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Thesis Defence: Visitant: A Novel

June 5 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Claire Miller-Harder, supervised by Nancy Holmes, will defend their thesis titled “Visitant: A Novel” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

An abstract for Claire Miller-Harder’s thesis is included below.

Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.


Visitant is a novel that follows Iris’ return home to care for her midwife-healer grandmother who has fallen ill. Her grandmother is from one of Canada’s most conservative Mennonite communities. At the same time as she cares for her grandmother, her grandmother also attempts to heal Iris’ infertility through folk medicine. In conservative Mennonite culture, women are subject to rigid measures of bodily control, often relating to sexuality and the motherhood role. Deviance from this can be seen as spiritual illness or even possession. Visitant considers the way that Mennonite women find agency and connection through forms of deviancy—specifically queerness, infertility, and medical hysteria. Each of these forms of deviancy is related to embodied knowledge, an alternate way of knowing which is commonly overlooked in academic settings. Drawing on the research of Marlene Epp and Linda B. Arthur on the social control of Mennonite women’s bodies, deviance, and folk medicine, as well as my lived experience as a culturally Mennonite queer woman, this novel examines the ways that the body speaks when speech fails, embodied knowledge’s historical roots in hysteria, and the ways in which these manifestations of bodily knowledge can serve as a shared, embodied lingua franca between Mennonite women.


June 5
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Creative and Critical Studies Building (CCS)
1148 Research Road
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates