Posts Tagged: featured


MONDAY – FRIDAY, February 10-14, 2020
PUB 900
9:00 am-5:00 pm
Room 2270
Fee: $725 CDN (includes all course materials)
Max. 20 participants (in addition to 15 graduate students in publishing)

Whether it is informing print runs or underpinning marketing strategies, data has long played a role in publishing houses. Increasingly, data is becoming a key part of day-to-day operations. In the 2020 Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit we will look at each step in the publishing process from the perspective of the information and statistics gathered through online activity and from publishing analytics services such as BookNet Canada.

As innovative technologies have evolved, publishing has become more global and interconnected , which means to stay competitive and to grow audiences of readers, Canadian publishers need to be agile and able to quickly navigate markets. Successfully capturing and exploiting data is a key part of this. Canada has been at the forefront of many International initiatives and has carved out space in leading companies worldwide.

This unique week featuring authors, publishers and academics, delves deep into the use of data writ large and small.

Last year we looked at how have Canadian publishing professionals helped build Canada’s place in media companies around the world. 

Last The year before that we looked at how the explosion of podcasts and increased production of audio books were impacting publishing practices including acquisitions. 

This year, panel discussions, lectures, and conversations will flow from the broader theme of Data: Writ Large and Small in the world of publishing, in Canada and Internationally. Each day opens with lectures led by top industry professionals followed by afternoon break out brainstorming sessions and one-on-one mentoring opportunities.

This immersive workshop will set the stage for future collaborations between industry and academic instructors and both credit students and industry participants.


Cevin Bryerman is the publisher and executive vice president of Publishers Weekly, the international news platform of the book publishing industry. He has been in the publishing business for more than 25 years, working at the helm of both trade and consumer magazines in strategic planning, business development and strategic partnerships. Over the span of his career, he has worked on many publications, including Boating Industry and Waterway Guides, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Variety, Modern Bride, American Baby and others.


Noah Genner is CEO & President at BookNet Canada. Noah has an extensive background in independent bookselling, software and business development. As the leader of BookNet Canada he orchestrates a skilled team of technical, policy-oriented and client-focused staff to provide new data management services and supply-chain initiatives to the Canadian publishing and book retail sectors.


Kevin Hanson is President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada. He is responsible for all of the sales, marketing, financial, and operations activities of Simon & Schuster Canada, the exclusive distributor in Canada of the book and audio products of both Simon & Schuster and Simon & Schuster U.K., as well as for Simon & Schuster’s roster of U.S. distribution clients. Kevin came to Simon & Schuster from HarperCollins Publishers of Canada, where he had held the position of Vice President, Sales and Marketing since 2002.  Prior to that, he had been Chief Operating Officer of Madison Press Books. Kevin has also served in executive sales and marketing positions at Penguin Books Canada Limited, Quantum Book Group, Macmillan Canada, and Key Porter Books. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of Alberta and he holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Toronto.  He is the current Chair of the Cultural Human Resources Council and was past Chair of the Canadian Publishers Council. Kevin is an adjunct professor in the publishing program at Simon Fraser University.

Rania Husseini is Senior Vice President of Print at Indigo Books & Music. Rania creates and implements the vision, strategy and direction for the overall Print business within Indigo stores and online.  She is responsible for finding creative and innovative ways to grow and support overall brand objectives for the Print business and acts as an advocate for the customer by placing them at the forefront of all assortment and curation decisions. Rania has an extensive background in bookselling and most recently was the Vice President of Retail Customer Experience and Operations at Indigo Books & Music.

Ruth Linka worked for various publishers in Western Canada, including Raincoast Books and NeWest Press before co-founding Brindle & Glass in Alberta in 2001. She now works at Orca Book Publishers in Victoria. Ruth currently serves on the Victoria Book Prize board and has served on the board of the Association of Book Publishers of BC, the Literary Press Group of Canada, the Book Publishers of Alberta, and various community theatres and projects. 


Ryan McMahon is a professional funny person. He talksyells writes & makes digital media art for a living. When not doing comedy, Ryan is probably recording Red Man Laughing, planning for Stories From The Land, building Indian & Cowboy or setting the ground work for the Makoons Media Group. Ryan started Makoons Media Group to telling Indigenous stories to worldwide audiences, including Indian & Cowboy, the world’s only listener-supported Indigenous podcast media network. His podcasting work with Red Man Laughing & Stories From The Land, as well as his role in Canadaland Commons has made Ryan a major voice in Canada and beyond.

Judith Pereira joined The Globe and Mail in 2001 while doing her Masters in Publishing at Simon Fraser University. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. Aside from a stint working as a features editor for, she has worked at Report on Business magazine first as a researcher/writer and eventually as their managing editor. She won one gold and three silver National Magazine Awards, plus several honourable mentions with the magazine. She started as the Globe’s books editor in January, 2019.


