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40th-anniversary speakers

Liberal Arts and the World

Laura Fraticelli, Team Lead Casting at Ubisoft Entertainment

After graduating from the Liberal Arts College, and spending a year travelling, Laura gravitated toward a career path that surrounded her with storytellers. Hard work and a series of fortunate events led her to jobs in theatre, film, and eventually, casting.

She is now Team Lead of the casting department at Ubisoft Montreal. Laura and her team of six have cast and managed talent on many of the company’s flagship brands such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Rainbow 6.

Chanel Blouin, Junior Researcher, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Chanel Blouin graduated from the Liberal Arts College in 2013. She received her Master of Arts degree in Art History from the University of British Columbia in 2017. Her graduate work considered the influence of exile and immigration on the emergence of modern architecture in Vancouver. She has worked at the McCord Museum in Montreal and the Jewish Museum and archives of British Columbia contributing research and curating exhibitions.

Chanel currently works as the Junior Researcher for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She began working with the National Inquiry as a Statement Gatherer and met with family members and survivors of violence who shared their Truth. She then joined the research team to work on the Final Report, including an examination of the consequences of resource extraction and the presence of man camps on the wellbeing and safety Indigenous women and girls living in communities near development sites.

Peter McQueen, City Councillor, Montreal

As a city councillor, Peter has worked tirelessly for his constituents, fighting for greater transparency and accountability to taxpayers, as well as improved infrastructure for his constituents. He also led a large-scale, grassroots campaign against the STM’s decision to reduce service on the 105 bus line. The campaign’s ultimate success inspired similar campaigns elsewhere in the city.

As Quebec’s Green party candidate in NDG in 2007 and 2008, he finished second in a Liberal stronghold, while netting more votes than any other candidate in the party's history. In 2009, he became Projet Montreal’s first city councillor from the West End. After transitioning into the administration in 2017, McQueen continues to push key dossiers that affect all Montrealers.

Lauren Williams, Librarian, McGill University

Lauren Williams attended the Liberal Arts College from 2002-2005. After a decades-long career in the performing arts, Williams discovered her love for rare books. She completed a Master’s in Library and Information Science in her hometown at the University of Toronto in 2015. Willilams’ passion for books led to work as a letterpress printer in the historic print shop at Massey College and an internship at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. She worked as a special collections librarian at the Fisher Library and recently returned to Montreal to serve as curator of the Blacker Wood Natural History Collection in the rare book department of the McGill Library.

Liberal Arts and the Arts

Philémon Cimon, Musician

A native of Québec, Philémon Cimon grew up between Limoilou and St-Joseph-de-la-Rive. His most recent album, Pays, explores his relationship to the Charlevoix region through its French-Canadian roots as well as memories of his grandmother, a native of the region, and the films of Pierre Perrault. His other albums include Les Sessions Cubaines (2010), L’été (2014) and Les femmes comme des montagnes (2015). He has been a part-time student at the Liberal Arts College since 2012 and is on the verge of completing his studies.

Jean-Michel Blais, Musician

Jean-Michel Blais grew up in Nicolet, Quebec and at 17 began training as a classical pianist at the Trois-Rivières Music Conservatory. He found formal training restrictive and left after two years, spent several months working at an orphanage in Guatemala, moved to Berlin for a year and then traveled in South America. He finally settled in Montreal to pursue a career as a special education teacher, and completed an honours degree in liberal arts and a minor in psychology. After graduating, he worked with children with disabilities and behavioral disorders and rediscovered his love for composing and performing.

Blais’ debut album Il reached #1 on Billboard’s Classical chart in Canada. He has since released Cascades (2017), Dans ma main (2018, shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize), Eviction Sessions (2018) and Dans ma main, remixes (2019).

Fiona Duncan, Writer, artist, and organizer of Hard to Read & Pillowtalk

Fiona Alison Duncan is a Canadian-American artist, writer and organizer. Born in London, Ontario, she grew up between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, where she attended the Liberal Arts College and worked with Librairie Drawn & Quarterly. Duncan is the founding host of Hard to Read, a literary social practice that includes live events, radio and video broadcasts, publishing, site-specific installations, book curation and a spinoff series, Pillow Talk, which covers sex, love, community and communication.

Duncan's writing has appeared in Adult, Canadian Art, Cura, New York Magazine, Spike Art Quarterly and Texte zur Kunst, among other publications. Her first novel, Exquisite Mariposa, is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in October 2019. Duncan currently lives in New York City with her cat Noosphere.

Alexis Diamond, Playwright, librettist, translator and theatre curator

Alexis Diamond is a Montreal-based playwright, opera librettist, translator and theatre curator. Her award-winning plays, operas and translations have been presented across Canada, the U.S. and Europe and her theatre translations are in wide circulation. She also collaborates internationally with artists on performance-installations involving text, movement and sound.

In 2018, Diamond began a multiyear collaboration with professor Erin Hurley (McGill University) and Emma Tibaldo (Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal) on the history of Quebec English-language theatre. In May 2019, she served as co-artistic director of the famed Festival Jamais Lu, where she presented Faux-amis with co-author Hubert Lemire, supported by CALQ.

