Brenna Clarke Gray, a graduating Masters student in Carleton University’s Department of English Language and Literature has won a $100,000 research award from the University of New Brunswick (UNB). The William S. Lewis Graduate Fellowship is awarded annually to one candidate in the science or humanities disciplines. In addition to the research grant, Gray will also receive free tuition with which she will pursue her Ph.D.

Under the guidance of Assistant Professor Dr. Brian Greenspan, Gray has been researching how American novelist Dave Eggers depicts men and their role in contemporary society.

“Today’s male is depicted as aimless, listless and nihilistic,” says Gray. “I have chosen to use Eggers as a lens to try to answer the question why men are portrayed in such a way. Why are TV dads so useless? Where has the father as family hero gone?”

Through her research, Gray is addressing a broader issue of gender equality and its increasing importance in a society where positive male role models can be absent from children’s lives. While history abounds with accounts of men portrayed as historical figures, Gray finds that few studies examine men’s identities.

“I want to help broaden the field of gender studies, and bring men back to the table,” said Gray. “Only in so doing can we attempt to reconcile gender difference.”

“I think what really gave my application an edge at UNB was the tremendously valuable undergraduate teaching experiences I had through Carleton’s Centre for Initiatives in Education,” says Gray. “I was able to apply with a true academic C.V., which is not possible for most people at the age of 22. I am grateful to everyone in the English department for supporting my choices and helping me write my application, but it was really the experience at CIE that made my application unique.”

Gray will begin her Ph.D. in September at U.N.B.

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