Telling Stories Symposium Participant Bios

Jodey Castricano is Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Jodey Castricano has published three books on the issues germane to critical animal studies: Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman World, (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008) and Animal Subjects 2.0 (co-edited with L. Corman, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016), which builds on the previous work in the field of critical animal studies and posthumanism. Castricano also co-edited with Rasmus Simonsen to produce and contribute to Critical Perspectives on Veganism, (The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series, 2016), a collection of essays that examine the ethics, politics and aesthetics of veganism in contemporary culture and thought. Castricano also gave a lecture as part of the ASRI Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Victoria entitled Bearing Witness: Animal Loss in the Anthropocene.

Holly Cecil (MA) is Project Coordinator of the Animals and Society Research Initiative, an interdisciplinary research hub at the University of Victoria, Canada. Her work centres in critical animal studies and documentary filmmaking, and spans visual representations of non-human animals, interspecies empathy and cooperation, and social movements promoting animal subjectivity. Research films can be viewed at Email:

Zach DeWitt is an MA English student at UBCO, working on unceded Sylix/Okanagan territory. His research interests involve epistemological differences and how specific reading considerations might provoke shifts in understanding. His current thesis work engages with Western reader’s approach to Indigenous fiction and the necessary theoretical considerations that arrive when engaging with such literary works.

Madeline Donald In addition to being a daughter, partner, and friend, Madeline researches the interaction possibilities that humans perceive in relation with plants in their shared, day-to-day, and lived-in environments. Currently, she’s learning with the riparian habitats of the Okanagan, as a visitor in this place, finishing her PhD, and dedicated to running with her feet.

Ronan Fraser (They/He/She) is a Scottish interdisciplinary artist working across digital media, live performance and visual art. With a HND in Acting and Performance and a BA in Dance and Drama, they are a trained performer, maker and facilitator. After graduating in 2021 they collaborated with Moot Point Collective and Framework Theatre as an animator and director before moving to Kelowna to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. Currently working on a novel for their thesis, their work explores personal and political identity in changing times often through surreal or absurd versions of worlds we almost know.

Annie Furman (she/her) is a theatre maker, writer, and environmental educator working in multispecies storytelling whose most frequent co-workers/performance partners are horses and pigeons. She is currently pursuing her MFA Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on performing arts and sustainability at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Recent publications and productions include (Be)longing: Tiny Stories for Radical Futures (ed. Chantal Bilodeau) and “Duet,” a short play commissioned for Climate Change Theatre Action 2023.

Nicola Harwood (she/they) is a settler, queer writer and artist. Her plays, performances and installation projects have been seen in the US, Canada and Europe in galleries, artist run centres, grubby bars and proper theatres as well as in parks, on a lake, on a train and in an airplane hanger. Recent projects include Summoning, No Words, (2017) an interactive sound installation responding to violence against women and High Muck-a-Muck: Playing Chinese (2014) an interactive installation and website which looks at layers of Chinese immigration to the west coast of Canada. Her memoir about queer family, Flight Instructions for the Commitment Impaired, was published by Caitlin Press in 2016. She is grateful to currently live on the ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations where she teaches in Creative Writing, Interdisciplinary Expressive Arts and the Inside-Out Prison Exchange program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Ina Linge (she/her) is Senior Lecturer in German in the Department of Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies, University of Exeter. Her research in queer German studies investigates early twentieth-century sexual knowledge production as a collaborative endeavor between the arts and sciences. Recent publications include the monograph Queer Livability: German Sexual Sciences and Life Writing (University of Michigan Press, 2023) and the special issue “Sex and Nature” in Environmental Humanities (2022). Ina is currently working on a new project on uncharismatic animals in the German history of sexuality. Her work reaches beyond academia through collaborations with museums, charities and artists and she is currently exploring the role of comedy in engaging diverse publics about personal and political issues.

Britt MacKenzie-Dale is a SSHRC-funded PhD candidate at The University of New Brunswick, where she is writing a creative dissertation about animal agriculture in the West. Her research is rooted in animal narrativity, reparative storytelling, and the power of fiction to encourage cross-species empathy and discuss real-world injustices towards both vulnerable humans and nonhumans. Her fiction has been published with Prairie Fire and subTerrain, among others, and her academic writing has been published with Palgrave Macmillan and The Adroit Journal. She currently lives on unceded Syilx territory in Kelowna, BC.

