• B.A. (Mount Allison)
  • M.A. (York)
  • Ph.D. (York)
Ross MacKay


Eighteenth-century (Satire, Swift), Romantics (especially Blake), Nineteenth-century British literature (Scott), history and literature, narrative discourse, media and politics, propaganda.


My interest at the moment is the work of the poet and painter, William Blake, and my goal is to develop a book-length study of his work.  I am currently revising a manuscript called Rational Fiction: Historical Representation in Scott and Hogg, a study of the particular ways that historical subjects are represented in specifically fictional narratives, focussing on the works of Walter Scott and his contemporary, James Hogg.  I hope to complete this revision by the summer of 2012.  I try to take seriously my responsibility as a teacher to understand the function of power and politics in society and to report on my findings; accordingly I have been engaged over the years with various activist organizations.

Notes toward a teaching philosophy:

  • It is my belief that education is actually a complex interchange involving the needs of individuals, institutions, and society, and that educators must be cognizant of this interaction and reflect it in their practices.
  • In my teaching I have attempted to build on this relationship by making lectures and seminars relevant to the immediate concerns of students as well as to broader social and political issues.
  • I try to see students as “citizens” (not “taxpayers”), and I encourage them to resist defining themselves in narrow, market-based terms as “consumers.”
  • I believe that education is fundamental to democracy, and therefore deserves as much, if not more, social and financial support as, for instance, the military.
  • I consider writing and communica­tion skills the foundation of all education.
  • I am acutely aware that the ideas and values which students develop in university will one day be put into action, and therefore I accept the responsibility bestowed upon me to facilitate this process by encouraging student participation and collaboration.  I also consider this responsibility a privilege.
  • I believe that there is no better way for students to enhance and develop their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills than through a liberal arts education in general, and through a study of literature in particular.
  • I endeavour to convey my own enthusiasm for learning, and to create a classroom setting open to the ideas of others.
  • In the context of life-long learning, I consider myself a student, and thus I try to remain open to new ideas and strategies — particularly those related to enhancing the quality of my teaching.

“Silence is assent” — The Talmud.

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