She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Concordia and an MA in English Studies from Université de Montréal. She is the co-founder of Composite Theatre Co. and a long-standing member of Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal. She currently serves as the Quebec Caucus representative for the Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Mark Mann, Writer and critic

Mark Mann is a writer and critic specializing in narrative essays and longform journalism. His feature stories have appeared in Toronto Life, The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Maisonneuve, among others. His criticism focuses on contemporary art, dance and performance, and his reviews and essays have appeared in The Dance Current, Blouin ARTINFO and Esse and Momus, where he is a contributing editor.

His essay “Lucky Strikes” won the National Magazine Award and was published in The Best Canadian Essays of 2011 (Tightrope Books).  A frequent collaborator with the audio collective Accounts and Records, he creates scripts for historically-researched site-specific audio walks. He is a senior editor at Beside, a Montreal-based nature and culture magazine and produces a newsletter about Canada's innovation economy called Research Money. His first book — a nonfiction account of Canada's history of institutionalizing people with disabilities — is forthcoming from Biblioasis in 2020.

Liberal Arts and the Academy

Jean-Olivier Richard, PhD, John Hopkins
Assistant Professor, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto

Jean-Olivier Richard received his BA from Concordia in 2009 and completed his PhD in the History of Science and Technology department at Johns Hopkins University in 2016.

He conducted his postdoctoral research at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now Science History Institute) in Philadelphia before landing in Toronto, where he works as Assistant Professor at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. Richard’s academic interests include the relationship of natural philosophy to Christian theology in the early modern era, Jesuit history, environmental history and the history of alchemy, astrology and magic.

His current work focuses on the French Jesuit Louis-Bertrand Castel (1688-1757), with a particular emphasis on his theory of the action of man on nature. His other interests include New France’s intellectual and military history, AI and cognitive sciences. In his spare time, he draws, practices and teaches martial arts and volunteers for Action Haiti, a Quebec-based organization working with Haitian schools.

Bryan Brazeau, PhD, NYU
Senior Teaching Fellow, University of Warwick, UK

Bryan Brazeau (LAC 2008, PhD NYU 2015) is currently a Senior Teaching Fellow in Liberal Arts in the School for Cross-Faculty Studies at the University of Warwick. Prior to his role in Liberal Arts, he held a two-year postdoctoral position at Warwick as part of the European Research Council-funded project on Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular.

He has published on Dante, Torquato Tasso, Jacopo Sannazaro, the first English translation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, on the early modern reception of Aristotle’s concept of hamartia and on the Italian surrealist artist Giorgio de Chirico. His work has appeared in edited collections and in journals such as The Italianist, MLN, History of European Ideas and Renaissance and Reformation. He is the editor of The Reception of Aristotle’s Poetics in Renaissance Italy and Beyond (forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic in 2020). He is currently working on his first monograph, which focuses on Torquato Tasso and Christian Epic.

Beth Blum, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Assistant Professor, Harvard University

Beth Blum teaches modern and contemporary literature at Harvard University, where she is an Assistant Professor of English. Her book, The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature, is forthcoming with Columbia University Press (January 2020). Recent work has appeared in PMLA and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Her current research concerns therapeutic redescription, charisma and the cultural history of sensitivity.

Jean-Christophe Cloutier, PhD, Columbia University
Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Originally from Beauport, Québec, Jean-Christophe Cloutier is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2017-2018, he served as the Sheila Biddle Foundation Fellow in the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. He received his BA from the Liberal Arts College at Concordia and his PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, where he also archived the papers of maverick publishers Samuel Roth and Barney Rosset (Grove Press) and radical authors such as Erica Jong.

He is the author of Shadow Archives: The Lifecycles of African American Literature (Columbia University Press, 2019). With Brent Hayes Edwards, he co-edited Claude McKay’s long-lost novel, Amiable with Big Teeth (Penguin Classics, 2017). Cloutier is also editor of Jack Kerouac’s original French writings, La vie est d’hommage (Boréal, 2016) and translator of Kerouac’s French novellas for the Library of America volume, The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings (2016).

Jason Camlot, PhD, Stanford University
Professor, Concordia University


Jason Camlot is Professor in the Department of English and Tier 1 Research Chair in Literature and Sound Studies at Concordia. His critical works include Phonopoetics: The Making of Early Literary Recordings (Stanford 2019), Style and the Nineteenth-Century British Critic (Ashgate/Routledge 2008) and the co-edited collections CanLit Across Media: Unarchiving the Literary Event (McGill-Queens UP, 2019) and Language Acts: Anglo-Québec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century (Véhicule 2007), which was shortlisted for the Gabriel Roy Prize. He is also the author of four collections of poetry – Attention All Typewriters, The Animal Library, The Debaucher and What the World Said.

Camlot is the principal investigator and director of two SSHRC-funded research programs: The Richler Library Project, which explores the nature and meaning of literary and cultural collections and SpokenWeb, an international partnership focusing on the history of literary sound recordings and the digital preservation and presentation of collections of literary audio.

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