posted on Nov. 9: Governor General’s Gold Medal winner: Leslie Ritchie


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”Leslie Ritchie”]The recipient of the Governor General's Gold Medal for the academic year 2000-01 is a true interdisciplinary scholar.

In addition to an MA (University of Western Ontario) and a PhD in English (McMaster University), Leslie Ritchie has a BA in Music (Honours) as well as a B.Ed., both from the University of Western Ontario.

The Governor General's Academic Medal is awarded to the graduate student who achieves the highest academic standing in his or her graduating year.

Ritchie has distinguished herself through the use of interdisciplinary research skills in developing her doctoral thesis, Composing Themselves: Music, Morality and Social Harmony in Women's Writing, 1740-1815. Completed in December 2000, the work is considered ground-breaking research in the area of women's literary and musical history.

The study examines little-known texts that have not previously been given serious critical attention.

“It involved substantial research into a diverse range of sources including rare eighteenth-century sheet music, poetry, ballad operas and conduct books,” Ritchie says. “My thesis focusses particularly on women's perceptions of music's ability to inscribe or perform charitable actions, to represent nature and to define national identity.”

The work earned a mark of “excellent” on all counts by external examiner, professor Leslie Dunn of Vassar College. “This is a most original and significant contribution to the reconstruction of early modern women's musical history,” Dunn wrote.

During her time at McMaster, Ritchie was the recipient of a number of awards including an Ashbaugh Graduate Scholarship (a graduate entrance scholarship) in 1996, a McMaster Society of Graduate Studies Archival Research Grant in 1997 and both a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship and a McMaster English Department Scholarship in 1998. In 1999, she received the Dean's Award of Excellence in Graduate Scholarship (Faculty of Humanities).

Ritchie has been published in a number of prestigious literary and history journals, and has submitted articles for The New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press) and The Reader's Encyclopedia of Canadian Writing (University of Toronto Press). She is also a poet and has had her work published in leading Canadian publications including The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review and The New Quarterly.

Not all her time at McMaster was spent on research and writing. She served on a number of committees in the English department, organized a series of writing and tutorial leadership workshops in 1998-99, co-ordinated the graduate Lecture Exchange program, assisted in the planning of two conferences and served as editor of the electronic newsletter for the Graduate Students' Caucus.

As well, she was awarded a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship which she declined in favour of a tenure-track appointment at Queen's University, in the English department.