Skip To Content

Athabasca University

Dr. Melisa Brittain




  • Ph.D., English, University of Alberta
  • M.A., English, University of Guelph
  • B.A. (Honours), English and Philosophy, University of Guelph


Since 2006, I’ve been teaching courses in English at Athabasca University, and I’ve been teaching here in Women’s & Gender Studies since 2009. I also taught courses in English, Women’s & Gender Studies, and Sociology at the University of Alberta between 2001 and 2012. In 2012, I began working as a researcher with FNCARES at the University of Alberta; our work there involves translating research on the structural drivers of disadvantage for First Nations children, youth and families into pragmatic, community-based solutions.

My work as teacher and researcher intersects with my work as a video artist. In each area, I endeavor to make connections between our colonial pasts and presents, and stimulate thought and discussion about the social constructions of gender, race, sexuality, class and ability in these socio-political contexts.

In my doctoral dissertation, I developed an analytic framework for investigating how race, gender, and class intersect in representations of interracial desire. Later research focused on applying intersectional methodologies produced by feminist, postcolonial, queer, and critical disability studies to analyse print, visual, and performance cultures produced by and about drag kings, butch lesbians, female-to-male (FtM) transsexuals, tranny boys, and transgendered men.

Visit the KingCrip website for information about our collaborative filmmaking projects, and see here for a video I recently collaborated on with Daniela Navia. Her research forms the basis for a film we’re currently making with Indigenous youth on their experiences of child welfare in the face of ongoing settler-colonialism.


And the Rest is Drag (2009, 32 min.)
Shot in Edmonton and featuring the Alberta Beef Drag King Troupe, the film explores gender as a creative, performative, and political social practice.

Bill 44: Smaller Classes, Smaller Minds (2009, 4:35 min.)
A satirical film that demonstrates how Alberta's controversial Bill 44 (which requires teachers to notify parents before introducing material relating to religion, sexuality or sexual orientation) can help teachers to reduce their class sizes.

G.I.M.P. Boot Camp (2008, 8 min.)
Part satire and part documentary, co-filmmaker Danielle Peers instructs viewers how to creatively navigate the socially awkward space between passing as able-bodied and passing as disabled.

Selected Publications

“Benevolent Invaders, Heroic Victims and Depraved Villains: White Femininity in Media Coverage of the Invasion of Iraq.” (En) Gendering the War on Terror: War Stories and Camouflaged Politics. Eds. Krista Hunt and Kim Rygiel. Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2006. 73-96.

“Liberation Fantasy Revised: White Women Saving Brown Men from Themselves.” Fifty3: A Magazine About Visual Culture. 5.1 (2003): 8-12.

“Erasing Race in the New Woman Review: Victoria Cross's Anna Lombard.” Nineteenth- Century Feminisms. Special Issue: Masculinities, Maternities, Motherlands: Defining/Contesting New Woman Identities. (Ed. Ann Heilmann.) 4 (Spring/Summer 2001): 75-95.

Selected Presentations

“Transformative Stories: Crip and Queer Art as Activism.” Presentation followed by panel discussion. Sponsored by Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG). University of Alberta, November 2008.

“Rac(e)ing the Drag King.” What's the Matter? Cultural Studies and the Question of Urgency. Canadian Association of Cultural Studies Annual Conference. University of Alberta, October 2007.

“Clashing Masculinities/Clashing Ideologies: Interracial Desire and Inter-Generational Conflict in East is East and My Son the Fanatic.” Insides, Outsides and Elsewheres. Canadian Association of Cultural Studies Annual Conference. University of Alberta, October 2005.

“Benevolent Invaders: Narratives of the Emancipated Western Woman as Justification of Imperialist Violence.” (Un)knowable Violences: Non-Innocent Conversations. UBC Women's Studies and Gender Relations, Graduate Student Conference, University of British Columbia, March 2004.

“How to Rape Your Date, Not!: Risking Irony to End the Romance of Date Rape.” Association for Canadian Studies' Annual Conference, Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Université Laval, May 2001.

Updated July 24 2014 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.