Research Symposium: Impression management

Constructions of visual and cultural identities in North American adolescents

Members of the Brock community are invited to discuss social media, beauty ideals and visual and cultural identities in adolescents at a research symposium taking place on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. The event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Pond Inlet. Refreshments and lunch will be provided.

The day will include two discussion panels, one in the morning and one after lunch, with speakers also giving brief presentations on their work around the theme of youth identity construction. Speaker bios and abstracts are available below. The discussions will be moderated by Dr. Dolana Mogadime.

To RSVP after Jan. 24, contact Fiona Blaikie by email ( 


10 a.m.: Welcome (coffee and tea will be served)

  • Welcome and land acknowledgement by Nicholas Printup, media and communications student at Brock University, and member of the Beaver Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River, and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation.
  • Welcome by Dr. Michael Owen, Dean, and Dr. Michael O’Sullivan, Associate Dean, Research and International, Faculty of Education, Brock University.
  • Welcome by Dr. Fiona Blaikie; introduction to symposium moderator: Dr. Dolana Mogadime.

10:15 a.m. to noon: First Panel Session

  • Olga Ivashkevich, Associate Professor, School of Art and Design at the University of South Carolina:  Beyond “Bad” Bodies: Adjudicated Girls Perform Experimental Digital Narratives to Resist Criminalization 
  • Kevin Gosine, Associate Professor of Sociology at Brock University: Reconciling Divergent Worlds in the Lives of Marginalized Youth 
  • Michelle Bae-Dimitriadis, Assistant Professor in the School of Visual Arts, Pennsylvania State University: Decolonial Refugee Bodies: Girls’ Mobile Counter-Storied Land
  • Jennifer Rowsell, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Multiliteracies in the Faculty of Education at Brock University: Feeling with Materials: Analyzing Young People’s Affect-Driven Maker Practices 
  • Questions and discussion moderated by Dr. Dolana Mogadime

Noon to 12.30 p.m: Lunch

12.30 p.m. to 2 p.m: Second Panel Session

  • Shauna Pomerantz, Associate Professor, Department of Child and Youth Studies, Faculty of Social Science at Brock University: ‘It’s my Lifeblood’, or Why do we Disparage What Girls Value Most in their Construction of Self? 
  • Fiona Blaikie, Professor, Art Education, Faculty of Education at Brock University: Embodied, Constructed and Performed Youth Identities in Relation to Global Celebrity Influencers, Popular Culture, Social Media and Intersectionality: Dreaming the Impossible Dream.
  • Dónal O’Donoghue, Professor, Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia: Becoming Somebody in Boys’ Schools 
  • Questions and discussion moderated by Dr. Dolana Mogadime

2 p.m: Concluding remarks by Dr. Fiona Blaikie

Speaker abstracts and bios

Dr. Mogadime is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University. Dr. Mogadime’s scholarship resides in the arenas of ethnographic, auto-ethnographic and narrative inquiry. She focuses on social justice and intersectionality, in particular, issues of race, gender and class. Dr. Mogadime is Editor in Chief of Brock Education, and she is the Director at Brock of the Joint PhD Program in Educational Studies. Dr. Mogadime is a visiting scholar at the Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, where she is “Teaching Nelson Mandela”.

Beyond “Bad” Bodies: Adjudicated Girls Perform Experimental Digital Narratives to Resist Criminalization

Using the intersectional lenses of gender, race, class, and dis/ability studies, this presentation discusses experimental digital narratives created by adolescent girls in the juvenile arbitration program. Their performance-based video making strategies of masking and rewriting their bodily representations push back against the stigmatization and disabling of their identities by the juvenile justice system, which names them as “bad” or “criminal.” The act of rewriting their bodies anew by inserting alternative self-representations to accompany their anonymous slam poetry performances, allowed the girls to disrupt the normative institutional discourses that marginalize them.


Olga Ivashkevich is an Associate Professor of Art Education and an affiliate of the Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of South Carolina. She received her PhD in Art Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 2008. Her research interests include girlhood studies, feminist intersectionality, social justice and feminist pedagogies, and children’s and youth digital media production as creative resistance. Olga co-edited an interdisciplinary volume Girls, Cultural Productions, and Resistance with Michelle Bae, published by Peter Lang in 2012. She is currently co-editing another anthology with Michelle Bae-Dimitriadis, titled Engaging Youth Civic Participation: Critical Approaches to Teaching Digital Media in Art Classrooms and Communities, to be published by the National Art Education Association Press. Her articles have appeared in Studies in Art Education, Visual Arts Research, Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, International Journal of Education & the Arts, Visual Culture and Gender, and Art Education. Olga is actively engaged in the community-based research and conducts art and digital media workshops for disenfranchised girls in Columbia, South Carolina.

