Jim Ellis teaches sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry and prose. His work on early modern literature explores how narrative poetry participates in nation formation and the construction of national belonging, particularly through its re-imaginings of subjectivity and sexuality. Courses he teaches in this area explore literature within the context of major cultural, intellectual and political trends.
He has also published widely on film, and was a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Calgary Cinematheque (www.calgarycinema.org). His research on film focuses for the most part on experimental British filmmakers such as Isaac Julien, Terence Davies, and most extensively, Derek Jarman.
His current research project is an investigation of the relations between gardens and poetry in the English renaissance. It starts by looking at the Kenilworth Revels, a nineteen-day festival staged for Elizabeth I in 1575, and goes on to consider the role of place and movement in work by Sidney, Spenser and other lesser-known figures. The project is funded by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant.
He was Acting Director of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities in 2013-2014, and will be Director of the Institute from 2015-2020.