Jerry White, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in European Studies

A day in the life

Jerry White, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in European Studies

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The point of a bachelor’s degree is not to provide some kind of focused job training, but to broaden your horizons and make you intellectually flexible. European Studies makes you ready for anything.

A little bit of everything

Since joining Dalhousie, Jerry White has been teaching European Studies and Film Studies courses. On top of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English and Film Studies from the University of Oregon, he also holds a Master of Arts (MA) and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Alberta.

Dr. White already has an enviable bibliography to his credit: he’s edited two books about Canadian cinema; recently published a book on film, television, and video in the North Atlantic; has a book on John Berger and Alain Tanner forthcoming from the University of Calgary Press; and has just finished a book on Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville.

“I’ve recently finished two books related to filmmaking in Switzerland,” Dr. White adds, “and I’m trying to make progress on a book about 20th-century Irish literature in both English and Irish Gaelic.”

Plus, he has plenty of hands-on experience in the film industry. He started working at the Telluride Film Festival in university and stayed for 20 years, eventually running a small high school program for them. He’s also worked for a film festival and media arts centre in Philadelphia. And he writes freelance for a Philly weekly newspaper, as well as assorted film magazines.

Dr. White explains why he's been drawn to studying, teaching, and writing about film: “I like the way that cinema, like literature, opens up the world around you—which is why learning about world cinema has been important for me."

When he takes up his position at Dal, he’ll teach courses on European literature—“mostly Irish, but other stuff too”—and non-Hollywood film. “I try to convince students that the material in my class is interesting for its own sake,” Dr. White explains, “for what it shows about cinema or literature in themselves.”

Dr. White is excited to be part of the European Studies program. “It’s a great program for undergrads, because it’s a little bit of everything,” he says. “A little literature, a little history, a little political science, a little sociology, a bit of language…”

Aside from the importance of the breadth of these subjects, Dr. White notes that “It’s important to expose students to material they have no chance of immediately understanding, and then create conditions where they can start to figure it out on their own. Dealing with unfamiliarity is what enables students to grow intellectually.”