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Kate Scarth

Meet Kate Scarth, Chair in L.M. Montgomery Studies and Applied Communication, Leadership, and Culture

What is your experience as a scholar?

I’ve always loved to read--Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery have long been favourites--so it’s pretty amazing that they’re part of my job now! My graduate school work focused on British Romanticism. I loved Jane Austen and was fascinated to find all these other female  writers who had been popular in their day but had fallen out of view--it’s nice to bring them back to light through my work. I’ve also always liked history, but I like too that the Romantic period feels modern: ‘shopping’ emerged as a term in this period and the first restaurant (that wasn’t a pub) opened. Writers were grappling with issues that we’re still dealing with today, such as sprawling cities, women’s and workers’ rights, and globalization. L.M. Montgomery, a childhood favourite author, was the subject of my first conference paper, and now I’m the the Chair of L.M. Montgomery Studies as well a professor in the ACLC program. I had considered urban planning as a career for a long time; looking at cities and suburbs in literature allows me to combine a fascination with cities, the places most people now live in, with my love of reading and history.

What is your role within ACLC?

I’m the core instructor in the ACLC program. This year I’m teaching three compulsory courses in the program: Digital Literacy, Putting Arts to Work I, and Digital Humanities. Together these courses emphasize what I see as two main goals of the ACLC program. First, to make sure that students explicitly know and can articulate the valuable skills and knowledge they’re gaining in their traditional liberal arts programs, whether that’s English or History or Sociology or any other Arts program. This ability to speak to skills and knowledge comes in handy in job applications, interviews, and at the family dinner table when someone asks that question familiar to any Arts student: “What are you going to do with that degree anyway?” We’re also teaching skills that you don’t normally acquire in a traditional liberal arts program (twenty-first century skills like safely navigating the web and desktop publishing).

What do you like about the ACLC program?

I like that the ACLC program fills a need--it’s the kind of program that a lot of Arts graduates wish they had. I love that it can really benefit students by bolstering their self-confidence as Arts students, job seekers, workers, and citizens. We’re not pushing traditional Arts teaching and learning to the side, but building on it to show students explicitly what they’re learning. So for example we’ll take a text traditionally read in an Arts program (a novel, a poem, or a history article, for example) and do the kind of analysis you’d recognize from an English or history classroom. Then we take it a step further and get students to think about the text’s implications for the world beyond university. This applied step can come out of in-class activities, guest lectures, or community-based projects. I think the main goal then is to for students to see clearly the valuable learning that already takes place in their liberal arts classrooms. 

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