The Influence of Alison Prentice

As a Canadian university hosts the Berks for the first time, it is fitting to highlight the work of an outstanding scholar of Canadian women’s history. During the conference, I am especially anticipating the panel discussion on the influence of the scholarly career of Alison Prentice (May 23, 8am, HH East Common Room).

This panel on Prentice’s work includes five scholars each of whom will emphasize the contributions of Prentice’s work in a particular area, including feminist research, education, and women’s history. This panel discussion is especially relevant given Prentice’s recent appointment as a member of the prestigious Order of Canada, which recognized her contributions to the fields of women’s history and the history of education.

As a graduate student, I’m encouraged by the careers of historians such as Prentice. While our own work can often feel overwhelming or insignificant, being reminded of the contributions of pioneers in the field can be inspiring. Prentice’s work has involved community networks, social activism, and academic scholarship. This panel will likely also show the impact she has had on generations of scholars of Canadian women’s history. Historians may rarely see themselves as being part of history, yet, as Prentice’s example shows, the potential of our work should not be underestimated.

Highlighting Prentice’s contributions is also encouraging because she was a trailblazer, in many aspects of her work, both as a woman scholar and a scholar of women. While today students have the opportunity to specialize in Canadian women’s history as early as their first-year of undergraduate studies, it’s important to remember that these opportunities are fairly recently, and came only as a result of the dedication of women like Prentice. Perusing new trends through our scholarship, a theme that defines much of Prentice’s work, is certainly still alive and well. We can see this throughout the Berks conference as boundaries continue to be pushed further in the areas of sexuality, masculinity, globalization, and digital history.

Patricia Kmiec (PhD Candidate, OISE/University of Toronto)

Panel Information:

Friday, May 23 from 8-10am:
Encounters in Women’s History: The Influence of Alison Prentice on Women’s History, Feminist Scholars and Education

29 RT, HH East Common Room, 1st floor
Co-Sponsored by the Ontario Women’s History Network
Chair: Alyson King, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

‘A Lot of Seeds were Sown’: The Education of Young Alison
Alison Mackinnon, University of South Australia

Putting Women and Religion on the Canadian Historical Agenda
Elizabeth Smyth, University of Toronto

Gender Stratification, Schools, and the Material Conditions of Teaching
Dianne Miller, University of Saskatchewan

Facilitating Institutional and Community-Based Feminist Education and History
Paula Bourne, University of Toronto

Feminist Educator and Force Majeure: Alison Prentice and the Politicizing of Women and Students in Canada and Beyond
Jan Noel, University of Toronto

Commentator: Alison Prentice, University of Toronto/University of Victoria

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