Call for Applications: The Canadian Literary Censorship Project

Research Assistant, 4 positions (part-time)

Compensation: approximately $21.00 per hour (including benefits)

Hours/Weeks: 4 hours a week from October to March

Location: mostly online

Application Deadline: 20 September 2022

Are you a Sheridan student or recent graduate interested in literature, publishing, and the role of storytelling in Canadian society? Do you have a passion for social justice? If so, we want to hear from you.

The Project

The Canadian Literary Censorship Project is trying to discover and document the extent of banned and challenged books in Canada. Insofar as literary works communicate the values, aspirations, and anxieties of a society, the censorship of those texts might be taken as a bellwether for the overall health of that society, a measure of its citizens’ willingness to engage in unorthodox ideas or even their complicity in inequitable systems of power. The censorship of literature can take multiple forms, from outright bans by public and private institutions to “challenges” based on the objections of an individual or group. Furthermore, data from the American Library Association shows that literary censorship disproportionately targets authors and audiences of systemically marginalized groups: People of colour and those who identify within the LGBTQ2S+ community are, historically, much more likely to have their literary works censored.

In Canada, however, there is currently no comprehensive, systematic, or readily-searchable compilation of censored literary works. In response to this knowledge gap, we propose to create a preliminary list of Canada’s most censored books, as reported by schoolboards, libraries, postsecondary institutions, and publishers. From this list, we will create a series of freely available informational packets housed within an interactive digital hub designed to help educators, students, and the larger public understand the scope and consequence of literary censorship in Canada.

The Team

Funded through a Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activities Growth Grant, the Canadian Literary Censorship Project is led by three Sheridan professors: Dr. Alexander Hollenberg, Professor of Storytelling and Narrative Theory (FHASS); Dr. Owen Percy, Program Co-ordinator, Creative Writing & Publishing (FHASS); and Dr. Brandon McFarlane, Professor of Creativity and Leadership (PSB).

Diversity:

Sheridan is deeply committed to promoting diversity, advancing equity, and fostering a culture of inclusion. Therefore, we invite applications from marginalized and equity-deserving groups, particularly members of BIPOC communities. Persons with a disability may contact Alexander Hollenberg to request accommodation at any stage of the recruitment process.  We thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position. Only those applicants selected for an interview will be contacted. 

Your Role

Our team of research assistants will have two major responsibilities: data collection and the creative dissemination of that data. In the first stage of the project, you will help gather and document cases of censored books in Canada. Practically, this means you will have to be comfortable “cold-calling” institutions and relevant professionals (through phone and email), following up on leads, and inputting acquired information into our larger database. In the second stage of the project, you will help create digital and physical information packets (think: infographics and digital storytelling) that we will then disseminate through multiple communications channels.

Qualifications:

  • currently enrolled in or a recent graduate of a Sheridan post-secondary program
  • experience in publishing or storytelling, graphic/web design, and/or illustration
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • ability to work independently and in collaboration with others
  • comfort contacting and following up with external stakeholders

Application

  • Please submit a resume and cover letter outlining your qualifications and motivations for participating
  • Please also provide a portfolio of work that you think is relevant to this job. This could be work in publishing, web design, graphic design, illustration, etc. A link to an online portfolio is fine.
  • Please include the contact information for one or two references (from a Sheridan professor) that can speak to your qualifications
  • If relevant, please identify any potential barriers to participation in your cover letter, and we’ll do our best to find a solution.
  • Please email all application materials to alexander.hollenberg@sheridancollege.ca

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please feel free to contact Alexander Hollenberg using the above address.