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Graduate Program in Communication & Culture

Faculty Profiles

Joyce Zemans

Politics and Policy

University   York University, University Professor Emeritus
E-Mail Address
Phone Number   (416) 736-2100, ext. 77905
Office Location   Shulich N318
Office Hours   TBA


B.A. (Toronto); M.A. Art History (Toronto)


Professor Zemans is University Professor at York University and a member of the Order of Canada. She holds honorary degrees from the University of Waterloo, the Nova Scotia of Art and Design and is an Honorary Fellow of the Ontario College of Art and Design. She is director of the MBA Program in Arts and Media Administration in the Schulich School of Business. From 1988 to 1992, Zemans was the Director of the Canada Council. She served as the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University (1985-88) and as Acting Director of the MBA Program in Non-Profit Management and Leadership (2000-01). From 1966 and 1975 she taught Art History at the Ontario College of Art, where she also served as Chair of the Department of Art History and of the Liberal Arts Studies. Prof. Zemans came to York in 1975 when she was appointed Chair of the Visual Arts Department (1975-81). She has also served as Acting Director of the Graduate Program in Art History (1994-95). She held the Robarts Chair in Canadian Studies (1995-96). Since 1992, Professor Zemans' research has also focused on cultural policy with specific reference to the Canadian experience. She currently serves as a member of the board of the Institute for Studies in Canadian Art at Concordia University, the Robarts Centre at York University, and of the Advisory Boards of the Toronto Arts Council and the Creative Trust, among others. Zemans'art historical research has focused on early twentieth century Canadian art with special reference to the development of abstraction in Canada and the work of Canadian women artists.

Research Interests

Nineteeth and twentieth century Canadian art with a special focus on twentieth century art and the art of women; cultural policy (Canadian and comparative); arts administration. Over the last eight years, she has written a series of articles examining the role of reproductions in framing the notion of Canadian art for the Journal of Canadian Art History as well as several articles on the status of Canadian women artists.

Selected Pulblications

"International Cultural Relations:  Canada Odd Man Out," In Margaret Wyszomirski (Editor), Barnett Symposium, Spring 2012, (publication forthcoming on international comparisons to cultural engagement)
Making Painting Real:  Abstract Painting in English Canada"  The Visual Arts in Canada, Oxford Press, 2010
"Establishing the Canon:  Nationhood, Identity, and the National Gallery's First Reproductions Programme of Canadian Art," in Beyond Wilderness:  The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art, John O'Brian and Peter White, eds.  McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007.
Museums After Modernism:  Strategies of Engagement, Co-Editor with Griselda Pollock, London, Blackwells, 2007
"The Canon Unbound," The Journal of Canadian Art History, Vol. XXV/2004: 150-179
Making Change:  A History of the Laidlaw Foundation, Co-Editor with Nathan Gilbert, ECW Press, Toronto, 2001
"Envisioning Nation:  The Sampson-Matthews Projec tin the Post-War Years," The Journal of Canadian Art History, Vol. XXI/1 & 2, 200 (published 2001): 96-140

Les Revenants: Long Shadows: The Art of Tony Urquhart, University of Waterloo, (2002) Comparing Cultural Policy: A Study of Japan and the United States, (Co-editor and author), AltaMira/Sage, (1999).

"Japan and the United States: a comparative cultural policy analysis," in A Comparative View of Japanese and American Cultural Policy, (eds. Joyce Zemans and Archie Kleingartner, Sage Press, 1999), pp. 30-59
Where is Here? Canadian Cultural Policy in a Globalized Environment, Robarts Centre (1996).



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Harold [Innis] taught us how to use the bias of culture and communication as an instrument of research. By directing attention to the bias, or distorting power of the dominant imagery and technology of any culture, he showed us how to understand cultures.
~ Marshall McLuhan