Decolonial Body Politics: Asian Refugee Girls’ Webtune Anime as Anti-White Privilege

This presentation focuses on Asian refugee girls’ Anime-making for Webtune as a feminist public pedagogy talking back to U.S. dominant colonial curriculum. Drawing on critical race feminist perspective, it applies the lens of race to think of social, economic, educational oppression on refugee girls in the U.S.; intersection of their feminine/feminist identity, power, and social relations on the subjective formation of “refugee girls”. The discussion brings contradictory forces inscribed on “refined” anime body as decolonial body politics against colonial imperatives.


Michelle S. Bae-Dimitriadis currently serves as assistant professor of Art Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on immigrant and refugee girl communities’ (re)creation of cultural landscape in the U.S. using art, performance, and digital (mobile) media.  Her research interest revolves around youth (girl) culture and education, refugee resettling education, land curriculum and critical geography, and community art practice, as well as contemporary feminist art pedagogy. Her publications appear in her edited special issue volume of the Journal of Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies (Sage) on From Outer Space: Emerging Girl Subjectivities and Reterritorializing Girlhood (2017); co-edited book Girls, Cultural Projections, and Resistance (2012, Peter Lang); several peer-reviewed journal articles in the field of art education, education, and women and gender studies as well as communication.

Becoming Somebody in Boys’ Schools

This paper considers boys’ experiences of being educated in independent single-sex schools in Canada. These reported experiences reveal ways in which school places are both ‘companionable’ and ‘influential’ in how boys become available to themselves and others as they pursue the possibility of becoming somebody. While sharing narrative accounts of what it feels like for some boys to live and grow up in independent boys’ schools, the paper will attend to the productivity of the concepts of post-masculinity, weak theory and art-led research practice for studying the experiences of boys in schools.


Dónal O’Donoghue is Professor of Art Education at The University of British Columbia. His research and scholarship focuses on contemporary art, specifically its pedagogical potential and its capacity to function as a distinct mode of scholarly inquiry and research. He has received many awards for his writing and scholarship. He is the author of Learning to Live in Boys’ School: Art-Led Understandings of Masculinities (Routledge, 2018). Dr. O’Donoghue was educated in Dublin Ireland at the National College of Art and Design where he received his graduate and undergraduate degrees in Art and Art Education.


Drawing on the work of educational anthropologist Patricia Phelan, I consider the notion of incongruent ‘multiple words’ in the lives of marginalized youth as an explanation for persisting inequalities in Ontario schools. I argue that the collectivist disposition of marginalized youth –reinforced by interlocking racial and class oppression to which they are subjected – clashes with the neoliberal, individualist values of mainstream schooling.  Moreover, in schools, marginalized youth are subjected to neoliberal standards of ‘excellence’ and disproportionately disciplined. The result is an alienating educational environment where marginalized youth are set apart as ‘other’ and the assets that they bring to the classroom are largely devalued. Mainstream education must balance the need for academic standards with an emphasis on fostering connections with students’ communities – influential spaces of empowerment and identity for many youth.


Kevin Gosine is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Brock University who specializes in the study of race and racism, social inequality, youth studies, and the sociology of education

It’s my Lifeblood’, or Why do we Disparage What Girls Value Most in their Construction of Self?

Pop music, clothing, technologies, and social media are the very lifeblood of girls’ constructions of self, yet adults persist in disparaging these material expressions of identity as vapid at best, and perilous to girls’ mental and physical health at worst. Contrary to this moral panic discourse, my talk will focus on the importance of girls’ ‘things’ – not as separate objects with which girls engage – but as inseparable entanglements through which girls’ identities emerge. I suggest that viewing girls’ ‘things’ as distinct entities from girls themselves is precisely how girls become devalued in the social world. But to view girls and girls’ ‘things’ as inter-connected is to see how the material world and girls constantly co-create each other.


Shauna Pomerantz is graduate program director and associate professor of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University. Working at the intersections of feminist sociology, critical girlhood studies, and youth cultural studies, her work focuses on the material-discursive contexts of young peoples’ lives. She is author of Girls, Style, and School Identities: Dressing the Part (Palgrave, 2008) and co-author of Girl Power: Girls Reinventing Girlhoods (Peter Lang, 2009). Her latest book, with Rebecca Raby, is Smart Girls: Negotiating Academic Success in the Post-Feminist Era (University of California Press, 2017). When not working, Shauna enjoys listening to records, studying music trivia, watching Netflix, mixing martinis, going to the gym, and playing cards with her kids.

