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Sadie Barker

My general research interests lie at the intersection of postcolonial studies, aesthetic theory, and semiotics.

My doctoral research examines the ways in which “the frontier,” as a signifier inciting geopolitical historical sense, and, in popular culture, in many ways subsumed by colonial expansionist narratives and mythologies, is reiterated and subverted in North American art. Broadly, this project utilizes the possibilities of genre to organize decolonial explorations of aesthetic politics and structures of feeling. Particularly, it examines the frontier’s contemporary genres and tropes (from the western, to the deserted island, to the conventions of classical landscape painting) as both aesthetic sedimentations of colonial desire and sites of subversive anticolonial labour and imagination. In doing so, it aims to think through how land matters of postcolonial concern (questions of property, settlement, expansion, and dispossession) relate to matters of aesthetic concern (questions of beauty, saturation, the sublime, and taste), and what that relationship offers in terms of theorizing the widely identified inaccuracy of the postcolonial’s “post-ness.”

While at Concordia, I have been fortunate to have worked and learned as an instructor of ENGL 210, as well as a research assistant at SpokenWeb and the SPAM Centre (Society, Politics, Animals & Materiality). With Priscilla Jolly, I cofounded and currently coedit Refractions: A Journal of Postcolonial Cultural Criticism, funded by the CCSL.

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