Dena Taylor

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Interview with Dena Taylor conducted by Ruth Belay

25 February 2020 | A2020-0010/013S | Transcript (PDF) | Listen

Interview description

Dr. Dena Bain Taylor, a retired faculty member in the Department of English at the University of Toronto, attended the University at its St. George campus as both an undergraduate and graduate student. While the interview touches on the early experiences Taylor had as a student, it focuses on the period between 1968 to 1973 when she was a resident of Rochdale College. She describes the foundation and structure of the residence, including identifying key individuals, concurrent initiatives, funding sources, and the external issues that shaped the residence. Throughout the interview, Taylor reflects on the philosophical underpinnings that were central to the collective ethos of the space and its genesis as a centre for experiential learning, activism, arts, spirituality, experimentation and place-making. The interview captures aspects of Rochdale’s impact, including the activities of involved individuals, the influence of American political thought, as well as the organizations and initiatives that were developed there. Taylor speaks to some of the issues that surfaced in the residence such as sexism, sexuality, and mental health, as well as how these issues were portrayed in the media. In discussing her own experiences and reflecting on the broader significance of the College, Taylor details and questions how the residence fundamentally challenged the status-quo.

 

Organizations

  • Rochdale College
  • Hart House, University of Toronto
  • Indian Institute
  • Campus Co-operative
  • Toronto Community Housing

Subject Topics

  • Experiential learning
  • Alternative education
  • Co-operative and collective models
  • Housing
  • Toronto urban planning
  • Counter-culture
  • Arts
  • Back-to-the-land movement
  • Financial access to post-secondary education
  • Sexual freedom
  • Draft evasion
  • Spadina Expressway
 

Citation: University of Toronto Archives. Oral History Collection on Student Activism. Oral history interview with Dena Taylor conducted by Ruth Belay, 25 February 2020. A2020-0010/013S.