on her master’s research, which focuses on decolonizing museums, and in particular on Indigenous voices, language and ceremony in museums. Audrey has volunteered at the National Gathering of Indigenous educators and was selected to be a Regional Representative. She works actively with the Native Students Association as the elected Crane Clan leader.
Audrey Rochette
University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion​
Janine Rogers is Head of Department and the Professor of Medieval and Sixteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English Literature at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. Her current research examines the relationship between literature, science and museums. Specific projects include the Partnerships Engage Grant Cultural Literacy: Addressing Learning Barriers with Museum Literacy, for a project in collaboration with ABC Life Literacy in Toronto, Ontario, and a project on Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe with Dr. Samuel Gessner of the University of Lisbon, focusing on text-instrument relations in the history and literature of science.
Janine Rogers
Mount Allison University, Department of English
Mack Rogers works with a remarkable team of educators, programmers and communicators to develop and share literacy programs with communities across Canada. Mack has been developing educational programs for adults and children for over 15 years, the last eight of which were with ABC. A lifelong learner, Mack has degrees in History, Psychology and Education plus additional training in adult learning, assessment and evaluation, policy, non-profit management, and artisanal hotdog preparation.
Mack Rogers
ABC Life Literacy Canada, Executive Director
Chiara Salvador is currently reading for a doctorate in Egyptology at the University of Oxford and works in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at The British Museum. Her research focuses on a corpus of pharaonic graffiti in the temple of Karnak (Luxor, Egypt) as a way to gain insight into the use and transformation of the sacred space through time. In 2015 Chiara worked as assistant curator at the Museo Civico Archeologico (Archeological Museum) of Bologna, Italy, for the exhibition Egypt: Millenary Splendour (Bologna, 2015-2016). Chiara is the Project Curator for Egyptian Touring Exhibitions at The British Museum, where she prepares content for major international touring exhibitions on ancient Egypt.
Chiara Salvador
University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies
Felix Sattler works at the Hermann von Helmholtz-Centre for Cultural Techniques at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He is the curator for the Tieranatomisches Theater – Exhibition Research Space (TAT) and Priority Research Area Leader of Collecting & Exhibiting at the Cluster of Excellence “Image Knowledge Gestaltung.” His research interests are contemporary strategies of museum display, aesthetic history of knowledge, art and science. He studied Media Culture and Media Art and Design at the Bauhaus Universität Weimar and photography at the College of Fine Arts, Sydney. Since 2002, Felix Sattler has been developing exhibitions and aesthetic practices about natural and cultural objects and collections. From 2007 to 2013, he was a lecturer at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar where he developed a curriculum on “Scenographies of knowledge / Aesthetic Epistemology” and “Praxis of the Collection”.
Felix Sattler
Humboldt University in Berlin, Helmholz-Centre for Cultural Techniques
Jovanna Scorsone is the Education and Public Engagement Manager at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, and former Manager of Children’s and Family Programs at the Royal Ontario Museum. She holds a Master’s in Museum Studies from University College London, and a Master’s in Egyptology from the University of Toronto. Her work in museum learning and interpretation has spanned museums in Canada, Syria, Korea, and the UK. She is an advocate for the use of interactive inquiry and arts-based learning in Museums to create meaningful, cross-disciplinary, and accessible learning experiences that help people to understand the world and each other.
Jovanna Scorsone
Aga Khan Museum, Education and Public Engagement​
Plenary speaker Paul Smith is director of Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Prior to taking up the post at OUMNH he was head of the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. Paul has worked in university museums for most of his career, starting at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge before moving to the Geological Museum in Copenhagen. At the University of Birmingham, Paul was curator, then director, of the Lapworth Museum of Geology before moving to Oxford in 2012. He has wide-ranging research interests in the evolutionary origin of animals and the geology of Arctic areas, and has thirty years of expedition and field research experience in Greenland and Svalbard. Within museums, he has particular interests in the application of digital technologies, the establishment of international partnerships to support natural history research and education, and public engagement in contemporary science issues.
Paul Smith
University of Oxford, Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Will Tattersdill is lecturer in English literature at the University of Birmingham, where he writes and teaches about the intersections between science and popular culture. His Science, Fiction, and the Fin-de-Siècle Periodical Press (Cambridge UP, 2016) investigates the development of science fiction in the pages of late-Victorian British popular magazines, and he is currently working on a study of the dinosaur in popular literature and culture. He is also interested in imperialism, detective fiction, alternate history, genre theory, book history, and the history of journalism. In addition to academic teaching and outreach work, Will has spoken at Eastercon (Britain’s oldest SF convention) and recently gave a public talk in front of the London Natural History Museum’s famous Diplodocus skeleton entitled “Is Dippy Real?”; with Prof Richard Butler, he is co-curator of a temporary exhibit on palaeoart at the Lapworth Museum of Geology.
Will Tattersdill
University of Birmingham, Department of English
Sophie Thomas is Professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto, where she teaches eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature. She is the author of Romanticism and Visuality: Fragments, History, Spectacle (Routledge, 2008), and of articles and chapters that address the crosscurrents between literature, material culture, and visual culture in the Romantic period. She is currently completing a book on objects, collections, and museums at the turn of the nineteenth century (The Romantic Museum, 1770 – 1830: Persons, Places, Things) and principal investigator on a new SSHRC-funded program of research, “Vital Matter(s): Romanticism, Museums, and the Poetics of Sculpture.”
Sophie Thomas
Ryerson University, Department of English
Jenn Wallner is an Associate Professor with the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research centres on intergovernmental relations and public policy in a comparative context. New research considers the ways in which different groups within a federation may experience (non)recognition and (dis)empowerment. While on sabbatical, she worked with the Privy Council Office in the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat. Jenn has published multiple academic and policy papers, been a contributing co-editor of two books with UBC Press, and written a book on federalism and education policy in Canada published by the University of Toronto Press.
Jenn Wallner
University of Ottawa, School of Political Studies
Erich Weidenhammer completed his doctorate, studying the relationship between chemistry and medicine in eighteenth-century Britain, from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) in 2014. He is currently Curator of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection and Adjunct Curator, Science Processes at Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation.
Erich Weidenhammer
University of Toronto, Scientific Instruments Collection