Dr. Patsy Badir Wins 2022 SSHRC Insight Development Grant for Project on Bardolatry in British Columbia

Tunnel on the Kettle Valley Railway line. Chief Engineer Andrew McCulloch of the Canadian Pacific Railway was such a Bardolator that he named many of the stations along the Coquihalla Subdivision of the Kettle Valley Rail after characters from Shakespeare's plays. Image by James Crookall (1925), via the City of Vancouver Archives.

Congratulations to Dr. Patsy Badir, UBC English Language & Literatures Professor and Department Head, on winning a 2022 SSHRC Insight Development Grant for a project entitled Settling Shakespeare: Bardolatry in British Columbia, 1916-2022.

Strewn across Indigenous land known as British Columbia are disappearing points of reference to Shakespeare and his work. From the Kettle Valley Rail and the Kootenays to Stanley Park and the UBC Rare Books Library, manifestations of Bardolatry – the idolization and excessive admiration of Shakespeare – dot the landscape and become entangled in local legacies of settler colonialism. 

“These sites are living correctives to persist romanticized perceptions of B.C. that fail to acknowledge the historical operations of power in any conceptualization of place. They are reminders of how the economies of global capitalism remain intertwined with the mythologies of British imperialism,” she argues. “This project will allow us to see the mechanisms that have helped to naturalize colonialism by embedding the human and environmental devastation that it causes in compelling tales – Shakespearean and otherwise, of light over darkness, prosperity over poverty, civilization over wilderness, and poetry over noise.”

The SSHRC Insight Development Grant will fund research in Vancouver, Victoria, Trail, Hope, Kamloops, and Midway, B.C. The principal outcome of the development phase of this project will be a monograph to be published with the UBC Press, which will include a chapter to be co­-written with a graduate student.

The funds will also seed the development of two significant community collaborations: a workshop production with the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, and an exhibition on Shakespeare in Vancouver to be held at the Museum of Vancouver in collaboration with Bard on the Beach, the Hope Museum, and the Vancouver Archives.