CW Mills

CW Mills

The C. Wright Mills Memorial Speakers Series


Charles Wright Mills (1916-1962) was born in Waco, Texas and received his BA and MA from the University of Texas at Austin. Later he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. Mills taught at various universities including the University of Maryland and ultimately became a professor at Columbia University in New York. As a radical US political sociologist, his works laid bare the power structures of modern capitalist America. In White Collar (1951) Mills examined the changes that had occurred in the nature of the American middle class since the early 19th Century while The Power Elite (1956) identified a largely self-perpetuating group that dominated society. This group, which he called the power elite, was comprised of the top elites in the government, the military and large corporations. One of his best-known works was The Sociological Imagination (1959) that many sociologists believe defines what sociology is all about.

Focus of Speakers Series:

The series brought social scientists from across North America to offer a public presentation (and to meet with faculty, students, and classes whenever possible) on their research and/or their efforts to explore any issue of contemporary social significance. The series ran annually between 2005 and 2015.

Series Sponsors:

The series was sponsored by Bruce Ravelli, and at times, Pearson Education Canada, the Student’s Association of Mount Royal University and the Arts Scholarly Events Council of Mount Royal.

2005 (Inaugural Presentation):

Date:October 11, 2005
Location:Lincoln Park Room
Presenter:Kate Mills, daughter of C.W. Mills

Kate Mills (Director of Contracts, Trade & Reference Division for publisher Houghton Mifflin) traveled from her home in Boston to read from her book that she edited with her sister, Pamela Mills entitled, C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings

The evening began with Bruce Ravelli offering some sociological context to Mills contributions while Kate presented personal reflections on her father and the broader social significance of his work. The evening was a perfect way to kick off the series.


Date:October 5, 2006
Location:Lincoln Park Room
Presenter:Dr. Michael Atkinson, McMaster University

Dr. Atkinson’s research into tattoo culture is recognized by fellow academics as leading edge as was confirmed when he was awarded the 2004 SSHRC Aurora Prize for top young researcher in ANY discipline. SSHRC states that the award is in recognition of “an outstanding new researcher who is building a reputation for exciting and original research in the social sciences or humanities.”


Date:October 18, 2007
Location:Lincoln Park Room
Presenter:Professor Bill McCarthy, University of California, Davis

Dr. McCarthy is the author of Mean Streets: Youth Crime and Homelessness, which won the C. Wright Mills and Michel J. Hindelang book awards. His research on Canadian and American juvenile crime and homicide has been published in the leading sociology and criminology journals, including the Annual Review of Sociology, the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Criminology and the Law and Society Review.


Date:October 3, 2008
Location:Wright Theatre
Presenter: Sam Dunn, Anthropologist and Film Maker

Sam is an anthropologist with publications in a wide-range of academic and arts-related journals. His most recent work investigates heavy metal culture through the documentary films Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2006) and Global Metal (2008). Feel free to visit Sam’s company website at:


Date:October 29, 2009
Location:Ross Glenn Hall (EC1050)
Presenter: Dr. Sherene Razack, University of Toronto

Dr. Razack is a a professor of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching interests lie in the area of race and gender issues in the law. Her courses include: Race, Space and Citizenship; Race and Knowledge Production and Racial Violence and the Law. Her most recent book is entitled Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims From Western Law and Politics. (University of Toronto Press, 2008). She has also published Dark Threats and White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping and the New Imperialism (University of Toronto Press, 2004), an edited collection Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping A White Settler Society (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002), Looking White People in the Eye: Gender, Race, and Culture in Courtrooms and Classrooms (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998,1999, 2000) and Canadian Feminism and the Law: The Womens Legal and Education Fund and the Pursuit of Equality (Toronto: Second Story Press, 1991).


Date:October 18, 2010
Location:Ross Glenn Hall (EC1050)
Presenter: Dr. Daniel Jaffee, Washington State University

Dr. Jaffees book, Brewing Justice, won the prestigious C. Wright Mills Award by the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 2008. His current research focuses on several areas: the contested politics of fair trade and other alternative agri-food movements; responses to the effects of neoliberal policies on rural communities in Mexico and Latin America; and the commodification of common resources, particularly water.


Date:February 1, 2012
Location:EA 1031 (moot Court)
Presenter: Dr. Becki Ross, Chair, Women’s and Gender Studies, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia

Abstract: First, I explore the role of erotic entertainment burlesque and striptease in the economic and cultural growth and development of postwar Vancouver, 1945-1980. I challenge critics who dismiss bump and grind as a salacious side-note; rather, business insiders (ex-dancers, choreographers, club owners, staff, and musicians) built a robust, diverse, and lucrative arena of saucy performance in the face of cultural anxieties about urban amusements, gender, sexuality, race, and moral indecency. Second, I shift from my socio-historical study of striptease to my current research into the expulsion of on-street prostitutes from the West End of gay Vancouver after a B.C. Supreme Court injunction in 1984. I examine the pitched battles between a once lively, pimp-free, racially diverse community of female, male, and trans hookers on Davie Street, and anti-prostitution crusaders, including residents groups, journalists, business owners, politicians, and police. I argue that the acute legal, moral, and social peril faced by sex workers almost 30 years ago foreshadows the contemporary slaughter of bodies deemed disposable’.


Date: November 22, 2012
Location: Lincoln Park Room, Mount Royal University
Presenter: Bruce Chambers, radio host and journalist

Abstract: Marketers play an active role in marginalizing some groups (like women). They then win the allegiance of marginalized groups (like women, the LGBT community and visible minorities) by seeming to champion the groups’ rights or inclusion in society. After being negatively portrayed or ignored by the media for so long, these groups often feel grateful to be acknowledged and valued in mainstream advertising. This creates a positive image for the advertiser and loyalty for its products.


Date: October 25, 2013
Location: HSD Room A240, University of Victoria
Time:2:30-4:30pm (includes Q&A)
Presenter: Dr. Timothy J. Haney

Abstract: Our cities and communities are becoming more vulnerable to catastrophic events, due to a combination of climate change, demographic shifts, economic turmoil, and geopolitical instability. In the coming decades, social scientists will have to concern themselves more and more with events that were previously understood as rare or unlikely. Dr. Haney will be speaking about how disasters, which are by definition abnormal events, can teach us important lessons about the everyday social world (including social inequalities), as well as the important insights that sociology has to offer about extreme events.


Date: March 16, 2015
Location: David Strong Building Room C103, University of Victoria
Time:2:00-4:00pm (includes Q&A)
Presenter: Dr. Adam Jones

Abstract: Join us for Dr. Jones personal journey of discovery as he travels the world and sees the very worst and the very best of the human condition.

You can watch video clips from a few of the talks at: