We are mourning the loss of Ralph Hancox, noted Canadian editor, publishing icon and former Chairman of Reader’s Digest Canada, and one of the founders of the Master of Publishing Program at SFU.
Victoria, British Columbia – 26 March 2017 – The family announces the recent death of Ralph Hancox, latterly from Victoria, British Columbia, on 22 March 2017 at the fine age of 87.
Colleagues and friends refer to Ralph as a remarkable man of letters, of sharp wit and humour, a classic gentleman. He was one who willingly pushed a car out of a snow bank, helped others in formative stages to launch executive careers, held court with an audience and shared sage advice and counsel. The legacy he leaves behind with colleagues, students and family is the gift of using the written word to entertain and improve the lives of those who remain.
Ralph was born in West Hamstead, England on 23 August 1929. Ralph attended the School of Modern Languages, Regent Street Polytechnic in London, where he mastered Pitman shorthand, a prerequisite skill for his early career in journalism. He arrived in Canada in 1955 with his new bride, Margaret (Peg) Frier, newborn daughter Linda and a vintage German Olympia typewriter in hand. His exceptional typing skills of 125 wpm, his sharp and inquisitive mind were tools that launched an iconic career in journalism that spanned 54 years on the Canadian publishing landscape.
Ralph started his career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force, training in Rhodesia, at the tender age of 17. He described the experience of flying the Tiger Moth, Harvard, and the first RAF jet, the Gloster Meteor as “hurtling through the air in a tin can with a ton of metal strapped to his backside.” He flew in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, and later as a journalist covered the building of the Berlin Wall. In 1961, he travelled via the underground from East to West Berlin through the Wall under the conditions that he would not report on his experience.
In 1965, Ralph won a Nieman Fellowship recognizing excellence in Canadian editorial writing at the Peterborough Examiner and attended Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Later he joined Harvard’s Program for Management Development as part of the PMD 26 cohort at the School of Business.
In Canada he started his career in journalism writing obituaries for the Kingston Whig Standard. After a career as Editor-in-Chief at the Peterborough Examiner as a colleague of Robertson Davies, he joined the Reader’s Digest where he worked for 32 years. Ralph ended his first career, serving the last 16 years as Chairman, President, and CEO of Reader’s’ Digest Canada and Consigliere delegato and chairman of Reader’s Digest Italy. Post retirement he served as Adjunct Professor and Professional Fellow Emeritus at Simon Fraser University where he published a textbook on Managing the Publishing Process for the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. There, he was honoured with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service for 10 years of teaching before he retired again at the age of 80, in 2009.
Peg and Ralph (aka Hank) lived a life post-World War II in Canada pursuing family and career dreams in Kingston, Peterborough, Boston, New York, Montreal, Milan, Vancouver, and Victoria, with summers at Sandy Lake and weekends of leisure in Vermont. He was inquisitive and over the years Ralph pursued his passion in photography, choral music, madrigals, travelling the world, writing and publishing seven books exploring topics of social conscience, family history and publishing management. Simple pleasures included sautéing the perfect scallop, bird and wildlife watching. A storyteller at heart, he regaled generations of family and students with lessons he learned from his rich life experiences. “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement” he would say, quoting his mother.
He was a man of letters in the classic sense: fountain pen, elegant italic script to paper and daily journaling over the last 53 years. He engaged in written repartees, Olympian literary gymnastics with family and friends, including long time Peterborough friend and librarian, Bob Porter.
He was not an ordinary man. Robert Frost’s words “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” describes the restless soul, the intimate relationships, the daily inner tension, his ability to question and think deeply and at the same time embrace his life. His mind never rested as he explored life and the meaning of existence, to the day he died.
Ralph leaves behind 4 appreciative children, their spouses and families who live with gratitude across Canada.
Join SFU’s Master of Publishing students as they present their final magazine media projects. This year we have combined the tech and magazine projects to expand upon the digital possibilities in marrying print and tech. Our students have created their own “maga” projects that explore the digital possibilities of magazine publishing today.
Friday, April 7th in room 2270 and running from 1:30 to 4:30.
