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MJ Thompson appointed Associate Dean, Research

June 22, 2020
By Andy Murdoch

The Faculty of Fine Arts welcomes MJ Thompson to the position of associate dean, research, effective July 1.

An Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Practices in the Department of Art Education, Thompson is a writer and teacher working on dance, performance, and visual art. A fan of dance in all its forms, she has been watching and writing about movement and performance for over twenty years.  

She earned her Phd in Performance Studies (New York University/2009) and her most recent work focuses on racist inequities of mobility and movement, as evidenced in the surveillance and policing practices shaping everyday movement under New York City's Stop-and-Frisk program.

Her monograph on Quebec performer/choreographer Louise Lecavalier is under review at Bloomsbury/Methuen Press.

“Her deep experience in the Faculty, her incredible interdisciplinary reach, her nuanced and sensitive understanding of unique research approaches and outcomes will allow her to slip into this role with ease,” says Rebecca Duclos, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

“She is beloved by the community and will create an environment for graduate students the is respectful, collaborative and enriched.”

A role based on service and advocacy

Now, more than ever, Thompson believes that her new role in the Office of the Dean is one based on service and advocacy.

“I’ll be looking to build on the accomplishments of Rebecca, Joanna and the Faculty Research Committee in concrete ways—through funding allocations and more—to support the faculty in its desire to dismantle the pattern and legacy of anti-Black violence. My mandate is to support in tangible ways the vision and research of BIPOC faculty and graduate students.”

Having spent the last nine years as course director of a large-enrolment foundations course for the faculty—she worked closely with graduate students from across the faculty, transforming the curriculum to focus on critical literacies and building a teacher-training program focused on best practice strategies at the post-secondary level.

“My teaching has allowed me to work alongside many grad students from across the faculty, they are quite simply some of the best and brightest thinkers and doers I’ve ever met.”

She believes that developing opportunities for graduate student research is an important part of the position. She aims to continue the legacy of Joanna Berzowska, who was successful in providing research funding and support for grad students working across a range of research methods and subjects.

Speaking both to the recent growth in research in the Faculty of Fine Arts, and to its history of research-creation and expanding the definition of what university research can be, Thompson says that another key element of the position is to advocate for a wider understanding of what constitutes research.

“I am continuously awestruck by the depth and range of projects that fine arts faculty bring to the table. It’s super exciting. I want to support the full range of ideas, approaches and scales of work on view in our faculty today.”

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