Picture of Kristina Fagan Bidwell

Kristina Fagan Bidwell B.A. (Memorial), M.A., Ph.D. (Toronto)

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Storytelling

Faculty Member in English
Graduate Supervisor in English

Arts 414

Research Area(s)

  • Indigenous writing and storytelling

About me

My Research:

My research program focusses on how stories interact between communities, both between different Indigenous communities and between Indigenous and settler communities. Difficulties in understanding, making space for, and valuing one another’s stories – across boundaries of culture and power – underlie many high-stakes conflicts over land, identity, and knowledge. How can a better understanding of the ways that stories interact across difference help us to address such conflicts? I examine how stories create meaning, circulate, and influence actions in cross-cultural social contexts. Based on this research, I seek to offer principles and practical tools to improve inter-Indigenous and Indigenous-settler collaborations.

I consider storytelling to include not only formal oral narratives and literary texts, but also the personal, communal, popular, and public narratives that we all tell and consume every day.  I assume that stories not only mean things but also do things, shaping how we think, feel, and act.  

My research currently focusses on two areas:

- A SSHRC-funded study of Indigenous-led collaboration in the literary arts.

- A study of conflicts between Indigenous communities, particularly over issues of territory and identity.

My Professional Background

I am a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Storytelling and a Full Professor in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan, which I joined in 2001.  I am also the current President of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association.  From 2011 to 2018, I was the first Associate Dean of Aboriginal Affairs in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan.  

My Family Background:

I am a registered member of NunatuKavut (www.nunatukavut.ca), the federally-recognized government for the Southern Inuit community of Labrador. But, beyond this membership, I want to describe and honour where and who I come from, as it inspires my research on storytelling.

My family are all from the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador.  My father, Michael Fagan, was descended from Gaelic-speaking Irish who settled in St. Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland.  My maternal grandmother, Margaret Campbell, was a proud Labradorian of Inuit and Scottish ancestry.  Born and raised in Campbell’s Cove, Labrador, she was part of a larger community of Inuit and European ancestry, and both of her parents were part of this community.  She was the great-granddaughter of Inuk writer, Lydia Campbell.  My maternal grandfather, Clarence Perry, was of Mi’kmaq, French, and English ancestry from Daniel’s Harbour, Newfoundland.  His mother, Matilda Benoit (later changed to Bennett), was a descendant of Mi’kmaq from Bay St. George, Newfoundland.  My grandfather moved to Labrador to marry my grandmother and, with my Great-uncle Ben Powell, he founded the Labrador community of Charlottetown.  My mother, Lenora Perry, the oldest of nine children, was raised in Labrador until my grandparents decided to move to Daniel’s Harbour in order to avoid sending their children to residential school, and to be able to offer them access to a better education.  I was born in Gander, Newfoundland, and raised in St. John’s.

Because of this diverse background, I was raised with a wealth of stories.  My maternal grandmother, in particular, was a talented storyteller who told stories of her family going back many generations.  Much of my work as a literary scholar, which has explored stories as a social actions within Indigenous communities, comes from what I learned at her kitchen table.  But I also grew up with my father’s stories, many of which surely travelled from Ireland generations earlier, of ghosts and of the fairies who lived in the forest behind my grandparents’ house.  As I have had children myself, I have become increasingly interested in how they, and I, can listen to our many stories and, in bringing them together, recognize all the layers of ourselves.  My research program has therefore turned towards questions about how stories interact between communities, both between different Indigenous communities and between Indigenous and settler communities.  

Graduate Supervision:

Abram, Olivia. Ph.D. Co-supervisor.  "Read, View, Listen: Ethical Settler Engagements with Indigenous Literary Expression in Academia, Education, and the Public ." (In Progress)

Campbell, Tenille, Ph.D., Supervisor, The Aunties Know: Kinship and Women’s Knowledge in Indigenous Erotica, 2013 – present. (In Progress)

Charlton, Adar, Ph.D., Supervisor, Sense of Place in Anishnaabe Literature, 2011 – 2018 (Completed).

Acoose, Janice, Ph.D., Supervisor, Minjimendaamowinon Anishinaabe: Reading and Righting All Our Relations in Written English. 2008 – 11. (Completed).

Iles, Caitlyn, M.A. Thesis, Supervisor, Aboriginal Realism in Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen and Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road. 2009-11 (Completed).

Donaldson, Bryce, M.A. Project, Supervisor, The Culture Specific Approach Meets the Postmodern Text: Cultural Initiation in Paul Seesequasis’ ‘The Republic of Tricksterism.’ 2009-10 (Completed).

Moore, Robyn, M.A. Project, Supervisor, The Use of the Anecdote in the Critical Study of Aboriginal Literature, 2009 (Completed).

Dyck, Melanie, M.A. Thesis, Supervisor, Psychological Analysis of In Search of April Raintree, 2004-09 (Completed).

Atherton, Carla. M.A. Thesis, Supervisor, Motherhood and Birth in Canadian Poetry, 2001-04 (Completed).

Milligan, Richard, M.A. Thesis, Supervisor, An Ecocritical look at 18th Century Travel Narratives, 2003-05 (Completed).


Edited Books:

Fagan, Kristina, Keith Carlson, and Natalia Friesen, editors. Orality and Literacy: Reflections across Disciplines. U Toronto P, 2011. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442661936

Fagan, Kristina and Keith Carlson, editors. Call Me Hank: A Sto:lo Man’s Reflections on Living, Logging, and Growing Old. By Henry Pennier. U Toronto P, 2009. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442627260 

Chapters in Books:

Bidwell, Kristina Fagan, and Sam McKegney. “Many Communities and the Full Humanity of Indigenous People: A Dialogue.” Learn, Teach, Challenge: Approaching Indigenous Literatures, edited by Deanna Reder and Linda Morra, Wilfred Laurier UP, 2016, pp. 309-314. https://doi.org/10.1353/esc.2017.0056 

Bidwell, Kristina Fagan. “‘Our New Storytellers’: Cree Literature in Saskatchewan.” The Literary History of Saskatchewan Vol. I., edited by David Carpenter, Coteau Books, 2013, pp. 1-28.

