Research: Jane Nicholas


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Jane Nicholas
Associate Professor
519-884-8111 x 28273

Dr. Jane Nicholas is a historian of the modern body.  She holds a PhD in History from the University of Waterloo (2007) and is cross-appointed to the departments of Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies and History.  She is a member of the Tri-University Graduate Program in History graduate faculty.  A book based on her recently completed SSHRC-funded project on the history of the freak show will be published by the University of Toronto Press in fall of 2017 or winter of 2018.  Her new research project studies the intersection of the history of the body and the history of emotions in exploring shifting conceptions, rituals, and practices of grief in relation children’s deaths in early twentieth century Ontario. 


She teaches classes on cultural theory and social and cultural history at SJU, including SMF 101: Introduction to Relationships and Families, SMF 215 Popular Culture and Sexuality, and SMF/HIST The History of Sexuality:  The Modern Period.

Research interests:

history of the body; gender history; Canadian history; history of sexuality; history of the family; cultural theory; feminist theory; feminist pedagogy

Recent Publications



Nicholas, Jane. Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900-1970s (University of Toronto Press, forthcoming fall 2017 or winter 2018).


Nicholas, Jane.  The Modern Girl:  Feminine Modernities, The Body, and Commodities in the 1920s (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2015) 288 pp.


Penny Light, Tracy, Jane Nicholas, and Renee Bondy eds., Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education:  Critical Theory and Practice (Waterloo, ON:  Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2015) 342 pp.


Gentile, Patrizia and Jane Nicholas, eds., Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2013) 428 pp. 




Nicholas, Jane and Lori Chambers, “In Search of Monkey Girl:  Disability, Child Welfare, and the Freak Show in Ontario in the 1970s” Journal of Canadian Studies, 50, no. 2 (summer 2016) (backdated issue to be published in May 2017).


Nicholas, Jane. “A Debt to the Dead?  Ethics, Photography, History and the Study of Freakery” Histoire sociale/Social History 47, no. 93 (May 2014), 141-157.


Nicholas, Jane.  “‘I was a 555-pound freak’: The Self, Freakery, and Sexuality in Celesta

‘Dolly Dimples’ Geyer’s Diet or DieJournal of the Canadian Historical Association New Series, 21, no. 1 (2010):  83-107.


Nicholas, Jane. “Gendering the Jubilee: Gender and Modernity in the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Celebrations, 1927” Canadian Historical Review, 90, no. 2 (June 2009): 247-274.


Nicholas, Jane.  " 'A figure of a nude woman': Art, Popular Culture, and Modernity at the Canadian National Exhibition, 1927” Histoire sociale/Social History, 41, no. 82 (November 2008):  313-344.


Book chapters


Nicholas, Jane. “Scales of Manliness:  Masculinity and Disability in the Displays of Little People as Freaks in Ontario, 1900s-1950s” Masculinities in Canadian History edited by Robert Rutherdale and Peter Gossage (Vancouver:  University of British Columbia Press, forthcoming fall 2017).


Nicholas, Jane. “Children on the Sideshows, 1900-1960s” The Difference Kids MakeBringing Children and Childhood into Canadian History and Historiography edited by Mona Gleason and Tamara Myers (Don Mills, ON:  Oxford University Press, 2017).

Nicholas, Jane and Jamilee Baroud. “Rethinking ‘Students These Days’:  Feminist Pedagogy and the Construction of Students” in Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education:  Critical Theory and Practice Tracy Penny Light, Jane Nicholas, and Renee Bondy eds., (Waterloo, ON:  Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2015), 245-262.


Bondy, Renee, Jane Nicholas, and Tracy Penny Light, “Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education” in Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education:  Critical Theory and Practice Tracy Penny Light, Jane Nicholas, and Renee Bondy eds., (Waterloo, ON:  Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2015), 1-9.


Nicholas, Jane and Patrizia Gentile. “Introduction:  Contesting Bodies, Nation, and Canadian History” in Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History, Patrizia Gentile and Jane Nicholas, eds.,(Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2013), 3-27. 


Nicholas, Jane.  “Beauty Advice for the Canadian Modern Girl in the 1920s” in Consuming Modernity:  Changing Gendered Behaviours and Consumerism, 1919-1940, eds. Cheryl Krasnick Warsh and Dan Malleck, (Vancouver:  University of British Columbia Press, 2013), 181-199.


Nicholas, Jane.  “Representing the Modern Man:  Beauty Culture and Masculinity in Early Twentieth Century Canada” in Canadian Men and Masculinities:  Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, eds.  Wayne Martino and Christopher Grieg, (Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press, 2012), 42-60.

Recent Invited Public Talks and Keynote Addresses

“The Carnival Clinic:  Medicine and the Freak Show.” Invited guest lecture, Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), Lakehead University/Laurentian University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, February 28, 2017.


“Intersectional Feminism at the Freak Show.” Keynote address for the Feminist Research Group annual conference, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, April 2, 2016.


“Why the Flapper Matters:  Writing Women’s History.” Invited guest lecture, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, January 27, 2016.


“Why the Flapper Matters:  The Canadian Modern Girl.”  Keynote address for women’s history week, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, October 29, 2015.


“Looking for the Child ‘Monster.’” Presented at the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, March 10, 2015.


“The Child ‘Monster’ and Feminist Ethics.” Presented as the part of the Visiting Scholar Series, Department of Women Studies and Feminist Research, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, January 20, 2015.


“Flappers, Fashion and Femininity.” Presented at the Mary J.L. Black Public Library, Thunder Bay, Ontario, April 19, 2014

Recent Awards

2015                St. Jerome’s University, Faculty Research Grant

2015                St. Jerome’s University, Aid to Scholarly Publishing

2012                Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences, Aid to Scholarly Publications Program

2010-2015       SSHRC Standard Research Grant