Shane D. Neilson
Photo: Colin Czerneda

Talent Award Winner

Shane D. Neilson

Department of English and Cultural Studies
McMaster University

To have a prestigious scholarly body say, ‘Hey, you have a good idea here, keep going!’ gave me encouragement at a key crossroads in my life.
I'd like to point to the broader humanities context in which I was allowed to flourish. That context depends on SSHRC support for the journals and monograph publishers that disseminate our research, as well as the institutes, conferences and symposia that allow us to gather and collaborate.


Dr. Shane Neilson has dedicated his career to patient recovery, first as a medical doctor-poet, now, as a SSHRC Vanier Scholar exploring how pain can be understood and described, and how it can be treated in ways beyond opiates.  

An adjunct professor of family medicine at McMaster University, Dr. Neilson is also a physician at the University of Guelph’s Student Health Services.

His PhD studies at McMaster’s English and Cultural Studies Department address the complexities of chronic pain, including its expression as experience. Seeing pain as both a medical and cultural issue, Dr. Neilson studies how it is represented in Canadian literature, as well as how such representations can be used as part of the path to recovery.

His pain research has already been published in journals, collections and the press. He has also presented his findings to the American Medical Association, through a series of workshops for doctors and medical students, and in his own TedX talk.

A poet and literary critic, Dr. Neilson has published numerous books. Poetry in his “affect trilogy” from The Porcupine’s Quill (Complete Physical, On Shaving Off His Face, and Dysphoria) bring forth the intersubjective nature of pain in unique ways.

His interdisciplinary model of “medical humanities,” which combines literary studies and medicine, is breaking ground for other scholars considering new tools for understanding complex problems.

About the award

The annual Impact Awards recognize the highest achievements in SSHRC-funded research, knowledge mobilization and scholarship, as well as the highest achievements resulting from a SSHRC fellowship awarded.

The Talent Award recognizes outstanding research achievement and career potential from a SSHRC doctoral or postdoctoral fellowship or scholarship holder.