Professor, Department of English, Dawson College
Professor, Department of English, Dawson College
I'm Justin Pfefferle, a professor in the Department of English at Dawson College. I teach courses in a variety of areas and across disciplines, including Life Writing, Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, 20th Century British and American literature, and Film. Prior to coming to Dawson, I taught in the Department of English and the Graham School of Professional Communication at the University of Saskatchewan (2016-2017), and was Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the State University of New York, New Paltz (2015-2016), my first job after earning my Ph.D. at McGill University in 2015.
As a researcher, I'm preoccupied with all things mid-century, with a focus in wartime and the immediate postwar period. I've presented work at the Space Between and Modernist Studies Association Conferences on figures like Patrick Hamilton, Humphrey Jennings, Elizabeth Bowen, and Lee Miller. I'm currently working on a project tentatively called "Adaptogenic Narrative in the Long Midcentury, 1938-1960." This project investigates what I view as tendency of midcentury narratives, beginning with Daphne duMaurier's Rebecca, to express at the levels of form and content a desire to adapt into other kinds of narratives across different media platforms.
I'm also developing a burgeoning interest in contemporary digital and new media arts, especially video and sound art. Some of my writing on media art can be found in the 2014 book Paved Meant, a collection of essays about installations that exhibited at the terrific artist-run gallery Paved Arts in Saskatoon SK, Canada. I'm also an enthusiastic reviewer of Canadian fiction, for such literary publications as the Maple Tree Literary Supplement, the Malahat Review, and the Bull Calf Review.
Teaching is, without question, the best part of academic life. In my classes, I encourage students to indulge their curiosities and take intellectual risks. I consider education to be a necessarily social process, one that happens inside and outside the classroom, and whose best effects are felt in the public sphere, beyond the confines of the ivory tower.
Below, you can find syllabi for classes I have taught at Bishop's University, the University of Saskatchewan, SUNY New Paltz, and McGill University.
This class traces the development of literary theory from its origins in English Departments at the beginning of the twentieth century, to the fractious debates about theory and anti-theory in the postwar academy, to contemporary theoretical movements and concepts that challenge our suppositions about what it means to read a literary text. In the first half of the class, we are going to conduct a survey of major theoretical trends, including poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, queer theory, and adaptation theory. In the second half, we are going to explore how we can use those theories to illuminate, and complicate, a particular text: Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, Frankenstein.
Syllabus: Literary Theory
This course invites students to follow a historical trajectory of life writing from St. Augustine’s Confessions (400 AD) to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (2015). As well as examining a full range of different kinds of life writing, including diaries, letters, memoirs, autobiographies, and eye-witness reportage, we will consider and discuss shifting attitudes toward the very idea of “the self,” and its relationship to various kinds of cultural production.
Syllabus: Confession, Memoir, and Life Writing
In introduction to film, we view and discuss significant films, read seminal works of film criticism and theory, and cultivate a vocabulary for thinking, speaking, and writing critically about cinema. Starting with early experiments in photography and moving image technology, we follow a trajectory that includes silent film, German Expressionism, Surrealism, film noir, American Direct Cinema, the French New Wave, and Canadian documentary.
Syllabus: Introduction to Film
Reading narrative begins from the premise that human beings are story-telling animals and that we cannot not narrate our realities. In this class, we engage with a variety of literary forms—essays, short fiction, poetry, the novel, and drama—in order to clarify what we mean when we’re talking (and writing!) about narrative.
Syllabus: Reading Narrative
In his “First Principles of Documentary,” John Grierson admitted that “documentary is a clumsy description,” but urged his reader to “let it stand.” Rather than accept Grierson’s advice, we examine precisely what it means to describe a film as documentary by viewing and talking about a survey of significant films, including Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North, D.A. Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back, Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Reassemblage, and Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine.
