Igor Djordjevic is the Glendon English Department’s newest professor, adding a new focus which will further enrich English Studies offerings on this campus. Djordjevic is a young academic, who holds a BA in English literature from the State University of New York in Binghamton, as well as an MA (2001) and PhD (2005) from the University of Toronto.
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Djordjevic lived in a number of different countries in his childhood, as the son of a journalist with assignments in several locations, notably Kenya and Lebanon. He started his undergraduate studies at the University of Belgrade, but as the political situation of the region became more and more uncertain, he transferred to Binghamton, where he completed his degree. After receiving his BA, he worked as an English teacher in the American Community School of Lebanon in Beirut, at the high school level and in the International Baccalauréat (IB) program. But he soon realized that he needed further qualifications in order to fulfill his hope of teaching at the university level.
Professor Igor Djordjevic
Having married a Canadian, the obvious choice was the University of Toronto, where he completed his graduate studies, focussing all along on the literature of the English Renaissance. “I have always been a fan of history”, says Djordjevic, “and what interests me in particular is the influence that literary works have on a given society’s notion of their history.” In order to have a better understanding of Renaissance society’s concepts of its past, Djordjevic studied many works including Shakespeare’s historical plays, following the leads to their historical sources. “Medievalism fascinates me”, adds Djordjevic, “because it reveals the uses to which historical narratives were put at that time.” Shakespeare, Marlowe and others used their works, set in the past, as tools for didactic or propaganda purposes relating to their own times. Transposing their views to another time made them easier to accept, not to mention less dangerous: negative comments about contemporary rulers and important members of society could have serious repercussions. “When we study Renaissance literature through the lens of historical relevance, we realize that writers continue to use and abuse history. And, in fact, we can apply this prism to the present as well, and have a clearer understanding of our current historical concepts and messages”, he comments.
Djordjevic is teaching three courses during the current academic year: a first-year course on analyzing the literary text’s genres and approaches; a third-year course on – what else? – the literature of the Renaissance. For the winter term, he is creating a brand new fourth-year course (just approved by Faculty Council) with the title, “Imagining the Past: The Literary Uses of History in the Renaissance”. His conception of this new course is that it will be flexible, using a variety of literary forms and examples each year.
Djordjevic has published numerous articles in learned journals and is currently working on a book based on his PhD research. Using Holinshed’s Chroniclesas a major source, this work centres on the 100 Years’ War and the Wars of the Roses – two defining periods in England’s history. “These episodes represent the birthplace of England’s sense of nationhood”, explains Djordjevic. “Reading Holinshed’s Chroniclesinforms us of how people were reading history at that time, that is, with the purpose of being instructive for the problems and events of the present.”
Djordjevic also dreams of organizing a conference on medievalism one day, right here on the Glendon campus. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to juxtapose the historical conception of the French and the English about each other at such a venue?”, he adds. “This duality would be a perfect fit with Glendon’s own duality”.
Djordjevic feels completely at home in Glendon’s bilingual milieu, being fluent in both oral and written French. “It’s a dream to be a professor at Glendon”, he says, “an ideal situation for a young academic: to be able to teach in such a beautiful environment, and with such a warm welcome from other faculty members.” His view of the future: “I want to contribute to the life of the College and the University by making it the focal point of my own work.”
This article was submitted by Glendon’s communications officer, Marika Kemeny.