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Research up close

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Brock prof's book on WWI literature challenges ideas of Canadian identity, November 26, 2014

A Brock prof’s book on contemporary Canadian First World War literature aims to challenge our prevailing ideas about Canadian identity on the 100-year anniversary of the Great War (1914-18).

Catching the Torch: Contemporary Canadian Literary Responses to World War I by Neta Gordon, associate professor of English Language and Literature, wrestles with questions like what the First World War mean to Canadians? And why does it mean what it means to us?

“There’s various candidates for defining mythologies for Canadians,” says Gordon. “One of them is the railway connecting this vast country, and another one is World War One.”

“The war is compelling because of this sense of anxiety about Canada’s distinct character,” she says. “What you get in the literature is an attempt to make sense of the human story. And so this idea of Canada’s distinctive character is described through characters.”

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Passion for animals blends seamlessly into Cronin’s research and teaching, November 12, 2014

When temperatures start falling, Keri Cronin’s concern starts rising as she tries to find shelters for homeless cats.

Cronin, associate professor in the Visual Arts Department in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, is sensitive to the suffering endured by abandoned cats and other animals, a passion that is evident in her research.

With winter around the corner, she recently put out a social media plea to borrow a cat shelter. Staff from Brock’s Facilities Management responded. They had already used their own time to build a shelter to protect a colony of cats living along the escarpment on the campus.

It worked. The cats have been placed in permanent homes, and the compartmentalized shelter now sits on the front porch of Cronin’s home.

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Brock researchers help autistic youth develop communication and social skills, October 16, 2014

Non-stop talking about a particular topic. Requests made in a loud, demanding voice, sometimes culminating in “meltdowns.” Staring off into space, seemingly uninterested in what’s going on. Stomping off when someone else wins at a game.

Children and adolescents living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) find it challenging to communicate with others, form friendships and to relate to people in general.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines ASD as being a “developmental disability” that affects one in every 68 children.

Experts say there is no single “cause” of autism, with genetic, biological and environmental factors believed to play a role. Certain areas of the brain — including the corpus callosum (enabling communication between the two hemispheres of the brain), the amygdala (affecting emotion and social behaviour) and the cerebellum (regulating motor ability, balance and co-ordination) — have been found to have irregularities in people living with autism.

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