Research Summary

This cross-disciplinary research emphasises how a creative investigation into the climatic and tectonic processes operating along the North Atlantic Drift can help to nurture and communicate a sense of the 'deep time' involved in these. This includes the ‘slow’ temporality associated with glaciations, and the ‘quick’ events of storms and flooding, but also organic temporalities, from evolution to settlement patterns. Such an expanded notion of time is crucial if we are to respond to what Dipesh Chakrabarty has termed the sense of ‘historical confusion’ that climate change presents us with. For Chakrabarty, the uncanny spectre of ‘a world without us’ produces a sense of melancholia and helplessness. One way in which this despair might be countered is by imagining ourselves as planetary creatures whose history has always been entangled with a larger natural history. The Natural Sciences provide knowledge of the ‘more than human world;’ however it is increasingly apparent that the Arts and Humanities have a pivotal role to play in this reimagining in the extent to which they offer representations of the human that reflect and produce dominant modes of behaviour.

This studentship investigates:

  • How field-based geochronological dating methods can use cultural artefacts (written and image-based, and oral traditions), ranged alongside physical artefacts (eg. morphologies and sedimentary archives), to outline the extent and impact of particular climatic/tectonic processes along the North Atlantic Drift.
  • How this work can be theorised, contextualised and composed with respect to extant artistic practices and theories of aesthetics.
  • How an appreciation of 'deep time' can produce 3 site-specific performances/exhibitions such that new narratives of place and alternative histories emerge. The research will draw on geomorphological/archaeological data and techniques as creative resources, and will prompt reflection on new ways of communicating science.

As an example, Scotland’s Western Seaboard is undergoing a post-Ice Age isostatic rebound, in addition to an increased rate of storminess and Anthropocentric land use changes, leading to a complex series of sea/land/air processes and interactions. The machair system, for example, is a sloping coastal dune-plain formed by wind-blown shell-sand, sometimes incorporating a grassland (managed by traditional low-intensity agriculture) to the landward. Later prehistoric and medieval settlements have reshaped these via grazing, cultivation and artificial drainage, and have in turn been buried beneath the aeolian sands. Songs and folklore, as well as geoarchaeological evidence, reveal episodes of both slow and rapid flooding. This pattern of instability extends into modern times, leading to concerns around disappearing lands and forced resettlement. How do we proceed to ‘place’ ourselves and others, temporally as well as spatially, in such a dynamic environment?

The research explores such issues via an investigation of deep time. It revolves around 3 sites across
the North Atlantic Drift from which:

  • Geochronologies will be constructed, using a combination of archival research and material dating, with reference to specific, transformative events
  • A creative imaginary that invokes a sense of the spaces and times of the planet (a ‘geopoetics’) will emerge. This will be based on combining field-based methods from performance, geomorphology and archaeology.
  • A series of 3 creative outputs will be produced that perform this imaginary for local audiences, alongside a thesis.

Though there is a current urgency to provide cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems, such as climate change, the relations between art and science have formed one of the most sustained issues in academic debate, from the work of Leonardo to Snow’s ‘two cultures’ hypothesis. Despite a modern-day institutional compartmentalization that seeks to distance the arts – and the humanities of which they are a part – from the natural sciences, they revolve within a shared history. Profs Lavery and Dixon’s research is concerned with understanding this shared history, and the current dynamics of art/science collaboration, focusing specifically on: the wider contexts that encompass settings for interaction; the scientific research undertaken and the disciplinary, technological, and regulatory contexts that surround it; and the work of the artists, in terms of genre, medium, message, technology, senses, access and dissemination. When the research of Prof. Bishop and Dr. Brophy is taken into account, my research benefits from a unique collaboration of academic interests and world-class expertise.



  • Áfall / Trauma. Berlin/Toronto: Broken Dimanche Press / BookThug, forthcoming.
  • o w n, with Heather Hermant and Chris Turnbull. Vancouver: CUE Books, 2015.
  • Wide slumber for lepidopterists. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2006. 3rd printing.


  • “Five Meditations on Desire and Loss.” Scapegoat (2016).
  • “Rusl: Trash in Iceland.” Journal of Writing in Creative Practice (2014).
  • “Kok og okkur: Kristín Eiríksdóttir beyond the book.” Jacket2 (2014): online.
  • “Bý: an útlendingaljóðskald’s ecolinguistic activism through apiculture and Icelandic-language acquisition.” Jacket2 (2014): online.
  • “Rhyme-off of off-rhyme.” Jacket2 (2012): online.
  • “Sound, Poetry.” Jacket2 (2011): online.
  • Dialogue with Sandra Alland on collaboration and performance. Open Letter (2011).
  • “Sound Poetry.” Open Letter (2009).
  • “Micropressay.” Open Letter (2003).


  • “Ecolinguistic Activism: How and Why to Rite.” Narrating Life: Immunity, Mutation, and Contagion. Amsterdam: Rodopi/Brill, 2016.
  • “Rule of Three” excerpt. I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women. Los Angeles: Les Figues Press, 2012.


