Drawn to the past and all its weirdness

PROFile: Dr. Carla Manfredi, assistant professor, English department, U of W

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From a young age, Dr. Carla Manfredi – assistant professor for the University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) English department – found herself pulled to the past.

“I’ve always been drawn to the past and to history, in part because I find it so weird,” Manfredi says. “It amazes me that we can access the distant past, that so much of that still exists for us today. So little has changed, but also so much has changed.”

Due to her interest in classical antiquity and Ancient Greece and Rome, Manfredi wanted to pursue a career in archaeology.

But, during university, Manfredi discovered that the study of archaeology would require her to learn Latin and Ancient Greek. Faced with the daunting prospect of having to learn two notoriously difficult languages, she decided to divert her academic trajectory.

Instead, she majored in English and thoroughly enjoyed her time as a student.

“I loved being in the classroom, and I guess once I graduated, I really wasn’t ready to leave the university and decided to pursue graduate work and then eventually get my doctorate,” Manfredi says.

Now, Manfredi teaches a variety of classes: everything from intro courses to honours’ level. Despite her love of literature and of the U of W community as a whole, her love for history is alive and healthy.

Most recently, Manfredi’s attention has fallen into the societies and cultures of Neanderthals. She finds it to be mind-boggling, but in the best way.

“I would like somehow to find a way to bring Neanderthals into my English literary courses. Don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m gonna figure it out somehow,” she says.

What was your worst grade in university?

“My worst grade in university was in Introduction to Geology, and it was C-.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“I have a 20-month-old little girl, so, at the moment, spare time is very precious.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“I would time travel. Then I could go see the Neanderthals.”

What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned about Neanderthals recently?

“Who knew that there was so much information in teeth? The kind of information that scientists – that paleontologists – can gather from tooth remains is (shocking) to me.”

Published in Volume 76, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 16, 2021)

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