Nita Pronovost joined Simon & Schuster Canada as Editorial Director in February 2015. Before that, she worked for six years as a senior editor at Penguin Random House Canada. Under the Doubleday Canada imprint, she acquired and edited a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction, and celebrity-driven titles, including eight #1 national bestsellers in three years. She was nominated for Canadian Booksellers’ Association’s Editor of the Year Award in 2013. Nita actively acquires women’s upmarket commercial novels, suspense/psychological thrillers, literary-commercial crossover, historical fiction, memoirs, and notable debuts.


Felicia Quon is Vice President Marketing & Publicity, Simon & Schuster Canada. She provides strategic leadership and vision in the development & execution of multi-tiered marketing campaigns for adult & children’s fiction and non-fiction titles for multiple channels. Her expertise is in building creative big picture projects with innovative digital marketing and social media components.


Pieter Swinkels is the Chief Content Officer at Rakuten Kobo, a global leader in digital reading. Pieter is responsible for the growth of Kobo’s worldwide content catalog and driving business relationships with publishers, agents and authors. In addition, his responsibilities include expanding the Kobo Writing Life self-publishing platform, expanding the Kobo Plus subscriptions service, and continuing to build out the Kobo Originals program of new and exclusive eBooks, audiobooks and podcast content. Pieter formerly held the role of Executive Vice President of Publisher Relations and Content. Prior to joining Rakuten Kobo in 2011, Pieter worked in the international publishing industry, most notably as Publisher at De Bezige Bij in Amsterdam.

Three Questions My Audience Asked at My Talk on Podcasting as Feminist Method

Publishing @ SFU Instructor Hannah McGregor Answers Questions About Accessibility, Peer Review, and Audience Backlash During Her Presentation Green College, UBC

During the Q&A period for her October 3, 2019 presentation at Green College (UBC), SFU’s own Hannah McGregor, Assistant Professor of Publishing, elaborated on the potential and pitfalls of her podcasting work, both as a feminist and a scholar. Speaking at length on a range of questions from the audience, McGregor spoke with characteristic levity and intimacy about difficult subjects. McGregor’s presentation was centred upon the possibilities of scholarly accountability when podcasting is employed as a feminist method, and led to questions about accessibility, the peer review process, and navigating backlash when producing high risk public work.

Hannah McGregor is an Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, where her research focuses on podcasting as scholarly communication, systemic barriers to access in the Canadian publishing industry, and magazines as middlebrow media. She is the co-creator of Witch, Please, a feminist podcast on the Harry Potter world, and the creator of the weekly podcast Secret Feminist Agenda, which is currently undergoing an experimental peer review process with Wilfrid Laurier University Press. She is also the co-editor of the book Refuse: CanLit in Ruins (Book*hug 2018).

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Q: If podcasts do become an acceptable academic endeavor, do they become [institutionalized and de-radicalized inherently]? Is there a possibility they will be put in a position of less accessibility, just like journals are today (e.g. paywall, jargon, etc)?

HM: For sure, such is the endless hunger of the institution, right? That it takes anything that’s, like, interesting and it’s like [chomp!] “It’s mine now! It’s mine now and guess what it’s in the university so it’s bad now!”… So yes, absolutely, we need to think about institutionalization and the impact that it has, and we need to think about, whether or not, you know, podcasting will just get sucked into exactly the same systems… which is why it’s been really important to me in this project to make my podcasts as podcasts first – that they live on the open web; are published and circulated via RSS feeds; are accessible everywhere [to anybody] who would get podcasts; are never paywalled;…you don’t have to know how to access scholarly systems in order to find them – you find them the way you find podcasts. And that has been really fundamental to me, that “I am making a podcast, and then we are peer reviewing it,” rather than “I am doing scholarship, and then we’re putting it onto a podcast.”

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Q: I was just starting to think about the difference between public and your peers, and I just wonder if you have plans in the next season for trying to challenge who are considered “peers” and sending [an invitation to critically review your podcast] out to the public…as opposed to waiting until people come to you?

HM: We actually did that in Season 1. So right up front, I was way more skeptical about peer reviewing the podcast than Siobhan was, [who had] great faith in peer review as an actual mechanism to make work better… via the process of this project, I have come on board … because the peer reviews that I’ve received have [been] so genuinely helpful. So at the end of Season 1 [of Secret Feminist Agenda], I put out a call to my listeners to say, “I would like a peer review from you, and here are my three questions… please post your responses in the comments.” And I got, like, 75-80 responses, from people… answering the questions and thinking it through, and really explicitly saying that they loved being involved in the process… [and of being told] that I was thinking of them as public and peers… I asked for that again at the end of Season 2 and got very little response… (and I didn’t even try it at the end of Season 3). And the reason [for the little response] I think, is that I now have an active and ongoing engagement with my listenership such that they’re giving me that feedback constantly, right? They are responding to episodes, they are asking me questions, they are commenting, they’re suggesting readings… so that interaction is now… just now an iterative part of how I engage with my listeners and they engage with me.

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Q: I was thinking about a public who does come to your podcast with very aggressive anti-feminist agenda. As scholars we’re [expected to make our scholarship accessible, [but] we’re not really given training on dealing with [that backlash]…what are your thoughts on the drawback of doing scholarship publically on this subject?

HM: So we are increasingly demanding that academics do our work publicly – particularly young graduate students…[are pressured to], like “be public! Be public facing! Be on Twitter! Be out doing things! Be in the media!” and then it’s like, “but if people get mad at you… you’ve got nothing”… We want people to be public until there’s any consequences to the publicness of their work… We need to have better conversations about how departments can support faculty members when there is backlash for their work… The more that we are interested in engaging publics, the more we need to understand what the consequences look like when we do that work.
What I will say is that…for the most part, podcasts are very hard to troll. [They] are significantly less trolled than a lot of other media, and there’s one really good reason for that – and that is that you cannot, like, command+F and look for words that make you angry in a podcast recording. And that’s mostly what people are doing when they’re trolling women’s public work, or public feminist work, right? They’re looking for the word “feminist”…they’re looking for words that make them mad, finding that word, and then going after you based on that word, and you can’t do that with a podcast—you would have to listen to it. And the fun thing about misogynists is that they don’t want to listen to women talk! So, it’s like, it’s great! All of my ideas are hidden here in my lady voice! And you would have to listen to it, to like, get to the ideas!

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If you’re interested in getting the kind of education in publishing that allows for challenging yourself and others, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st.

12 Completely Made-Up Books Created by 2019’s Master of Publishing Students

Every year, graduate students of the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University present their fall book projects in a format that instructor Scott Steedman describes as “sales conference meets thesis defences with a bit of Dragon’s Den and Canada’s Got Talent thrown in.” The public is invited to attend, though the total audience doesn’t usually exceed thirty or forty people. The students’ presentations are critiqued by three panelists from the book publishing industry. This year (2019), the panel included Vici Johnstone, publisher of Caitlin Press and Dagger Editions; Iolanda Millar, Account Manager, British Columbia, Yukon & Northern Territories at Manda Group; and Mike Leyne, editor at Figure 1 Publishing, in addition to operating a micro-press.

Below are the highlights of the presentation. Given that the majority of books the students conceptualize include real-life authors with real-life careers, Publishing @ SFU has scrubbed all author names from this recap article. Likewise, we can’t display the cover art for the concept books for the same reason. 

Please note: all references to real literary organizations, awards, and world instances are entirely made-up/fictitious, created to simulate a “real world” industry experience in book publishing for the Master of Publishing students.

RISE: A Concept Imprint of Canadian Book Publisher, Greystone Books

Katia, Amy, Vishakha, Lakota, and Melissa made up the team at RISE, a concept imprint of of Greystone Books. According to their printed catalogue, required in both the MPub’s educational setting as well as in the real world of the book publishing industry, RISE endeavours to “bring exciting emerging voices to the forefront on pressing societal issues.” They remain steadfast to Greystone’s environmentally conscientious production mandate. RISE publishes accessible non-fiction titles about feminism, climate action, LGBTQ topics, immigration, race, and celebrating differences. We champion underrepresented perspectives and often introduce humour and hope even when there may seem to be no light. 

Their concept books included:

  • Where Are You Really From?: 10 Cultures. 10 Lives. 10 Canadians, an anthology of experiences by ten young, first- and second-generation Canadians edited by a Canadian journalist who also anchors for CBC News as well as award-winning Canadian poet and short story writer.
  • Be Gay, Do Comedy: A Memoir of Getting the Hell Out of Your Small Town, written by an award-winning Canadian comedienne. This book was presented as an intimate, hilarious exploration of growing up queer in a small town and coming into her own in the big city in this unforgettable memoir.
  • Swipe Wrong: Hookups, Heartbreaks, and the Horrors of Modern Dating: hilarious online dating horror stories from the creator of the viral social media account who also launched a YouTube Channel and her own line of swag.
  • Earth is Enough, a personal collection of ecopoetry that unearths heartbreak and hope in the wake of the 2013 Alberta floods. While in this case the author wasn’t a real person, RISE created a stand-in author with a history of writing poetry, some award-winning, who would have had a direct link to the natural disaster that bases this book.

Aranea: A Concept Imprint of Canadian Book Publisher, House of Anansi Press

Kankana, Emily, Lauren, Mahima, and Nadya make up Aranea Press, home to established and emerging authors experimenting with their voice. Through their compelling stories, they focus a constructive lens on the toughest sociocultural issues facing young Canadians today and invite their readers to learn more about our national community.

