Waterloo English’s PhD Placement Rate


It is a truth universally acknowledged that academic jobs for PhD graduates in the humanities are scarce. The Chronicle of Higher Education overflows with commentary on the same in its forums and advice columns. This isn’t to say that everyone who does a PhD in English wants an academic job. But I suspect many want to feel that at least they have a reasonable choice in the matter.

For those who do want an academic career, it’s useful to look at the data. According to the most recent MLA study, published in 2011, within roughly two years of graduating, about 32% of PhD graduates in English in Canada had secured tenure-track positions, and 24% had non-tenure-track teaching. Running the numbers more broadly, as one Chronicle blogger has, suggests that overall fewer than half of English PhDs secure tenure-track jobs. Cross-referencing that with the MLA study suggests the percentage is lower in Canada.

There are multiple ways to parse, nuance, qualify, and interrogate that data in deeply meaningful ways that speak to the profession, institutional practices, and labour issues. I encourage everyone to seek out those conversations in a variety of forums (including Hook and Eye, to which our own Dr. Aimée Morrison contributes; please feel free to post others in the comments section). My point here is to consider the basic question those PhDs seeking academic jobs want answered: how does Waterloo English compare?

The answer is: not so bad. Department chair, Dr. Fraser Easton, has been compiling data and reports: “Of the 47 graduates of the PhD through 2012, over 60% have full-time academic jobs at universities and colleges across Canada, the United States, and Asia.” Again, this statistic can be parsed in various ways, but I encourage you to check out the list of Waterloo’s PhD English graduates, and decide for yourself.


**This is not to say that we are ignoring the other 40%. Our new English graduate professionalization seminar includes components on alternative careers in and out of academics. But I’m saving that for another post.

Canadian Author Rudy Wiebe, April 15th & 16th


On April 15 at 4:00 p.m. in Hagey Hall 280 Rudy Wiebe will read from Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman (1998) and Collected Stories, 1955-2010 (2010) to be proceeded by a Q&A session. Arrive early and be eligible for door prizes from local businesses.

On April 16th at 4:30 p.m. in Hagey Hall 280, Rob Zacharias, a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, and Lacey Beer, a third year PhD candidate in the Department of English, will conduct an interview with Wiebe on Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman (1998) and Collected Stories, 1955-2010 (2010). Light refreshments and biscuits to follow.

Join our Alumni Authors at Waterloo Indie Night


April 14 – Indie Lit Night’s Triumphant Return to the Starlight Social Club– and alumni authors Evan Munday and Carrie Snyder are featured! (Carrie Snyder also occasionally teaches in the department–maybe you know her?)

Since 2007, some of Canada’s finest independent presses have been traveling to Waterloo to pair with The Starlight Social Club (47 King Street North), Words Worth Books (96 King Street South) and, now, The New Quarterly, to bring the cream of indie literature’s crop to the readers of K-W. On Monday, April 14, acclaimed independent presses Arsenal Pulp Press, Breakwater Books, Coach House Books, ECW Press and Goose Lane Editions will join super-forces to bring you, amongst other things:  – family tragedy on an ostrich farm – mathematical formulas and instruction manuals for grief – stories of adolescents navigating realms of sexuality, gender, religion and racial politics – love separated by civil war – original and provocative essays on motherhood – homespun stories of squids, chainsaws and immaculate conceptions – and much more!

The night will showcase eight short readings with a break in the middle, followed by book signings and informal conversation with the authors and presses. Everyone is welcome.

Featuring readings by:
Jonathan Bennett – The Colonial Hotel (novel, ECW Press)
Tamai Kobayashi – Prairie Ostrich (novel, Goose Lane Editions)
Evan Munday – Dial ‘M’ for Morna (young readers, ECW Press)
Sina Queyras – MxT (poetry, Coach House Books)
Nicholas Ruddock – How Loveta Got Her Baby (short stories, Breakwater Books)
Vivek Shraya – God Loves Hair (short stories, Arsenal Pulp Press)
Suzannah Showler – Failure to Thrive (poetry, ECW Press)
Carrie Snyder – The M Word (essays, Goose Lane Editions)

Monday, April 14, 2014 Starlight Social Club, 47 King Street North Waterloo, ON. Doors at 7:30 p.m., readings at 8 p.m. Free Book sales by Words Worth Books.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1428728254032254/

**Also, while we’re talking about not-to-miss events, a reminder that Sarah Tolmie is reading at the University of Waterloo bookstore on April 10th at 4:30.

Awards Season, Waterloo English-style–with photos!

IMG_2592[1]Once again, it is awards season here in English, where we celebrate the achievements of our students, undergraduate and graduate. In contrast to the grey and bluster outside there was nothing but goodwill, happiness,  and cheer inside, as evident from the view from the podium (see above). Thanks to Dr. Dorothy Hadfield for coordinating, and congratulations to all of our award winners, honorable mentions, and those nominated. More photos are below.–JLH


ENGL 251A Special Prize Exam Award:
Dominique Kelly

Hibbard Prize for Shakespeare:
Isabelle Cote (winner);
Renee Serez (honourable mention)

Canadian Literature Prize:
Natalie Dewan

Award in American Literature and Culture:
Laura Bayer

Dugan Prize in Literature:
Mark Lubberts (winner);
Olivia Vanderwal (honourable mention)

Albert Shaw Poetry Prize:
Rebecca McElrea

Dugan Prize in Rhetoric and Professional Writing:
Aaron Hernandez

History and Theory of Rhetoric Award:
Lindsay Kroes (winner);
Andrew Clubine (runner-up)