“Generative art” is a blanket term for any creative work produced in part through programmatic or algorithmic means. “Playful generative art” makes use of highly technical disciplines—computer programming, statistics, graphic design, and artificial intelligence—to produce chat bots, digital poetry, visual art, and even computer-generated “novels.” These pieces may be motivated by serious social or political issues, but the expressions are decidedly unserious, often short-lived or quickly composed. Creators working in this medium are rarely artists first—as programmers, designers, game developers, and linguists, they use the tools of their trade in unexpected and delightful ways. Generative art also has much to teach us about issues at the intersection of ethics and technology: what is the role of the artist in a human/machine collaboration; what is our responsibility when we design programs that talk with real people; how do we curate and study ephemeral digital works? Digital artists, writers, technologists, and anyone interested in media studies are invited to attend.
On November 22, 2016, John Willinsky, professor (part-time) in the SFU Publishing Program, was awarded the 2016 Connection Award at a Social Science and Humanities Research Council ceremony held in Ottawa. The Connection Award is one of SSHRC’s five annual Impact Awards, recognizing the highest level of achievement among Canadian scholars working in the social sciences and humanities. The Connection Award recognizes outstanding contributions in facilitating the flow and exchange of research within the academic community and beyond. In Willinsky’s case, this was achieved through his Public Knowledge Project (PKP) at SFU and Stanford University, which has grown into a major pillar in the movement to provide open access to research and scholarship. Read more
In addition to learning about undergraduate, graduate and professional and continuing education programs offered, there will also be a variety of free workshops, informational sessions and campus tours. The free workshops are hosted by leading SFU professionals, so you can get a sneak peek at learning opportunities at our campus, including our very own Suzanne Norman:
Digital Publishing: Best Practices in Our Online World Suzanne Norman | Room 1510 | 6:00–6:50 pm
Arguably, everyone is a publisher today. In this 40 minute workshop SFU Publishing will walk you through best practices as you develop your online self, a process that is taught in our minor in print and digital media. We hope to walk through some hands on practices in Twitter and Facebook, and we will also look at the range of career options in this ever expanding profession.
The Publishing Program at SFU is pleased to present the following public lecture, by Dr. Juan Alperin. The lecture will be held on Tuesday, August 30at 3:00pm at SFU Vancouver’s Harbour Centre campus in room 1530.
Research is Also for Non-Scholars: Capturing Impact Outside the Academy
It is commonly understood that scholarly research is created as a public good to facilitate inquiry and knowledge creation. Traditionally, to fulfill this mission, scholarly communication has been focused on making research available and discoverable among scholars, or among a specialized subsection of the population who has been charged with such duties. However, the extensive adoption of open access models of publishing, which provide free access to the peer-reviewed literature, creates an enormous opportunity for increased public engagement with the primary research literature. This presentation uses the unique circumstance in the Latin American context, along with an equally unique set of data, to explore the nature and extent of the of the public impact of research and scholarship. In doing so, it will discuss the new era of audience analysis that is made possible by increasingly digital and open scholarly publishing landscape.
Juan Pablo Alperin is an Assistant Professor in the Publishing Program and a Research Associate with the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Alperin is best known as a leading voice on issues of developing regions to the scholarly community through a combination of published research, presentations, and membership in the scientific advisory board of major Latin American open access initiatives. In his most recent work, Dr. Alperin has focused on studying the public reach and impact of Latin American research, having shown the diverse non-academic public that reads and engages with open access resources.
“Only nerds would want more episodes about print culture” tweets the scholarly duo behind the podcast Witch, Please.
Hannah McGregor (Ph.D., Literary/Theatre Studies, University of Guelph) is one half of that duo, and Publishing’s newest Assistant Professor.
Blending public scholarship and cultural phenomena is the magic that makes the fortnightly podcast so beloved by its 3500 listeners. To Hannah’s surprise, it also proved to be an asset in the job market, particularly with the publishing program at SFU.
“Marcelle [Kosman] (Hannah’s partner in the podcast) and I were aware, when we started the podcast, that it was a potentially risky move. We’re proud of the work we do, but it also doesn’t always look or sound ‘professional.’ We get drunk, we make dirty jokes, we cry about an owl dying. We knew that certain kinds of university departments would look at Witch, Please and dismiss us as serious academics. But we also came to the decision that those kinds of institutions would probably not be the best fits for us, anyway. The Publishing program values the things I value: experimenting with new forms, building things, public engagement, and of course pushing against the limitations of what constitutes scholarly production.”
Pulling examples from the Harry Potter series, the podcast explores issues such as print culture and propaganda (through the evolution of simplistic narrative into the emergence of critical thinking). By following, for example, the texts Hermione chooses to read and her realization of the ways words can be used to advance the ends of particular political forces in the wizarding world, the listener becomes more aware of the critical thinking process.