Avantika Mathur is a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability. She’s the coordinator of the International Multispecies Methods Research Symposium, a transdisciplinary event exploring intuitive interspecies communication – the exchange of information with non-human animals using intuitive skills. She co-hosts a podcast that explores the spiritual lives of animals and our relationships with them, and also develops corporate training content on business ethics and environmental governance.

Ramey Newell is a lecturer of film and visual art at UBCO. Her artistic practice is grounded in image media, exploring themes of ecology, climate change, mass extinction, human-nonhuman relations, scientific epistemologies, expectations of documentary image, and the mythologies of the American West. Her moving image and photography projects have been exhibited across Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Europe, and have won numerous awards and grants. She holds a MFA in Visual Art from UBC Vancouver, a graduate certificate in Documentary Media from University of Colorado at Boulder, and a BFA in Photography from New Mexico State University. Ramey is currently in post-production on her first feature-length documentary film, A Good Wolf, exploring a 40-year conflict over wildlife management at the boundary of Denali National Park in Alaska.

Tara Nicholson is an artist and PhD candidate (SSHRC) that explores ecological activism through a more-than-human lens. She has exhibited across Canada and internationally while receiving funding from the BC Arts Council and Canada Council. She attended ‘Earthed’ an international eco-art residency at the Banff Centre and was awarded the Künstlerhaus Dortmund Artist-in-Residence Award. She has taught at the University of Victoria and holds degrees from Ryerson and Concordia University. Nicholson is currently completing her PhD that documents Arctic extinction and permafrost studies through the power of storytelling to enact change. Her work was recently exhibited as part of the UBC & Exeter University Catalyst Grant and will be featured in two upcoming shows at Gallery 44 (Toronto) and the Lake Country Art Gallery (BC).

Sharon Thesen is a poet, writer, and editor who has lived in the Cascadian bioregion most of her life. Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Sharon studied English literature at Simon Fraser University and began her teaching career in 1975 at Capilano College in North Vancouver, where she worked for many years as an editor for The Capilano Review.

Sharon has been involved for many years in the BC and Canadian poetry scene, publishing her first book of poetry, Artemis Hates Romance, in 1980. Eleven more books have followed, three of them being nominated for Governor General’s Awards:. Confabulations, in 1984; The Beginning of the Long Dash, 1987; and The Good Bacteria, 2006.

In 1982, Sharon edited The Vision Tree, a selected poems by Phyllis Webb which won the Governor General’s Award that year. Sharon edited two editions of The New Long Poem Anthology, in 1991 and 2001, collections of longer poems by Canadian poets. She transcribed and edited two volumes of correspondence between the American poet Charles Olson and book-designer and Joyce scholar Frances Boldereff. While teaching at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Sharon co-edited, with poet Nancy Holmes, the literary magazine Lake, focused on eco-poetics.

Refabulations is Sharon’s most recent collection of poetry, a comprehensive selected poems edited and introduced by Erin Moure. She is currently working with the Seattle Poetics Lab to edit a collection of interviews by Paul Nelson called Cascadian Prophets.

Bessie Wapp (she/her) is a theatre artist, musician, educator of Lithuanian Jewish / Swiss-German ancestry residing on Sinixt territory in Nelson, BC. Born in New York City and raised in the woods of BC, Bessie studied at ECCAD, VCC, and Selkirk College before working with many of Vancouver’s most innovative performance groups including Public Dreams, Electric Company, Radix, Ruby Slippers, Touchstones and Vancouver Moving Theatre. For thirteen years Bessie was a core member of Vancouver’s Mortal Coil (stilt-dance theatre) and Zeellia (traditional Eastern European music), creating new work and performing across North America and in Europe. Her passion for vocal improvisation has lead to her studying and singing with Rhiannon, Laurel Murphy and David Hatfield and a passion for social change has brought Bessie to leadership roles in many community-engaged projects with youth at risk.

Paul Young is Associate Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture in the Department of English, University of Exeter. His research focuses upon the cultural dimensions of imperialism and globalization in the Victorian period. Since his first book, Globalization and the Great Exhibition: The Victorian New World Order (2009), he has published essays and articles on a range of literary and cultural forms – from Dickens’s novels to the Gothic mode to the adventure story to geographical board games – and their relation to nineteenth-century Britain’s global expansion. He is currently working on a new monograph project, entitled Carnivorous Empire: Adventure Fiction and the Global Growth of Britain’s Meat Markets, 1865-1915, which is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.