Cultural Studies Alum Collaborate on Book with Dr. Pauline Greenhill

Graduate Studies

Kendra Magnus-Johnston Kirstian Lezubski
Kendra Magnus-Johnston Kirstian Lezubsk

The Faculty of Graduate Studies recently caught up with two MA in Cultural Studies alumni, Kendra Magnus-Johnston and Kirstian Lezubski who worked with Dr. Pauline Greenhill on her recent publication: Channeling Wonder.

Can you tell me about the program you took here and when you graduated?

Kendra: I graduated with a 4-year BA in Rhetoric, Writing and Communications; followed by a masters in English with a Focus on Cultural Studies (2010). I was in the first cohort to graduate from the program; it was incredibly invigorating because it felt like I was part of something that was just taking shape -- it was exciting. My shining moments included attending the Children's Literature Association Conference with Catherine Tosenberger, Naomi Hamer, and Mavis Reimer; where I presented an essay on Lemony Snicket that Mavis nominated for the 'best student paper' award. It won. If that wasn't exciting enough, the essay was subsequently published in Children's Literature Quarterly, as well.

Kirstian: I graduated from the Cultural Studies MA program at the University of Winnipeg in 2012. Because I came in with a strict background in literary studies, the Cultural Studies program was uniquely challenging in that it forced me to expand into more interdisciplinary work in popular culture, sociology, history, and linguistics. Having the opportunity to work in all these different fields has helped me to diversify my research and to become a more well-rounded critical thinker overall.

 Can you talk about your contribution to Dr. Pauline Greenhill’s new book: Channeling Wonder

Kendra: The research I conducted for Pauline Greenhill and Jill Rudy's book Channeling Wonder involved compiling an international bibliography of fairy-tale adaptations, otherwise known as the 'fairy-tale teleography'.  Whether the texts are live-action ballets, televised operas, made-for-television movies, animated series, mini-series, serialized dramas, variety shows, or anthology series, I was tasked with the job of compiling them into a bibliography. The project was intended to provide not just a helpful resource, but also evidence documenting the prevalence and scope of fairy tales on television.

Kirstian: My paper focuses on the representations of fairy tale princes and princesses in two 1990's Japanese anime television series, and how the representations intersect with contemporary issues surrounding gendered norms for Japanese women. I argue that the use of the character of the princess in 1991 series Sailor Moon reflects a renewed interest in depicting women within the traditional framework as primarily good wives and wise mothers, despite womens' changing roles in Japanese society at that time. I read 1997 series Revolutionary Girl Utena as a response to this renewed framework of traditional norms by exploring how it codes it as apocalyptic and how it offers new modes for individual empowerment through its queering of the characters of prince and princess.

How did you get involved with this project?

Kendra: Pauline has been my employer and mentor since 2007. We've collaborated on a number of projects, including an article published in the Journal of Folklore Research (2010) and a forthcoming one in Culture & Tradition. I performed copy-editing duties for her Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife (2008) and Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity (with Sidneyeve Matrix, 2010); I also contributed to her recent book (co-edited with Diane Tye) Unsettling Assumptions: Tradition, Gender, Drag (2014), with a project funded by her SSHRC fairy-tale films research project. It was this same project that took us to Portugal for an international conference at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in 2012. The present project(s) on fairy tales are an extension of these previous projects, but are also the outcome of substantial collaborative efforts from an impressive collection of scholars. I got involved because it provided another stellar opportunity to learn from Pauline's relentless work ethic, as well as network with reputable scholars involved in fairy-tale studies from around the world (from Jack Zipes and Cristina Bacchilega, to Marina Warner and Donald Haase).

Kirstian: In 2012 I was a student in Dr. Greenhill's graduate seminar on transgender fairy tales in popular media, where I had the opportunity to work on this paper.

What are you working on now?

Kendra: In 2011, I was awarded a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship to pursue a research project investigating 'Winnipeg Imaginaries.' The project delves into Winnipeg artistic practice in an attempt to grapple with the ways artists engage in community development. I'm currently in the third year of my PhD at the University of Manitoba. I recently re-designed my program through Interdisciplinary Studies to create a bridge between the department of Peace and Conflict Studies and the department of English, Film, and Theatre. I recently co-authored a number of encyclopedia entries for Jack Zipes' Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, as well as the second edition of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folk and Fairy Tales. Current projects include a co-edited collection of essays with Jack Zipes and Pauline Greenhill; and a cafe called Fools & Horses, opening in 2015.

Kirstian: I'm currently working on a survey of Japanese boys' and girls' anime to try to understand the different ways that animal characters are gendered.

Check out this article featuring Kirstian and Kendra.

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