Does that mean students can expect a new course on Harry Potter? Maybe.
“There’s been some talk of a possible podcasting course — I would love to (re) introduce students to the medium of podcasting through the framework of media studies, while also teaching them how to produce their own podcasts. I wonder what a Harry Potter publishing course would look like… perhaps an analysis of the book’s publication and circulation history, alongside engagement with its vibrant fan production community (since, as we all know, fan production is itself a kind of publishing). Oh, and a whole unit studying the rise and fall of Pottermore and what that can teach us about authors attempting to seize control over fan communities.”
Hannah is also quite aware of, and involved with, the power of the public space; the enormous power of social platforms for sometimes unheard voices, as well as the virtual power of anonymity.
“On a historical scale, the digital space is still a very new kind of public space, and I think we’re all (users, creators, scholars) trying to figure out how to navigate it. And one of the most troubling dimensions of digital space has been the enormous amount of abuse and violence that women, trans people, queer people, people of colour, and other minoritized groups have faced when trying to carve out a chunk of that space for themselves. At the same time, digital publishing platforms and social media have turned into radical tools of community organization and alternative storytelling. I’m interested in how women navigate this space — both its risks and rewards — and how we might teach students to interact with digital tools and platforms in more conscious and critical ways.”
Most recently, Hannah was a full time instructor in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, but knew, that with her background in Canadian Literature and the digital humanities, coupled with her drive to explore digital publics, there were likely many more academic niches to explore.
“I’ve always fit uneasily into a certain version of English studies. I’ve always been drawn to the kinds of academic work that raise eyebrows — that’s what got me interested in digital humanities, and it’s what drew me to making an academic(ish) podcast. Publishing, with its fundamental interdisciplinarity and interests in print culture, the publishing industry, book design, and alternative methods of scholarly communication, to name a few, feels a little bit like the academic home I never knew I was missing.”
Her belief that theory and practice are essential pedagogical partners aligns perfectly with Publishing’s unwritten mandate that courses be a blend of hands-on practical and academic theory.
Courses such as PUB 101, in which students critically assess and explore digital publics, while building their own online identities exemplify Hannah’s pedagogical underpinnings.
“From my perspective, the most urgent task of postsecondary education in this new digital landscape of publishing is not only to teach students to use the tools and technologies and platforms, but to engage with them critically. It’s one thing to learn how to make a podcast — to study examples, experiment with different audio editors, learn how to layer music and voice and sound effects — and it’s another thing to historicize podcasts within several centuries of serial media, to ask how their entry into today’s media ecology is impacting other media like radio and audio books, to politicize the question of who produces and consumes this new medium and why. If you want to be someone who can not only work in but also meaningfully impact these emergent digital publics, you need to marry theoretical and practical understandings of how they work.
“The most important part of teaching for me is conversation: the classroom is a space where students are actively engaged in conversation with me, with each other, with the things we’re studying. Prioritizing conversation can also help students to become more comfortable with collaborating, first with each other but ideally with people outside the classroom as well. In the past I’ve incorporate community service-learning into my courses, through which students learn that what we’re doing in the class is actually relevant to the rest of the world. Another major tenet of my teaching philosophy is creation. The essay has its place, but I much prefer to incorporate non-traditional forms of research-creation into my classes; I’ve had students build websites, write and print choose-your-own adventure books, design interactive fictions, and create online exhibits. Next up: podcasts, which beautifully incorporate all three of these tenets—conversation, collaboration, and creation!”
A natural collaborator, as her work as Director of the Modern Magazines Project Canada demonstrates, Hannah is eager to build collaborative relationships — with colleagues, across departments and faculties, and with communities outside the university.
When not immersed in her love of teaching and research, Hannah sings women’s barbershop and already has her eye on a new chorus in town.
And while students may not be engaging in much singing, they should expect “a lot of jokes, a lot of Harry Potter references, and a valiant ongoing attempt to teach critical theory through memes. (Ahem: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-t0tbC95sUH4/UJGn4eAdP6I/AAAAAAAAAC4/dQ9MpoTheY4/s1600/althusser.jpg). They should also expect someone who is really, really excited about their ideas and their passions, who is committed to making the classroom a safe and inclusive space for everyone, and who likes to list things in threes.”