Explore Ottawa came to be Summer 2014, for CDNS 1101A with Jeff Ruhl at Carleton University. The course aimed to:

[C]hallenge students to consider the ways in which Ottawa – both as city and national capital – has been conceived, constructed, and contested throughout its history and into the present day. Moreover, we consider how the national institutions housed in Ottawa/Gatineau contribute to this narrative and our conceptions of nationhood. To trace the history and role of nationalized spaces (broadly) and Ottawa (specifically) as the physical and symbolic embodiment of the nation-state.To understand the ways in which this embodiment conveys official narratives of the nation-state; how it can impact understandings of belonging and alienation; how it symbolically and practically strengthens the centrality of the Canadian state; and how this space is used to contest, disrupt, and subvert the above.
– Jeff Ruhl, CDNS 1101A Syllabus, Summer 2014 Semester

Students were asked to create a critical contemplation journal; to feature either objects or photos tied in with a quote from a reading and some discussion on how this entry pertained to the course themes as noted above. A mandatory course, HIST 2809A – The Historian’s Craft, with Dr. Shawn Graham the previous year had enlightened me to the concept of the “unessay,” and I was eager to utilize the concept again.

I brainstormed ideas of sites around Ottawa that would convey the narrative that I had come to understand being formed, and once my proposal was approved, I got to work.

I spent several days travelling around Ottawa taking a variety of photos. For some, I knew from the get-go exactly what photo I was looking to get. For others, I was less sure, and I ended up getting some of the more interesting ideas in these situations.

The project can be viewed in its original state at: Explore Ottawa


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