Bidwell, Kristina Fagan. “Metis Identity and Literature.” A Handbook of Indigenous Literatures, edited by Daniel Heath Justice and James Cox, Oxford UP, 2012, pp. 118-136.

Fagan, Kristina, Daniel Justice, Keavy Martin, Sam McKegney, Deanna Reder, and Niidonwedom Sinclair. “Canadian Indigenous Literary Nationalism?: Critical Approaches in Canadian Indigenous Contexts – A Collaborative Interlogue.” Reprinted in Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada, edited by Christine Kim, Sophie McCall, and Melina Baum Singer, Wilfred Laurier UP, 2012, pp. 43-63.

Fagan, Kristina. “Private Stories in Aboriginal Literature.” Orality And Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines, Fagan et al., pp. 153-176. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442661936

Fagan, Kristina with Keith Carlson. “Introduction.” Orality And Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines, Fagan et al., pp. 3-17. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442661936

Fagan, Kristina. “Codeswitching Humour in Aboriginal Literature.” Across Cultures / Across Borders: Canadian Aboriginal and Native American Literatures, edited by Renate Eigenbrod, Paul de Pasquale, and Emma LaRocque, Broadview Press, 2010, pp. 25-42.

Fagan, Kristina. “What’s the Trouble with the Trickster?: An Introduction” Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations, edited by Deanna Reder and Linda M. Morra, Wilfred Laurier Press, 2010, pp. 3-20.

Fagan, Kristina. “Tewatatha:wi: Aboriginal Nationalism in Taiaiake Alfred’s Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto.” Reprinted in Canadian Cultural Studies: A Reader, Duke UP, 2009, pp. 390-404. https://doi.org/10.1353/aiq.2005.0006 

Fagan, Kristina and Keith Carlson. “Introduction.” Call Me Hank: A Sto:lo Man’s Reflections on Living, Logging, and Growing Old, Fagan and Carlson, 2006, pp. Xi-xxxix. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442627260

Fagan, Kristina. “Teasing, Tolerating, Teaching: Laughter and Community in Native Literature.” Me Funny, edited by Drew Hayden Taylor, Douglas and McIntyre, 2005, pp. 23-46.

Fagan, Kristina. “The Spiritual Tourist in the Plays of Drew Hayden Taylor.” Drew Hayden Taylor: Essays on His Works, edited by Robert Nunn, Guernica Press, pp. 20-46.

Fagan, Kristina. “’What About You?’: Approaching the Study of ‘Native Literature.’” Creating Community: A Roundtable on Canadian Aboriginal Literatures, edited by Renate Eigenbrod and Jo-Ann Episkenew, Bearpaw Publishing and Theytus Books, 2002. pp. 235-253.

Fagan, Kristina. “Adoption and National Fantasy in Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven and Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners.” Imagining Adoption: Essays on Literature and Culture, edited by Marianne Novy, Michigan UP, 2001, pp. 251-266.

Papers in Refereed Journals:

Bidwell, Kristina Fagan, and Jessica McDonald. “The Newfoundland Master Narrative and Michael Crummey's Galore: An Interpretive Framework.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d'études Canadiennes, vol. 54, no. 1, Winter/hiver 2020, pp.153-180. 

Bidwell, Kristina Fagan, and Adar Charlton. “‘Structured Relationalism in the Classroom: A Collaborative Approach to Teaching Indigenous Literatures." Forthcoming in Studies in American Indian Literature.

Fagan, Kristina. “What Stories Do: A Response to Episkenew” in “Thinking Together: A Forum on Jo-Ann Episkenew’s Taking Back Our Spirits: Indigenous Literature, Public Policy, and Healing.” Canadian Literature, vol. 214, Autumn 2012, pp. 109–116.

Fagan, Kristina. “‘Well Done Old Half Breed Woman’: Lydia Campbell and the Labrador Literary Tradition.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, vol. 48, no. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 49-76.

Fagan, Kristina. “Weesageechak Meets the Weetigo: Storytelling, Humour, and Trauma in the Fiction of Richard Van Camp, Tomson Highway, and Eden Robinson.” Studies in Canadian Literature, vol. 34, no. 1, 2009, pp. 204-226.

Fagan, Kristina, with Stephanie Danyluk, Bryce Donaldson, Amelia Horsburgh, Robyn Moore, and Martin Winquist. “Reading the Reception of Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2009, pp. 257-281.

Fagan, Kristina, Daniel Justice, Keavy Martin, Sam McKegney, Deanna Reder, and Niidonwedom Sinclair. “Canadian Indigenous Literary Nationalism.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2009, pp. 19-44. 

Fagan, Kristina. “The Delicate Dance of Reasoning and Togetherness.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, vol. 20, no. 2, Summer 2008, pp. 77-101.

Fagan, Kristina and Sam McKegney. “Circling the Question of Nationalism in Native Canadian Literature and its Study.” Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas, vol. 41, no. 1, May 2008, pp. 31–42.

Fagan, Kristina. “Tewatatha:wi: Aboriginal Nationalism in Taiaiake Alfred’s Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto.” American Indian Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 1, Winter/Spring 2004, pp. 12-29.


Aboriginal Metis indigenous literature storytelling writing