Their concept books included:

  • Fit to be Tied, the first novel by a very accomplished nonfiction writer of Polish and Ojibwe descent that tackles the ongoing practice of forced sterilization of Indigenous women. Borrowing from true stories and writing in the haunting voice of a victim-turned-survivor, the author brings to life the insidious crimes perpetrated in past and present time.
  • Women Aren’t Funny (And Other Jokes): Comic Takes on Cultural Calamities from Canada’s Funniest Femmes is an anthology including ten Canadian comedians who explore contemporary culture, intersectionality, and how women are taking over—both onstage and off. This book is edited by the co-creator of a hit female-fronted sketch comedy series and includes a foreword by a popular late-night talk show host(ess).
  • Splintered Spirits is a graphic novel written by an award-winning Oji-Cree poet about Dakwaa, an Oji-Cree Indigiqueer teen, is at his wits’ end being bullied by his peers who don’t understand his identity. A chance encounter with a two-spirit Cree Elder helps him find his place in the all-but-forgotten history of two-spirit peoples across Turtle Island.
  • Mending from Within is a novel appealing to Millennial and Generation Z readers’ interested in zero-waste and anti-fast fashion ethics. The author is recognized by her works in The Walrus and Refinery29 for her sustainable designs and activism against the fast-fashion industry.

Aisling Press: A Concept Imprint of Canadian Book Publisher, Biblioasis

Ryann, Amy, Anastasia, Ashley, Hailey, and Paige created Aisling Press to “provide an inclusive and supportive environment for writers to engage their audiences in broad conversations about contemporary social issues such as feminism, Indigenous rights, and mental health.” 

Their concept books included:

  • Unmasked: My Ancestor’s Spirit. His Transformation Mask. Our Fight for Repatriation. This memoir of an Indigenous elder contextualizes the controversy around colonial theft of Kwakiutl culture and the subsequent repatriation process. With an 8 page insert containing 12 photos, this paperback book saw sales potential in the trade and educational market.
  • Herland: A Graphic Novel is an adapted Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s vision of a feminist utopia come to life (see the original here). This new edition features beautiful illustrations from the illustrator of a popular, Canadian graphic novel released in 2019. It would be the first in the Aisling Press series, Feminist Graphic Classics.
  • Comeback Polka is a novel about a young woman who stumbles across a busker with an accordion at Toronto’s Bloor-Yonge subway station—who turns out to be an old music teacher of hers. 
  • Waken is a powerful, must-read poetry debut by a Tsilhqot’in writer, editor, and storyteller that addresses issues plaguing Indigenous youth, from homelessness and addiction to the fight to keep tradition alive. With a striking cover, this book certainly jumps off the shelf.

If you’re interested in getting the kind of education in publishing that allows for cultural analysis, historical reflection, and diving deep into imaginary worlds, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st.

Introducing Dr. Amanda Lastoria, the First Publishing PhD in North America

Dr. Amanda Lastoria’s PhD Defence at SFU Vancouver Harbour Centre on The Material Evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: How Book Design and Production Values Impact the Markets for and the Meanings of the Text

Amanda Lastoria has earned North America’s first Ph.D. in Publishing (Simon Fraser University). She also holds an MA in Publishing (Oxford Brookes University), a BA in French/Arts and Culture (SFU) and a Diploma in Arts Management (University of London). Amanda’s research is critically informed by more than a decade of professional experience in the publishing industry. She has worked as an in-house employee and freelance contractor in a variety of roles, from production editor and production controller to copyeditor and proofreader to business manager and associate publisher. Amanda has worked on, for example, academic books, an online educational platform, an arts magazine, general interest ebooks and high-end trade books for companies in England, America and Canada. Her employers and clients have included both independent and multi-national houses like The Folio Society, Taylor & Francis/Routledge, Macmillan, and Random House, as well as self-publishers, a start-up imprint and a non-profit organization. Amanda is also former Editor of Lewis Carroll Review, and she has developed the standard list of titles for John Tenniel’s iconic Alice illustrations. Amanda is currently the Regional Liaison Officer to Canada for the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP).

On November 13, 2019, Dr. Amanda Lastoria successfully defended her interdisciplinary doctoral research, which explores the materiality of the book and the “material evolution” of the title. Lastoria uses multiple editions of a single title – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – as a case study through which she develops a critical understanding of the title’s positions in the market on the one hand, and the ways in which design and production values contribute to the creation of meaning on the other hand.

Addressing what she sees as a “lack of scholarship that rigorously investigates the look and feel of the book,” Lastoria analyzes 46 editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, tracing 150 years of the title’s “material evolution” through Anglo-American markets.

Using a combination of methods and tools – bibliography, book history, publishing history and literary theory – Lastoria documents, historicizes and interrogates the book’s power as a commodity. Lastoria takes us on a journey as we follow Alice through the title’s many incarnations and learn of the ways in which the design and production values are at once an echo and an aberration of Lewis Carroll’s original art direction. Lastoria concludes, “Alice, like all books, ought to be judged by its cover – and its paper, typography, ink, bind, endpapers, dustjacket and so forth” so that we can better understand “how the book targets a market and encodes a meaning.”

With gratitude, acknowledgements for this esteemed accomplishment go to Lastoria’s supervisors:  Prof. John Maxwell, Publishing; Prof. Michael Everton, English; and Prof. Stuart Poyntz, Communication; and to her examiners: Prof. Teal Triggs, Graphic Design, Royal College of Art; Prof. Michelle Levy, English.

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If you’re interested in getting the kind of education in publishing that allows you to dive deep into the history of publishing, or develop a scholarship that is as playful as it is rigorous, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st.

Move Over, Archie Andrews: Dr. Teal Triggs Speaks to Katy Keene Fandom, Zines and the Politics of Participation

Professor of Graphic Design in the School of Communication at the Royal College of Art, London, Dr. Teal Triggs presents the comic book world of Katy Keene at Emily Carr University’s Reliance Theatre

On November 14th, 2019, self-described graphic design historian Dr. Teal Triggs delivered a presentation on the comic book world of Katy Keene (1945-1961), a unique American character created by Bill Woggon. While Triggs’ research is usually on the graphic language of British punk and riot grrrl fanzines, for this presentation Triggs takes us further back into the history of fandom, gleaning insight from the documentation that comics fan magazines provide. Of particular interest for Triggs is the relationship between Woggon and Katy’s fanbase, and the ways in which Woggon actively engaged fans to contribute to the graphic design and storylines, breaking down barriers between comic artists and fans to create an “extended family” and participatory culture for Katy Keene that would span the decades all the way up to the present day.

This event was presented by Publishing @ SFU in partnership with the Vancouver Art Book Fair, Graphic Research Group, READ Books and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Teal Triggs is Professor of Graphic Design in the School of Communication, Royal College of Art, London. As a graphic design historian, critic and educator her writings have appeared in numerous edited books and international design publications. Her research focuses primarily on design pedagogy, criticism, self-publishing. She is Associate Editor of Design Issues (MIT Press) and was founding Editor-in-Chief of Communication Design (Taylor & Francis/ico-D). Her recent books include: co-editor of The Graphic Design Reader (Bloomsbury), author of Fanzines (Thames & Hudson), and the children’s book The School of Art (Wide Eyed). She is a Fellow of the International Society of Typographic Designers, Royal College of Art and Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Dr. Triggs was in Vancouver to examine North America’s very first Publishing PhD candidate, Amanda Lastoria.

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Comic book glamour girl Katy Keene was first published by Archie Comics in 1945, created to appeal to a growing female comic readership. Her girl-next-door appeal lent her a certain accessibility, while her blend of ambition and fashion-consciousness represented an image of femininity that women were encouraged to strive for in post-war America. 

While independent career woman like Katy Keene are recurring figures of imagination in the history of comic strips, Triggs sets out to show us that what sets Katy apart from the pack is the intimate relationship between her world and her fans, who were regularly invited to submit their own designs for everything from Katy’s clothes to her house and car. This intimacy was cultivated in large part by her creator Bill Woggon, who sought authenticity by inviting and publishing not only these design submissions, but also fan mail and photographs and biographies of fans, cultivating a unique and loyal fan club for Katy Keene. 

Triggs paints a picture of the historical context and field of influence that led Woggon to create Katy Keene in the way that he did, to demonstrate not only how, but also why “Katy was different.” Woggon models Katy’s family on his own, and as Triggs tells us, “this notion of family ran deep in the storylines”, with Katy’s family and various boyfriends all featuring prominently in the comic, but also Woggon himself who talks from out of the panel directly to his fanbase, encouraging them to send in designs for Katy and her friends, comprising an extended family. By providing opportunities for fans to become part of the family and participate in ways that affected her actual character development, Woggon was not only breaking down barriers between the real world and Katy’s fantasy world, but between himself and fans of his work (many of whom would go on to become successful designers, illustrators and writers themselves). 

Using the specific example of the banter between Woggon and his own comic book characters that regularly features on the opening page of each comic, Triggs explains, “the dialogue which features in the panels between the photographed Woggon and the drawn and inked comic characters collapses the imaginary and the reality of the reader’s worlds.” This fierce devotion and real-life interaction between Katy’s image and her fans would later culminate in the creation of the Katy Keene Fan Magazine by Craig Leavitt, which ran for 18 issues through the 1980s, and this led to a resurgence of interest in the character for a whole new generation of would-be artists, designers and writers. Being a fanzine, Leavitt’s publication continues Woggon’s project true to form, featuring design, artwork, and storylines contributed by the ever-growing fanbase.

Triggs points to ways in which both “everydayness”, and a sense of luxury at the same time, was of particular importance to engendering this participatory fan culture, through which readers could respond to calls for designs for every last aspect of Katy’s life, even Katy’s design firm itself. Quoting Leavitt himself, to describe the allure, who said in 1978: “I learned diversity through Katy. Every single thing needed to be designed—cars, houses, gowns, lampshades, even the poetry and jokes…Katy represented everything I didn’t have—everything wonderful.”

The Katy Keene comic regularly featured tremendously popular paper dolls of Katy and her many fashionable ensembles, and colouring options, furthering the malleability of the original Katy Keene comic into fanzine form, infinitely reproducible and re-imaginable by her aspiring artist and designer fans. While Katy Keene never moved beyond contemporary female roles, Triggs encourages us to see Katy as a feminist role model who, as a designer herself, is in control and gives her readers and fans “permission to imagine alternative futures”.

If you’re interested in getting the kind of education in publishing that allows for cultural analysis, historical reflection, and diving deep into imaginary worlds, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st. 

Bonus: Did you know Katy Keene is being revived for a new audience in 2020? Here’s the trailer below:

Podcasting as Feminist Method: Publishing @ SFU Prof Hannah McGregor Speaks to Scholarly Communication and Research at Green College, UBC

On October 3, 2019, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, Hannah McGregor spoke on how podcasting as a scholarly method opens out new possibilities not just for the reach of our work but for the nature of the work itself, especially in its emergence as a feminist method. Through its facilitation of scholarly accountability to multiple publics, its challenges to institutionality, as well as the space it builds for grappling with ideas without arriving at conclusions, podcasting may help to shift the ecosystem of scholarship such that new forms of scholarly thinking are made possible. This talk took place at Green College, UBC.

Hannah McGregor is an Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, where her research focuses on podcasting as scholarly communication, systemic barriers to access in the Canadian publishing industry, and magazines as middlebrow media. She is the co-creator of Witch, Please, a feminist podcast on the Harry Potter world, and the creator of the weekly podcast Secret Feminist Agenda, which is currently undergoing an experimental peer review process with Wilfrid Laurier University Press. She is also the co-editor of the book Refuse: CanLit in Ruins (Book*hug 2018).

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“This is not quite a talk about podcasts”

McGregor speaks to how her early adoption of podcasting was something she at first considered “rash”, “silly”, and even in the ballpark of “career suicide”, but later came to view as a new form of scholarship.

Like many radical breakthroughs, it was discontentment that led Hannah McGregor into uncharted territory in 2015, while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. “Every three years or so I become dissatisfied with the structural limitations of the work I can do from within the university: whether it’s the mundane abuses of power that shape many student-supervisor relationships, the hypocrisy of critics who build a career on theorizing violence while unthinkingly perpetuating it in their own actions, or the conservative limitations on how we can think and write and teach, academia has been, for me, a series of disappointments.”

It was this dissatisfaction with academia that led McGregor to do something “rash”. She started a podcast. Witch, Please was, in her words, “a very silly podcast about Harry Potter. I mean very silly, like owl-hoot sound effects silly, like extensive jokes about pegging silly, like drinking a bottle of wine and laughing ourselves sick and editing out exactly zero of our own laughter silly.” And yet, something magical happened. As McGregor put it, “little did I know, podcasting would be a departure point for me in rethinking my relationship to the university and to my own work as a scholar.”

McGregor’s partner in crime through all this is Marcelle Kosman, also a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. Their rough takes on the material were as improvisational as they were collaborative. McGregor recounts that during recording, having to share a single microphone passed back and forth was “an accidentally feminist technique that forced us to give one another space and time to really articulate a thought.” 

Looking back at Witch, Please, McGregor recognizes how what she and Kosman did for fun was in fact feminist co-creation of knowledge—not because of the subject matter per say, but because of the lessons it taught them that traditional academic institutions did not. “The space of the podcast let me first experiment in, and gradually learn to articulate something about what I think of as a fundamentally feminist research method: research not just as and through creation, but research as and through collaborative co-creation with other feminist thinkers. “

Hannah McGregor, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University (left), John Paul (JP) Catungal, Assistant Professor, Social Justice Institute (right)

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“When I begin to expand this thinking about women’s voices from the literal to the metaphorical, the way that feminist and queer communities for example share information, it quickly becomes clear that our modes of expression are invalidated at every turn.” 

McGregor speaks to the prevalence of misogyny in the media, down to the policing of how women speak.

McGregor relates an anecdote in which she and Kosman were invited onto CBC Edmonton AM to discuss the relatively fewer numbers of women than men in podcasting, where they argued that women are deflected from hosting podcasts in large part because of “the policing of women’s voices for things like upspeak and vocal fry,” two vocal inflections commonly attributed to women that are routinely used to demean or invalidate the content of their speech. The host of the show responded to their critique, or as McGregor quips “one might call it mansplaining were one so inclined”, that vocal fry is bad for your voice. McGregor summarizes, “So thanks, I guess, for making our point for us?”

