"As a wayward seeker of knowledge —read: a student with no declared major- I was drawn initially to Cultural Studies because I liked talking about music to people who liked to talk about music. Not only did the program allow me to do just that in several courses (Music and Culture, History of Rock and Roll), it allowed me to explore interests in a huge variety of other topics. My focuses grew from music, to subcultural theory, various fiction genres, religious history, and film analysis. The program and its professors also allowed me to come up with some of the best essay titles I could have possibly hoped to pass in and get away with, and took in one undeclared, wayward student."
- Matthew Stewart, CULS Graduate 2014
“As I was approaching high school graduation I had strong interests in both sociology and art and was not sure of which path I would take to further my education. I looked at the programs that Halifax Universities had to offer and still did not find exactly what I was looking for. I then discovered Cultural Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and quickly realized that the interdisciplinary nature of the program appealed to me because of the close connectivity between disciplines. I was able to take a wide variety of courses from Cultural Studies, Art History and Visual Culture, Film, Women's Studies and women's emphasis courses, Religious Studies, Sociology, History and Languages. The core Cultural Studies courses provided me with tools to critically analyze cultural practices which could then be applied to other areas of study.
When I graduated I became employed as director for a family resource centre. There I found I was prepared to engage with a diverse population and had the skills to write grant proposals to fund the organization, design and implement programs with the aim of supporting individuals as they work to become self-sustaining, and had the problem solving skills necessary for a professional role in management. While holding this position, I dealt with frequent instances of violence against women and transgendered women, mental health crises, addiction, and saw a lack of awareness and support for women directly experiencing these conditions. After becoming concerned by what I had been seeing, particularly regarding women's physical and mental health issues, I then became employed as supervisor in a supported living environment staffed by women for women living with mental illness. What I saw there was a need for awareness regarding women's health issues and the subsequent need for inclusion and advocacy. Perhaps one of the most alarming experiences I have had while involved in this position was when one resident looked at me incredulously when I asked her if she would be voting in the upcoming elections and she said "no, I'm not allowed to vote because I am mentally ill". This powerfully speaks to the marginalized spaces that women with mental illness often occupy and the pervasive stigma that follows.
I became increasingly interested in women's autonomy and how cultural analysis through a feminist lens can expose and address such issues. While maintaining my employment, I decided to formally build upon the skills I gained from the Cultural Studies undergraduate program and to pursue my interests through the Women and Gender Studies graduate program at Mount Saint Vincent University. My current research interests include the perceptions, written and visual representations, and treatment of women in regards to mental illness as well as the relationship between feminist theory and praxis."
- Courtney MacDonald, CULS graduate & current GWGS student