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CHA Congress Event: Is Oil a Dirty Word? Stories from the Humanities

Date & Time:
May 29, 2016 | 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Theatre Junction, Downtown Calgary
Moderator Chris Turner, and other roundtable participants including Ellen Close, Petra Dolata, Terrance Houle, Sean Kheraj, Melanie Kloetzel, Dominique Perron and Imre Szeman.

CHA Community Event: Is Oil a Dirty Word? Stories from the Humanities

Sunday, 29th May, 6.30-8 pm (doors open at 6 pm), Theatre Junction Grand, downtown Calgary, Studio, 

Free Public Event.  Registration required at Theatre Junction Grand.

Echoing the theme of the 2016 Canadian Historical Association's annual conference, “Stories,” this community event takes a quote from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall as a starting point to discuss the many meanings of oil for people living in Calgary and Alberta. In July 2015 Wall insisted “oil is not a dirty word” nor a “four letter word.” Rather than agreeing with or contesting these contentions scholars and practitioners from the humanities will share oil stories – including those that run counter or are not heard – highlighting the many meanings of oil and take apart accepted understandings in order to engage the public in a more reflective and critical discussion of oil in today’s society, especially in Calgary.

Moderator: Chris Turner, award-winning Canadian journalist and author

Roundtable Participants:

Ellen Close, actor, playwright and producer based in Calgary. As a member of the Downstage Creation Ensemble, she has co-created and performed in Good Fences, a play about landowners and the oil industry.

Petra Dolata, Canada Research Chair in the History of Energy and Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. Entitled “The Many Stories of Energy” her research agenda examines the impact of energy on economic, political and social life in 20th-century Europe and North America.

Terrance Houle, born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and raised on the Great Plains of North America, is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary media artist and a proud member of the Kainai Nation. He utilizes at his discretion performance, photography, video/film, music and painting.

Sean Kheraj, Associate Professor of Canadian and environmental history in the Department of History at York University in Toronto. He is currently working on a history of oil pipeline spills in Canada. He is also a co-editor of where he hosts and produces Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History podcast.

Melanie Kloetzel, Associate Professor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Calgary and artistic director of the dance theatre company, kloetzel&co., which she founded in New York in 1997. Her recent works Room and Rooms address human adaptation in the face of climate change.

Dominique Perron, retired Associate Professor at University of Calgary, author of the award-winning book L'Alberta Autophage: Identités, mythes et discours du pétrole dans l'Ouest canadien, which was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Non-fiction in French in 2013.

Imre Szeman, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and Professor of English, Film Studies and Sociology at the University of Alberta. A recipient of the John Polanyi Prize in Literature and the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award, he is currently working on a book on the cultural politics of oil as well as an edited collection on energy, history and politics.    


Co-organized by Dr Petra Dolata, Canada Research Chair in the History of Energy, the Canadian Historical Association, and the Calgary Institute for the Humanities