Referencing the work of writer and podcast host Ann Friedman in her book Can We Just, Like, Get Over the Way Women Talk?, McGregor exposes the “impossible bind” women are placed in when asked to occupy a position that shows more confidence than they might even have, while also refraining from an “unbecoming” display of confidence that might threaten the status quo. “If we speak too loudly we’re being bitches, but if we speak too quietly we lack authority. If we share information via a whisper network we’re being sneaky but if we state harm publicly we’re sued for defamation. It’s almost like every way that minoritized communities find to articulate ourselves is wrong.”

– – – – – – – – –

“I wanted to find out how it felt for me to really do my scholarship and my feminism out loud and in public.”

McGregor’s not-so-secret feminist agenda is to model a less violent way of speaking that includes listening and accountability.

Despite being almost entirely out of production, Witch, Please has around 20,000 subscribers, and many of these committed fans supported McGregor’s next project, Secret Feminist Agenda. McGregor muses on the reception of her work, “It often surprises me when listeners to Secret Feminist Agenda refer to it as a positive or optimistic podcast; I talk about white supremacy, anti-Indigenous and anti-Black violence, rape culture, and mental health crises, to name a few recurring topics. It has taken me a while to realize that the positivity people are naming is this refusal of the agonistic approach, in which I prove how smart I am by tearing down the ideas of others in a mad scramble to be the most unique, the most critical thinker. It has taken me years of this work to realize that what feels radical about it, for me, is the way it models a different way to do scholarly thinking.”

With accountability and sustainability top of mind, McGregor has set an intention to practice a form of scholarship capable of listening and learning “from what listeners had to say, and adapted, and apologized, and changed without trying to erase the past.” She does so through interviews with feminists of all stripes, because as she poignantly reminds us, “spending too much time away from other feminists can mess with us; we start to second guess gendered micro-aggressions, worry we’re reading too much into an interaction, wonder if maybe we’re just being too emotional. But thinking along with other feminists also pushes me to think differently, transformatively.” 

– – – – – – – – –

“I am publicly, vulnerably, doing scholarship wrong. Or at least I’m trying.”

McGregor unpacks the power of language, the privilege of academia, and the complexity of conversation.

In a moment of reflection, McGregor admits that right now she has it pretty good. “I have a job as an Assistant Professor in a department of Publishing, where my colleagues are excited and enthusiastic about non-traditional scholarship. And I get to make podcasts, and think about making podcasts, as a central part of my work. And that publicness and vulnerability and doing-it-wrongness that characterized my first forays into podcasting has become my scholarly identity.”

With this power comes responsibility, to her listeners and to feminist scholarship, a charge McGregor does not take lightly. Recognizing the importance of minimizing harm in the space of public speaking, McGregor acknowledges that “Language hurts people. We learn to inure ourselves to it…but we who are used to this harm are desperate, too, for spaces where we can let our guard down and trust that we will be unharmed, or if harmed, that harm will be acknowledged, nurtured.”

For McGregor this means a breaking open of the space for “conversations that are built collectively, accountably, polyphonically, don’t end. They continue to build and become more complex over time, and inevitably they repeat as new people enter the conversation.” In this newly created space, the task ahead now is to populate the conversation with as many diverse thinkers and speakers as possible, and this means it is up to us.

If you’re interested in getting the kind of education in publishing that allows for ground-breaking, irreverent, uncompromising commitment to your values, and amplifying marginalized voices, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st. 

Hannah McGregor, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University (left), John Paul (JP) Catungal, Assistant Professor, Social Justice Institute (right)

Biking to Publishing School

Bikes at SFU Harbour Centre

There are a lot of good reasons to cycle: it’s good for the planet, it’s good for cities and their congestion problems, and it’s good for you. We thought to take a look at cycling in the MPub program: why we do it and how we do it, and maybe we’ll encourage you to do it too!

Half the Publishing faculty are regular cycle commuters, and a good (though variable) number of students are too. Those of us who do ride know that it’s the best way to get around, for a number of reasons.

Why cycle?

Vancouver’s cycling infrastructure has developed hugely over the past half-dozen years,1 and there are good cycle routes through most of the city. The number of cyclists has grown accordingly, which is good not just for the planet, but also because more cyclists on the road makes cycling safer, as the people in Copenhagen and Amsterdam know well.

Commuting by bike is well established by research2 as one of the single best things you can do for your health. It also has the advantage of not taking up extra time in your day. You could take the bus and then take time to go to the gym; or you could just ride your bike!

