Former Directors

Jerry Varsava, Founding Director (2010-2012)

Jerry Varsava at KIAS launch eventDr. Jerry Varsava holds a BA and MA in Comparative Literature and Aesthetics from the University of Helsinki, and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Vanderbilt University. He spent the first part of his career in the Department of English at Memorial University, moving through the ranks to the level of Full Professor in 1998. He joined the University of Alberta in 1999 as a department Chair. After an extended period of administrative service in a variety of roles at the departmental, Faculty, and university levels, he is now back to full-time teaching. He is jointly appointed to the Department of English and Film Studies and the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, and teach courses in both departments. He takes an interest in pretty much anything related to matters international--travel, current events, cultural developments, cuisine, etc.
During the early part of of his career, his research focused on American and continental postmodern fiction, e.g., Robert Coover, John Edgar Wideman, Thomas Pynchon, Peter Handke, Italo Calvino, among others. In recent years, he has turned his attention to a constellation of less experimental, but equally important writers. In line with this, He has published on such novelists as Don DeLillo, Michel Houellebecq, Jiang Rong, and Ha Jin. He reviews academic monographs on a regular basis. His current major research project examines the depiction of economic life in global fiction of the early twenty-first century, focusing on novels by, among other, Jonathan Franzen, Paul Auster, and Chan Koonchung.

Patricia Demers, Interim Director (2016)

Patricia Demers photoDr. Patricia Demers is a Distinguished University Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Member of the Order of Canada, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy I). She received a BA in English and French and an MA from McMaster University, and a PhD from the University of Ottawa. Dr. Demers researches and teaches in the areas of early modern women's writing; Elizabethan and Jacobean drama; 17th-century poetry;18th-century novels; biblical literature; children's literature; and contemporary women's writing. She has published articles on these topics in Mosaic, English Studies in Canada, Semeia, Sixteenth Century Journal, Huntington Library Quarterly, Renaissance and Reformation, Bunyan Studies, Literature and Theology, and Topia, among others. Her books include two edited anthologies of children's literature, From Instruction to Delight: Children's Literature to 1850 (second edition, 2004; third edition, 2008; fourth edition, 2015) and A Garland from the Golden Age, and these critical studies: Women as Interpreters of the Bible; Heaven Upon Earth: The Forms of Moral and Religious Children's Literature to 1850; P. L. Travers; Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine; The World of Hannah More; Women's Writing in English: Early Modern England and editor, Hannah More's Coelebs in Search of a Wife. She was awarded the University Cup in 2005 and the CAUT Sarah Shorten Award in 2008. She has served as Department Chair (1995-98) and Vice-President of SSHRC (1998-2002); she was the first female President of The Royal Society of Canada (2005-07). She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2016.

Recent publications include The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country: A Facsimile Edition and Translation of a Prayer Book in Cree Syllabics (ed. and co-trans, 2010), Travels and Tales of Miriam Green Ellis: Pioneer Journalist of the Canadian West (ed., 2013), and an annotated edition of Lady Anne Cooke Bacon's Translation of Bishop John Jewel's Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae: A Defence and Answer of the Church of England 1564 (Modern Humanities Research Association, 2016), along with essays on early modern writers Lady Margaret Beaufort, Lady Anne Cooke Bacon, and An Collins, and Canadian novelists Patricia Blondal and Grace Irwin. She chaired the Royal Society expert panel and its subsequent report on the status and future of Canada’s libraries and archives, The Future Now: Canada's Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory (2014). She is completing a SSHRC-supported study of contemporary Canadian women writers.