Jane Nicholas

Associate Professor


Jane Nicholas

Dr. Jane Nicholas is an associate professor of History and Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies.  She is a Canadian gender and women’s historian, specializing in the history of the body.  The primary aim of her work is to reveal the historical development so-called ‘natural’ categories of the body like beauty or freakery.  Her interdisciplinary research interests hover around the historically constructed categories of identity, beauty, and depictions of the ‘normal’ body by way of cultural institutions like the freak show.  Her work uses intersectional methodologies, with an eye toward questions of historical practice and ethics  A current research project, funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada Insight Grant, is called Sorrow: Child Death and Grief in Ontario, 1867-1940. It explores issues of the interembodiment of gendered violence and the relationship between the body and emotions in the lives of women and children.

She is the author of The Modern Girl: Feminine Modernities, The Body, and Commodities in the 1920s (University of Toronto Press, 2015) and Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900-1970s (University of Toronto Press, 2018). In addition, she has edited two books: Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History (University of Toronto Press, 2013) with Patrizia Gentile, and Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education: Critical Theory and Practice (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2015) with Tracy Penny Light and Renee Bondy. Recent articles have been published in the Journal of Social History, The Journal of Curatorial Studies, the Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth, and Histoire sociale/Social History among others. She has contributed chapters to Making Men, Making History: Canadian Masculinities across Time and Place (UBC Press), Bringing Children and Childhood into Canadian History: The Difference Kids Make (Oxford University Press), and Consuming Modernity: Changing Gendered Behaviours and Consumerism, 1919-1940 (UBC Press) among other collections.  Recent media contributions include “Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body” for the Society for the History of Children and Youth’s podcast and “The Flapper and the Modern Girl,” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Ideas.


  • BA Lakehead University, 1999
  • MA Queen's University, 2000
  • PhD University of Waterloo, 2007

Research and teaching interests

  • History of the body in Canada
  • Women's and gender history
  • Feminist pedagogy