Regular exercise is good for your heart and lungs of course, but it’s also very good for your head, which is especially helpful for students in the Vancouver winter—which tends to wet and dark as opposed to cold and snowy. Getting into a regular routine of riding every day gets your blood pumping, opens up your sinuses, and gives you an outlet for the stresses that otherwise pile up when we live and work indoors. Additionally, many of us find that commuting by bike gives a sense of agency and control that we miss when we’re dependent on transit schedules and crowds. Emma (MPub 2017) notes, “Have you ever been trapped on an overcrowded bus on a rainy day? Once you get your rain routine down, you will choose cycling over transit no matter the weather.”

Don’t I need special clothing?

You really don’t. While it sometimes seems like cyclists have to invest in a fluorescent lyrca outfit, this isn’t actually the case. You can totally commute in your regular clothes. Of course some clothes are going to be more comfortable than others, but you do not need fancy gear.

In Vancouver, you probably do need some waterproofing, at least if you’re going to ride on rainy days. You’ll need a good raincoat (one with pit-zips help with the internal humidity), a pair of waterproof rain pants, and a pair of gloves–the sum of which make you feel kind of invincible on a rainy day! But that’s about all you really need. And if it isn’t raining, you don’t even need those.

Won’t I get sweaty?

SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus is, as the name suggests, near the water downtown, so it’s downhill from almost everywhere – which means sweat likely isn’t a big problem on your way to school. Some of us like to bring a change of shirt and socks in our bags. Depending on where you live, you may have to go uphill to get home, so you’re more likely to sweat at the end of the day than the beginning. And if you want to get a little sweaty—and ride for the sake of it—SFU Harbour Centre has great access to the Stanley Park Seawall.

Everything inside the circle on this map is probably within a half-hour bike ride from Harbour Centre Campus. Plus, within this circle, you are almost certainly faster than buses and cars, which can’t get through traffic effectively. You can have a look at Vancouver’s cycle routes by turning on that layer on Google Maps, or by checking out the City of Vancouver’s website. We all like to share our tips about the best ways to get around the city: which routes are the flattest, quietest, prettiest… and so on.

I don’t even have a (good) bike!

This is solvable on a number of levels. First, Vancouver has, per capita, the most bike shops in Canada.3 Second, excellent community resources like Our Community Bikes and Kickstand offer really inexpensive, accessible refurbished bikes and repair service. There are also cheap bikes available on Craigslist, online marketplaces, or pawn shops. Vancouver has also implemented the Mobi bike rental system, where you can pickup and drop off bikes at convenient spots all over town. You’re never far from a shop or an available bike, really.

You don’t need a fancy bike; they’re theft targets anyway. What you need is a bike with at least three gears and working brakes. You do need a good lock, because university campuses are always bike theft magnets. At Harbour Centre there is also a bicycle lock-up room to which, with your student card, you can get a key. 

But is it safe?

Yes, but you have to be thoughtful about it, and to know and anticipate the risks.

For starters you need lights! A good front light (white) and a red one for the rear help you see and be seen on the road after dark. Lights are an essential, mandatory bit of safety kit—and which go nicely with reflective strips, panels, and bits of clothing. A reflective safety vest can be had pretty cheaply and may make you feel a good deal more visible on a dark, wet evening. 

By law you need a helmet, which, if nothing else, can also provide some protection from the rain. A ball cap under your helmet helps keep the rain off your glasses.

Vancouver’s bike lanes and paths—the fully separated ones and the painted-on ones—make cycling through the city much safer. But even the streets you share with cars are better now than they used to be, because the number of cyclists has risen, and so bikes are a normal part of everyday traffic in the city. 

Knowing how to ride safely is important too. Using proper hand signals when turning, being visible, and being polite and clear when passing people makes a big difference. This is about co-existing with cars but also about co-existing with other cyclists, especially in the warmer months when bikes almost seem to outnumber cars at certain intersections. 

And if you don’t feel like biking back home because you’re leaving campus really late at night after working on Book Project 😉 the bus or skytrain will allow you to bring your bike on board!

Learning more about cycling in Vancouver

There are a number of advocacy groups in the city, such as Hub Cycling, who organize the twice-annual bike-to-work-week events. The City itself is relatively pro-active. And of course every bike shop in town also advocates for cycling more generally.

Here in Publishing@SFU, we have a strong cycling culture of our own, which we like to promote (which is why you’re reading this now). We love to share our ideas about bikes and gear and riding, and our love for People’s Poncho cycling capes, Vessi waterproof footwear, Sidesaddle, a women-focused bike shop, and more. We like to trade info about bike routes and the best ways to get around. And we like to egg each other on to ride in wetter, darker weather each winter 🙂 Get in touch! 

Thanks to Mauve Pagé, Avvai Ketheeswaran, Alice Fleerackers, Emma Walter. and Leanne Johnson for their input into this article!

  2. See, for example, this 2016 review article↩︎