Letter of Support from Hannah McGregor

Tenure and Promotion Committee

Thompson Rivers University
805 TRU Way
Kamloops BC
Canada V2C 0C8

Dear Members of the Tenure and Promotion Committee,

I am writing this letter in support of Dr. Brenna Clarke Gray’s application for tenure and promotion to Instructional Support II in the Department of Learning Design and Innovation at Thompson Rivers University. My focus is on the breadth, richness, and scholarly contributions of Brenna’s work as a podcaster. I write in my role as the co-director of the SSHRC Partnership Development Grant-funded Amplify Podcast Network, co-creator of the popular scholarly podcast Witch, Please, founder and former host of the SSHRC Partnership Grant-funded SpokenWeb Podcast, and creator of the SSHRC-funded and peer-reviewed podcast Secret Feminist Agenda.

Brenna’s podcasting work is exemplary of the way podcasting can be taken up as a medium for publicly engaged scholarship, public pedagogy, and community building. Her first foray into podcasting was her long-running show Hazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr, a young adult literature and film podcast that boasts over 200 episodes (and counting!). On this podcast, Brenna models her typical approach to public scholarship, crafting a scholarly voice that is both warmly engaging and deeply rigorous, while embracing the affordances of new media to reach wider audiences. Reviewers describe it as striking “a beautiful chord between celebration, critical thinking, thoughtful interrogation, and in some cases nostalgia that make this a wildly accessible podcast for anyone interested in YA storytelling” and as creating a great resource for high school teachers that is also accessible to teens.

The accessibility of Hazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr is characteristic of the way Brenna centres pedagogy in everything she does—and was at the heart of my decision to include her in the first season of podcasters for the Amplify Podcast Network, alongside Daniel Heath Justice, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture. The podcast Brenna is developing for Amplify, Community of Praxis, features interviews with digital pedagogy experts like Maha Bali, Sherri Spellic, and Audrey Watters, bringing together rich theoretical engagements with pedagogical theory and attention to the practicalities of teaching as an activity grounded in the material conditions of the classroom. It promises to be an enduring resource for teachers and learners alike.

As is typical of Brenna’s passionate commitment to public pedagogy and capacity building, however, she was not satisfied with merely creating her own podcasts. Instead, in her role at TRU she has focused on using podcasting to build community within the institution while also providing resources for other scholars who may want to make their own podcasts. To this end, she created You Got This!, featuring interviews with faculty and staff across TRU about their classroom activities and educational praxis that build connections across frequently siloed academic disciplines. She has also become a vocal advocate for scholarly podcasting, contributing to various educational initiatives to support new podcasters; she was a guest on the journal BC Studies’ podcast series The BC Studies Podcast: An Introduction to Scholarly Podcasting, and she created the Introductory Podcasting Masterclass for TRU, a resource-rich and self- directed introduction to podcasting for scholars that has also seen significant uptake from beyond the TRU community.

Amazingly, scholarly podcasting is not Brenna’s primary or sole focus, but rather one of many outlets for her passionate commitment to public scholarship and pedagogy and to building capacity for digital scholarship in everything she does. I believe that Brenna is one of the foremost public intellectuals working in the field of critical digital pedagogy today, and TRU is extremely lucky to have her.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at hannah_mcgregor@sfu.ca.


Hannah McGregor
Associate Professor, Publishing Simon Fraser University