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Summer Wednesday Talk: May 17, 2023, 2-4:45pm, in-person only. Speaker: Merrill Swain Title:  “Talking Matters:  Theory, Research and Knowledge Mobilization” AND “Talking Matters” (a play) 

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May 17, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 4:45 pm

May 17, 2023, 2-4:45pm – in-person only

(non-Fellows can participate for $10)  

Speaker: Merrill Swain
Title:  Talking Matters:  Theory, Research and Knowledge Mobilization” AND “Talking Matters” (a play) 
Introducer: Daphne Maurer

Abstract of talk:  The focus of this session is to demonstrate that theory-informed research can be transformed into accessible and actionable knowledge.  A) Theory: the theoretical concept of “languaging”, set within the framework of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of mind, is the use of language as a cognitive tool, a process that mediates thinking by constructing and shaping our memories and ideas.  B) Research: I (with Dr. S. Lapkin) studied isolated older adults identified as having mild cognitive impairment to explore whether languaging enhanced their memory and cognition.  C) Knowledge Mobilization: Inspired by the research, I (with M. Engelking) wrote a play, Talking Matters.  It has since been performed in Quebec and Ontario for professional and family caregiver audiences, as well as for academic and lay audiences.  It continues to be performed in Ontario by Moving Scenes.

Synopsis of the play: Talking Matters tells the story of David and Inga, two lonely, elderly residents in a long-term care home, and their spirited caregivers.  Long-time head nurse, Bea Palmer, is charged with implementing yet another new policy aimed at improving residents’ memory and well-being, a task she accepts half-heartedly in an understaffed and overworked workplace.  It takes the young, quirky volunteer, Lizzy, to turn things around, with both expected and unexpected results.    Trailer: https://can01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fvimeo.com%2F795424483%2F426e68a9fe&data=05%7C01%7Cl.hutcheon%40utoronto.ca%7C2869ed8329c04662741a08db12aab8b2%7C78aac2262f034b4d9037b46d56c55210%7C0%7C0%7C638124296756880736%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=ASZGEjurEEjfbSPNoByib1w3ODU0ryfz4cf%2FxSLnG5s%3D&reserved=0

Bio:  Dr. Merrill Swain, Professor Emerita, worked at OISE (l972-2007) in various capacities:  researcher of French immersion programs across Canada, professor of Applied Linguistics, and Head of the Modern Language Centre (renamed Centre for Educational Research in Languages and Literacies). She has supervised approximately 90 PhD students and published widely in the field of applied linguistics and has also published in academic journals in gerontology.  She was president of the American Association of Applied Linguistics (1998-99) and has received various awards and honours including an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Vaasa in Finland (2011).  Since retiring, Merrill, along with two of her PhD graduates, published the textbook Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education:  An Introduction through Narratives (2011 & 2015).  Most recently, she has been motivated to mobilize her understanding of languaging to improve the well-being of people living with dementia.

Theatre Company: Moving Scenes is the touring part of Act 2 Studio Works, a not-for-profit theatre company.  Their plays focus on health and later life issues.  Actors, stage managers, directors and others are all volunteers who are 50+.  Moving Scenes will perform Talking Matters (approximately 50 minutes) following this talk.

Link to register: https://forms.office.com/r/KZjbC2jPMM

The deadline to register is the Monday before the event at 8:00am. 

If you have any questions, please contact the organizer – Linda Hutcheon at l.hutcheon@utoronto.ca. 


May 17, 2023
2:00 pm - 4:45 pm
Event Category:


The Faculty Club, UofT
41 Willcocks Street
Toronto, ON M5S 1C7
(416) 978-6325
View Venue Website


Linda Hutcheon