A specialist degree in English Literature unleashed many possibilities for me. It’s taken me from the study of literature to cinema, and led me from Toronto to the UK. Importantly, it invited me to think seriously about the life path and journey I want to embark on. After graduating, I applied for a Master’s Degree in English Literary Studies at the University of York in the UK where I focused on Renaissance Literature and Drama. During the gap year in between undergrad and graduate school, I completed a postgraduate certificate in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. That experience made me start thinking differently about the role of media and invited me to explore different writing styles; skills I continue to use towards my freelance writing today.
I’ve long been interested in power dynamics, issues of race and gender politics. A literature degree can really take you anywhere. For me, it was my first Shakespeare course at UTSC where the enduring influence of the playwright’s works made me realize the importance of contemporary art forms and the power of literature to make an impact. Today, I am pursuing my PhD at the University of East Anglia in the UK where I am focusing my research on the representation of women in Iranian cinema. I am particularly interested to explore how cinema actively shapes the dialogue for resistance. The need to diversify our stories and representations of the ‘other’ has never been so urgent. Stories have the ability to humanize, build bridges and create connections. So as part of my engagement, I am working with local cinemas in my city to encourage a more diverse program. The only way to counter the current negative representation of women and minority groups is to offer an alternative narrative and I think films have the power to do that.