My interest in media and popular culture evolved out of personal experience and academic study. It began many decades ago when as a child and teenager living in the US, I watched numerous television series and Hollywood films that were saturated in the mythical American dream. Fortunately, I was also exposed to experimental and international films (then called “foreign” films) though the university film society in the town where I lived. These movies transformed film into a creative visual art form that was very much removed from Hollywood’s standard formula and opened my eyes to other cultures, values, and philosophies.
I also became aware of the manipulative power of media through personal experience as a naïve 19-year-old during my first year of university, an experience that changed my perceptions of media and political power forever. My life did not follow a traditional linear path after that.
While I started my undergraduate degree right out of high school, I did not finish it until much later in my life. Instead, I quit university after one year and travelled around the American West Coast before immigrating to Canada at the age of 23. I spent my 20s in Prince Edward Island where I became part of an inclusive and welcoming arts community. (See the ‘Reflections’ section for additional information about this period of my life, as well as my thoughts on aging and ageism.)
Turning to the academic influences on my research: In 1984, I graduated with a BAA in Photographic Arts (Motion Picture Production) from Ryerson University in Toronto. At 37 years old I was considered an ‘older’ or ‘mature’ student. My degree included a year of transfer credits from Concordia University in Montreal that were pimarily film theory and communications. These Concordia courses, combined with hands-on filmmaking experience at Ryerson, expanded my knowledge about the ways in which film (and small screen programming) can easily influence and manipulate an audience.
In 2005, I again returned to university – this time to the University of Victoria where I took undergraduate courses in cultural and visual anthropology before enrolling as an interdisciplinary graduate student in 2008. The anthropology courses challenged my perceptions on ways of thinking and understanding the world, while also revealing additional methods of using visual arts in research – specifically film and photography. My MA used the arts-informed visual method of photo elicitation. This takes me to where I am today – again using a methodology that makes use of photo elicitation/photo voice but expanded to include a website as my dissertation format to increase accessibility beyond academia.
Linda Outcalt, PhD
Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health (IALH), University of Victoria (External Affiliate)
R Hut (off McKenzie Ave), Room 103
3800 Finnerty Road
Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2, Canada