Feeling with Materials: Analyzing young people’s affect-driven maker practices

An answer to the call for reconceptualizing young people’s pedagogies in the face of the digital age has been makerspaces and maker approaches to learning and teaching (Peppler, Halverson, & Kafai, 2016; Wohlwend & Peppler, 2016). Although there is a growing repository of research and theory on the maker movement and makerspaces (Marsh et al, 2017), there is less understanding about representational and particularly non-representational aspects of maker work in K-12 classrooms. In this presentation, I will argue that the field of digital literacies needs to nuance and complicate makerspace research more to match what actually happens when children ‘make’ and feel with materials across formal and informal contexts. In the presentation, I will feature data from a multi-sited SSHRC-funded research studies that is guided by three burning questions: How do materials affect knowledge? Why make art from everyday things? And, What comes first, the material or the idea? In an effort to theorize making as a literacy event (Heath, 1984; Ehret, 2018), I will focus on terms and ideologies that bring to the surface ontological and epistemological strands at work during makerspace activities. Framed around the three burning questions, I have documented children and young people’s crafting, hacking and tinkering in primary and secondary classrooms in Canada to finetune how researchers theorize the properties and processes of maker work. A federally funded research study, Maker Literacies, will be profiled for this talk and from this research, I will feature key concepts, issues, and case studies based on fieldwork in an effort to finetune concepts and ideologies that circulate within makerspace theory but that still remain opaque. Case studies explore such concepts as material knowledge; the art of maker inquiry; craftivist approaches; and sense-laden materialities. To avoid romanticizing the notion of making, I will push against some of the maker rhetoric around student-centred learning and creativity to explore ways of rethinking existing hierarchies in classroom contexts and the implications of such rethinking work for practice, research, and theory.


Jennifer Rowsell is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Multiliteracies at Brock University. She has written, co-written, and co-edited twenty-five books on such wide-ranging topics as New Literacy Studies, multimodality, youth and popular culture, digital literacies, longitudinal ethnographic literacy research, literacy and Bourdieusian sociology, and the digital divide. She is the co-editor of the Routledge Expanding Literacies in Education book series with Cynthia Lewis and she is the Department Editor of Digital Literacies for The Reading Teacher. Her current research interests include: applying multimodal, arts-based practices with youth across formal and informal contexts; expanding research methodologies and theories of literacy for digital, immersive, and game-based research; and, longitudinal research with families examining ways that literacy and multimodal practices mediate identities.

Embodied, Constructed and Performed Youth Identities in Relation to Global Celebrity Influencers, Popular Culture, Social Media and Intersectionality: Dreaming the Im/Possible Dream.

Visual and cultural identities embody ways of being that are intersectional: They can oppress and liberate. Adolescents’ engagement in and resistance to western beauty ideals and impression management are shaped by material and popular culture, social media, and global celebrity influencers. Ethnographic case-studies in grade-eleven visual art studio-classrooms engaged students in documentary multi-modal art projects and critical reflection on popular culture and social media identity affiliations and impression management strategies. Most adolescents conform to heteronormative neoliberal beauty ideals and identity constructs. They dream a dream that is im/possible. Key is development of critical self-awareness of visual and cultural identities and impression management as ontological, corporatized, gendered, classed, enculturated and evolving. Students seek to bear witness to their own and others’ lives located in place and time: They seek recognition and validation.


Fiona Blaikie has a Ph.D. from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in Education at the University of British Columbia. A practicing painter, she teaches and supervises graduate students in the Faculty of Education at Brock University.  Her scholarship in visual arts education has evolved from a focus on aesthetic values inherent in criteria for assessment of studio art to the epistemological and aesthetic gaps between high school and tertiary level art education. Moving to engage in arts-based and narrative inquiry, she examines the clothed body as managed, performed and embodied, situated in contexts of class, race, gender, sexuality and culture.  Initially drawn to the aesthetics of scholarship, her work has evolved to focus on the aesthetics of youth culture. Fiona is a former President of the Canadian Society for Education through Art. She has served as a university administrator for 15 years, as a department chair and as Director of the Joint Ph.D. Program in Educational Studies. Most recently she served as Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University. As a World Councilor of the International Society for Education through Art, Fiona served for two terms. She has years of experience as an examiner and Deputy Chief Examiner of Visual Arts for the International Baccalaureate Organization. Currently she is Chief Examiner of Visual Arts for the International Baccalaureate Organization.