2022 George Story Lectureship: Dr. Kristina Fagan Bidwell

The George Story Distinguished Lecture Series brings a highly a regarded scholar to Memorial University every year for a guest lecture.

Scholars invited to Memorial as George Story lecturers are academics who have notably enriched the humanities and social sciences through impactful contributions to their field(s) of study.

November 25, 2022 | 7pm

Signal Hill Campus 
Or online at: https://youtu.be/lovX0I_Qpqc

This year’s guest lecturer is Dr. Kristina Fagan Bidwell.

She is a member of NunatuKavut, which represents the Southern Inuit community in Labrador. Dr. Bidwell grew up in Newfoundland, studied English at Memorial, and has been a scholar of Indigenous literatures based at the University of Saskatchewan for over twenty years, most recently as Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Storytelling. She is currently a visiting researcher at Memorial.

Dr. Bidwell will be speaking on the potential pitfalls and benefits of literary collaboration with and between Indigenous people. For this lecture, she will focus on literary collaborations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Indigenous-led collaborations are particularly needed because the reading and study of Indigenous literatures in and from this province is still under-developed relative to other regions of Canada. She argues that this under-development is rooted in the lack of formal recognition of Indigenous people in Newfoundland and Labrador at Confederation, which led to the public erasure of Indigenous voices.

In NL’s unique context, she believes that Indigenous-led literary collaborations have potential to play a transformative role. Her lecture will reflect on the ways in which dominant narratives of Indigenous diminishment motivated historical collaborations with Indigenous people in Newfoundland and Labrador, as seen for example in attempts to record and translate the words of Shanawdithit (Beothuk) and Abraham Ulrikab (Inuit). She will also discuss recent examples of Indigenous-led literary collaborations, such as that between Penashue and Yeoman on the memoir, Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive, and between Mi’kmaq co-authors Chief Mi'sel Joe and Sheila O'Neill on the novel, My Indian, both of which powerfully assert Indigenous presence. 

She will conclude by looking towards the future and to the ways in which Indigenous-led collaborations can allow the leveraging of existing strengths and resources in the province to amplify Indigenous literary voices, thus challenging the historic erasure of Indigenous people from the provincial narrative. Literary collaborations also allow the telling of Indigenous stories in ways that can reach across political barriers and conflicts, restoring and building relationships between Indigenous peoples.

"Literary collaborations with Indigenous people – and, crucially, between Indigenous people – offer ways to challenge our historical erasure, restore our relations, and transform communities in Newfoundland and Labrador for the better."