  • 2014-Now: Figure, a poetic oracle (with Sachiko Murakami) commissioned by Iceland’s Disaster Days Festival
  • 2012-Now: Gibber, an ecopoetic countermap commissioned by Arts Queensland and State Library of Queensland
  • 2012: Lunalia, a distance collaboration in ESP and vocal improvisation with Maja Jantar
  • 2001-2004: LOGYoLOGY, hypertext investigation of studies of studies of


  • 2014: Bodiless. Composer: Gabrielle Herbst. Produced by Roulette (Brooklyn)
  • 2013-2014: WIDE SLUMBER for lepidopterists. Composer: Valgeir Sigurdsson. Produced for Reykjavík Arts Festival (Reykjavík)
  • 2012: Longitude. Composer: David Brynjar Franzson. Produced for Ultima Contemporary Music Festival (Oslo), Transtart (Bolzano), and De Bijloke (Ghent)



    • 2015-2019: Kelvin Smith PhD Scholarship (University of Glasgow)
    • 2014: Professional Writers Grant (Canada Council for the Arts)
    • 2011: Literary Performance Grant (Canada Council for the Arts), Word of Mouth Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2007-2011: Writer’s Reserve Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2008: Word of Mouth Grant (Ontario Arts Council), Travel Grant (Canada Council for the Arts), Writer’s Grant (Toronto Arts Council)
    • 2007: Works-in-Progress Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2006-2008: Artists in Education Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2006: Hatch: Emerging Performance Projects Award (Harbourfront Centre), Theatre Project Grant (Toronto Arts Council)
    • 2005-2006: Word of Mouth Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2005: Arts Education Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2003-2005: Writer’s Reserve Grant (Ontario Arts Council)
    • 2002: Electronic and Spoken Word Grant (Canada Council for the Arts)


    • 2016: Anthropocene Campus: Technosphere in Berlin
    • 2015: Gibber lectures for Berlin’s Ausland, Amsterdam’s Stichting Perdu, Zagreb’s Poiesis Symposium, and Brussels’ Pianofabriek
    • 2014: Guest lecturer on ecolinguistic activism near Icelandic glaciers for The Free University of Brussels’ Flow and Fracture: Ecopoetics Symposium
    • 2014:  Guest lecturer on artistic practice for the Art Gallery of Akureyri
    • 2014: Panellist for Oslo International Poetry Festival’s Canadian Praxis Discussion
    • 2014: Panellist on Feminist Future Gardes and Praxis Talk panels for Avant Canada
    • 2013: Panellist for Berkeley’s Ecopoetics Conference
    • 2011: Featured writer and lecturer at University of Pennsylvania’s and Poets House’s North of Invention Festival of Canadian Poetry
    • 2011: Featured writer for Trent University’s Canadian Literature course
    • 2011: Panellist for New Realisms Colloquium at University of Guelph
    • 2009: Featured writer for Brock University’s Poetry course
    • 2009: Featured writer for University of Guelph’s TransCanada Literary Conference
    • 2009: Panellist on Toronto Public Library’s Young Voices Magazine for Ontario Library Association’s Annual Conference
    • 2008: Featured writer and lecturer for University of Toronto’s Influency course, Ontario College of Art and Design’s Creative Writing course, Ryerson University’s pre-entry English course, Simon Fraser University’s second-year English course, York University’s Canadian Writers in Person course, and York University’s Introduction to Creative Writing course
    • 2008: Guest lecturer for University of Toronto’s Literature course and University of Toronto’s Prose and Poetry courses
    • 2008: Panellist for Doing It in Public: Poetry in Performance Symposium at Trent University      
    • 2006: Guest lecturer on sound in poetry for Temple University’s Creative Writing course
    • 2004/06/07: Guest lecturer with Katherine Parrish on digital poetics for York University’s Introduction to Contemporary Literature course                              
    • 2003: Panellist on reading series at Chicago’s AWP Conference


    • 2014-2015: Creative writing workshops on multilingualism for Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature
    • 2012: Ear Knows Throat workshops in Queensland, Australia
    • 2012: Sound and text workshops for Menningarverknið Hlaðan
    • 2011-2012: Online workshops in ecopoetics and manuscript development
    • 2011: Ear Knows Throat workshop for Brock University’s Creative Writing Club
    • 2010-2011: Ear Knows Throat workshops for Toronto New School of Writing
    • 2009: Creative writing workshops for Reykjavík’s Impromptu Series
    • 2008: Creative writing and drama workshops for Learning through the Arts
    • 2008: Vocable workshops with Ciara Adams for Trent University and Queen's University
    • 2007: Creative writing course instructor for Ryerson University
    • 2006: Joy of Editing workshop for Toronto Public Library’s Youth Conference
    • 2004-2006: Publishing workshops for Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute
    • 2004: Online workshop in digital collaboration at terminus1525.ca

    Additional Information

    Angela Rawlings (alias: a rawlings) champions environmental stewardship through acoustic ecology, counter-mapping, and geopoetics. As a writer-activist, her literary output includes Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006) and o w n (CUE BOOKS, 2015). Wide slumber received an Alcuin Award for Design; the book was adapted for stage production by VaVaVoom, Bedroom Community, and Valgeir Sigurðsson in 2014. She has also penned libretti for Davíð Brynjar Franzson (Longitude) and Gabrielle Herbst (Bodiless). Her music group Moss Moss Not Moss (with Rebecca Bruton) made its debut at the 2016 Glasgow Tectonics Music Festival.

    Rawlings is the recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship (Canada, 2009-2010) and held the position of Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence (Australia, 2012). During the latter experience, she created Gibber, a digital publication showcasing sound and visual poetry from Australian bioregions. Written while undergoing breast-cancer treatment, Rawlings’ work Áfall / Trauma was shortlisted for the 2013 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Playwrights, and is forthcoming from Broken Dimanche Press.

    Rawlings' work as an arts educator began after receiving her Creative Writing BA from York University. Recent sustainability pedagogy blossomed while undertaking an MSc degree from the University of Iceland in Environmental Ethics and Natural Resource Management. She is a Kelvin Smith PhD student at the University of Glasgow, where she pursues an interdisciplinary PhD on performance and geochronology.

    More? http://arawlings.is