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Melanie Dennis Unrau, PhD

SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
University of Regina  

"I am a literary scholar with a longstanding interest in poetry, poetics, cultural studies, and social change. I came to study oil-worker poetry kind-of by accident, when I narrowed my focus from a planned dissertation on oil poetry in Canada to one focused on poetry collections written by oil workers. Now that my scholarly monograph on oil-worker poetry is in peer review, I am broadening my focus to study the poetry and poetics of just transition. For my Banting postdoctoral fellowship, co-supervised by Dr. Emily Eaton in Geography and Environmental Studies and Dr. Michael Trussler in English, I am working on two projects—first, a collection of poetry-as-literary-criticism that engages with the poetry and prose of S.C. Ells (1878-1971), also known as “the father of the tar sands”; and a second project, which is still under development, that will use poetry as a mode for public conversations about work and energy transition. As a scholar and poet committed to interdisciplinary collaboration, I am excited to have a postdoctoral fellowship that allows me to explore what literary scholars and the humanities can contribute to urgent scholarly and public conversations about energy and climate justice. The University of Regina is an ideal place to undertake this research, and I look forward to connecting with other scholars and creators doing similar or related work."
Dr. Melanie Dennis Unrau is a SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Regina. Melanie holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba (2019) and held a two-year SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Columbia University (2020-2021). A poet, literary scholar, editor, and parent of mixed European ancestry from Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg, she is the author of the poetry collection Happiness Threads (Muses’ Company, 2013) as well as the poetry chapbooks The Goose (above/ground, 2023) and the tracking line(s) (DIY Methods, 2023), and she is a co-editor of Seriality and Texts for Young People: The Compulsion to Repeat (Palgrave, 2014) and a special issue of Canadian Literature on “Poetics and Extraction” (2022). Melanie is a member of the British Academy/CIFAR-funded Decolonial Cities Collective, an organizer with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, a former editor of The Goose journal and Geez magazine, and a former member of the Artist Mothers collective at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art. Her forthcoming book “The Rough Poets: Petropoetics and the Tradition of Canadian Oil-Worker Poetry” is on contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press. She is also working on a poetry manuscript with working title “Father Goose.” Feel free to contact Melanie at