Syllabus: Introduction to Documentary Cinema
This course introduces students to a representative survey of British literature from the 17th century to the present. We study a variety of canonical texts. As well as discussing the formal and aesthetic properties of the works we examine, we spend time situating these texts in their respective cultural, historical, social, and political contexts. Of necessity, this involves a sustained conversation about what the very concept of the canonical entails.
Syllabus: The Canon and its Discontents
The etymology of “essay,” from the French essai, describes a practice that hinges on the idea of attempt. In this class, we hone our skills as essayists—readers and commentators who embrace the experience of thinking and writing as an ever-going process—through the close reading and discussion of seminal essays of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Syllabus: The Art of the Essay
The purpose of this course is to prepare students to negotiate the rhetorical, political, ethical, and interpersonal challenges of communicating in a professional environment. The class mixes theory with practice in order to help develop students’ communicative judgement and effectiveness.
Syllabus: Rhetoric and Professional Communication
This course follows the evolution of the novel as it developed in the twentieth century alongside other communications technologies, including photography, radio, telephony, television, cinema, and the internet. The course is aimed at heightening our appreciation of the dominant literary form of the twentieth century and better understanding the various ways and forces through which media interact with one another.
My primary area of research involves excavating connections between experimental and mass-cultural forms, especially at mid-century in Britain. I'm a committed interdisciplinarian, and my work stretches from literary to visual media, especially cinema and photography. I'm currently working on a book called "Surrealism and Documentary in Britain during the Second World War," which includes chapters on Lee Miller, Humphrey Jennings, William Sansom, and Elizabeth Bowen.
I'm also building a project that deals with how novels in the twentieth century contend with other media, including photography, radio, the telephone, cinema, and television. I'm looking at novels by Daphne DuMaurier, James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alan Sillitoe.
I'm putting the final touches on a couple articles, too: one called "Mass-Observation, the English Pub, and Patrick Hamilton's The Slaves of Solitude," and another called "Reading James Bond Reading Women: 007's Hermeneutics of Suspicion." I recently presented a paper on Daphne Du Maurier's and Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca at the Space Between Society Conference in Oxford, Mississippi, in May 2017. That paper is called "Rebecca, Adaptation, Rebecca."
Hit play on the video to watch a talk I gave at SUNY New Paltz in March 2016 called "Lucid Abnormality: Lee Miller, Elizabeth Bowen, and the Surrealism of the Second World War."
It’s not easy to put together a successful application for arts, research, and business funding. Oftentimes, people submit their applications without knowing what their audience is looking for, and without the benefit of professional editorial guidance. As an experienced and successful writer of grants and a scholar trained in professional communication, I've helped numerous people secure institutional and government funding for arts and research projects. I want to help you, too.
At Pfefferle Editorial and Consulting, I provide editorial services and face-to-face consultation to make sure your applications are as strong as they can possibly be come deadline-day. If you're applying for a Canada Council or Saskatchewan Arts Board grant, SSHRC funding, or writing a graduate school or post-doc application, let me know if I can be of assistance!
Check the three packages below to see if one of them fits your needs. And if you want to have an informal chat about what I can do for you, drop me a line at PfefferleEditorialConsulting(at)gmail.com!
Editorial Feedback (up to 4 pgs)
I help make your document as strong as possible by providing commentary on clarity of writing, structure, tone, grammar, etc., within document, as well as giving 1-2 pages of substantial general written feedback
Editorial Comments (4pp)
Consultation (45-60 mins, Face-to-Face or Skype)
As well as providing commentary on clarity of writing, structure, tone, grammar, etc., within document, and 1-2 pages of substantial general written feedback, I discuss your proposal with you and help you develop a strategy for a next draft or submission.
Editorial Comments on Follow-up Draft
As well as providing commentary on clarity of writing, structure, tone, grammar, etc., within document, and 1-2 pages of substantial general written feedback, I discuss your proposal with you and help you develop a strategy for a next draft or submission. Following our meeting, I provide in-document commentary and general feedback on a subsequent draft following our meeting.