Chana Algarvio (she/her)

Nominated by member scholarly associations of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the 2022 Congress Graduate Merit Awards recognize exceptional graduate students who will be presenting their work at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Photo of Chana Algarvio, CGMA recipient


Tell us about yourself.

I am a Master of Information candidate at the University of Toronto pursuing Library Science and Book History & Print Culture. My research primarily focuses on ancient Egyptian book culture and its use of stone, wood, and papyrus as substrates, as well as its neglect and skewed perception in book history. 

List the scholarly association(s) of which you are currently a member. 

  • Bibliographical Society of Canada
  • Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • American Research Center in Egypt 

At which conference(s) will you be presenting and/or attending? 

Bibliographical Society of Canada

What is the title of your Congress 2022 presentation?  

Ancient Egyptian Religion and Funerary Practices: Examining the Iconography of the Cartonnage Papyri at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

How would you describe the research you will be presenting at Congress 2022?

I will be examining the papyrus collections held at the Fisher Library primarily for their iconographic content and what they reveal about ancient Egyptian religion and funerary practices during the Ptolemaic Period (305–30 BCE), a time when Greeks ruled over Egypt. Most of the papyri are examples of cartonnage—layers of linen and/or papyri pasted together with plaster and painted upon to be placed atop the mummy for burial. Since Ptolemaic cartonnage in particular reused administrative and epistolary papyri, according to Egyptological tradition, I will also briefly examine some of the texts to determine whether literary papyri is as well evident. 

How does the research you will be presenting connect with the Congress 2022 theme, Transitions

While the field of book history has gradually become more open to accepting other book forms and media aside from the quintessential Western codex made of paper or parchment, there is still much room for improvement that can be facilitated through interdisciplinary dialogue. My research tackles the theme of Transitions by moving away from cemented Western bias and reimagining books through an Egyptological lens, which involves topics such as the book and the body, repurposing books for art, and unbound manuscripts. Through my research I hope that book historical scholarship is able to transition to a more inclusive understanding of the history of the book by acknowledging other fields that intersect with book studies to further challenge cemented Western notions of the book. 

Share your hopes for Congress 2022. 

I look forward to sharing my work with those in and outside my field, creating new connections and opportunities to engage in critical discussions to reshape instilled conceptions. It is my hope that a new awareness will take place to foster change.