Rhetoric and Professional Writing Award:
Sarah Rodrigues (winner);
Julie Funk (runner-up)

Rhetoric and Digital Design Award:
Pravneet Bilkhu (winner);
Jenine Paul (runner-up)

Beltz Essay Prize, MA: Farrah Nakhaie
Beltz Essay Prize, PhD: Doug Sikkema

Second Year Spring: Kathleen Moritz


Second Year Fall: Alexandra Siebert
Third Year: Lindsay Kroes
Fourth Year: Alana Rigby

MA: Farrah Nakhaie


PhD: Virginia Shay
Jack Grey Award: Elise Vist

Quarry Integrated Communication Co-op English Award: Colette Henry
Co-op Work Report Award: Kathleen Moritz
Graduate Co-op Work Report Award: Catherine Zagar

TA Award for Excellence in Teaching: Christine Horton
Independent Graduate Instructor Award for Excellence in
Teaching: Kyle Malashewski



English Society Creative Writing Award for Prose: Sarasvathi Kannan


English Society Creative Writing Award for Poetry: Raphael T. Redmond Fernandes
Graduate Creative Writing Award for Prose: Christopher Lawrence
Graduate Creative Writing Award for Poetry: Morteza Dehghani

Watch TEDx talks by Waterloo English Professors


Dr. Marcel O’Gorman, of Waterloo’s English department, recently gave a TEDx talk titled “Critical Digital Engagement” at Trent University, which is now available online. You might also enjoy previous TEDx talks by Dr. Beth Coleman, “Hello Avatar” and “City as Platform” delivered at Middlebury (here) and TEDx East (here). Together Dr. Coleman and Dr. O’Gorman oversee Waterloo English’s Critical Media Lab.

English Graduate Student Colloquium, 2014


Thank you to Sarah Gibbons for this guest post on the 2014 English Graduate Student Colloquium. I was fortunate to attend the morning portion and was impressed by the range and depth of investigation. –JLH

On Friday, March 21, the Students Association for Graduates in English (SAGE) hosted our annual colloquium. This year, I had the pleasure of helping to organize the event with Colloquium Coordinator Dani Stock and a very dedicated planning committee.

Our theme this year was transgression and control. We were interested in thinking about emerging technologies, increased surveillance, and the circulation of power through discursive and bodily norms. Our many questions included:

“What is produced by the tension between transgression and control? How do these tensions shape the bodies and spaces involved? What technologies and strategies are used to regulate and subvert normativity? How does the impulse to control – to regularize and classify – interact with the impulse to transgress? How does one move (or not move) within sites of conflict? When is a body the site of conflict?”

We knew that our colleagues had answers to these questions, as well as deeper questions, and we were interested in finding out how students approaching English studies from multiple perspectives would address our concerns. We wanted to know how writers had negotiated authority in earlier periods, how rhetorics of resistance take shape, and how new technologies change our relationships to systems of authority. We were very excited to welcome Dr. Morgan Holmes, Associate Professor of Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, as our keynote speaker this year. Dr. Holmes is the editor of Critical Intersex (2009) and the author of Intersex: A Perilous Difference (2007). Her work’s examination of regulatory technologies, clinical language, diagnostic labels, and the rhetoric of disorder offered valuable insight into the topics that we wanted to discuss.

The morning of the colloquium began with talks by Sarah Walker, who discussed textual authority in Chaucer’s House of Fame, and Amna Basit, who discussed the multiplicity of meaning in Wayde Compton’s 49th Parallel Psalm. Panel 2, “Adaptive Structures” interrogated dominant approaches to understanding technologies and their users. Judy Ehrentraut’s investigation of mobile technologies questioned the distinction between real and virtual to position the mobile phone as a prosthetic extension of a hybridized body. Lauren Burr examined creative misuses of social media by introducing us to the concept of Netprov, a form of literature theorized through the lens of performance studies that is networked, collaborative, and improvised in real time. Our third set of panelists furthered this discussion, with Christopher Lawrence exploring surveillance and video games through a discussion of digital rights management (DRM), and Eise Vist showing how digital artists have reimagined characters from J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to subvert the limited representations of race and gender found in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of the novel.


After lunch, Dr. Andy Houston and Paul Cegys from the Department of Drama came to speak with us about their work directing and designing the set of “From Solitary to Solidarity: Unravelling the Ligatures of Ashley Smith”. Our panel chair for this event was PhD candidate Stephen Fernandez, who worked on an exhibition for the performance entitled, “Small Acts of Repair Towards Mental Health: A Space for Engagement”. The presenters explained that the play was an auto-ethnography, as opposed to a documentary; the performers had contributed to the script by sharing their responses to Ashley’s story, and telling their own personal narratives.

Our last panel examined the body as a site of resistance. Danny Lindsay critiqued the stigma surrounding addiction in popular culture. The other two presenters explored theories of performativity, with Somayeh Kiani focusing on Patricia Powell’s novel The Pagoda and Denise Vaz exploring the embodied rhetoric of pride events.

Dr. Holmes’s talk, “Thinking Cripsitemically about Sexuality in High and Popular Culture “, traced the representations of intersexed characters in literature and film, and outlined the ways in which many representations reinscribe normative power structures through the myths that they perpetuate. Drawing on the work of Dr. Robert McRuer, Dr. Holmes outlined the possibilities of cripestemic approaches, explaining how thinking cripistemically can help us turn away from a deficit model of the body and embrace the messiness of human sexuality.

On behalf of the SAGE colloquium planning committee, I would like to thank our presenters, faculty, graduate students, and visitors for attending the event, supporting student research, and creating conversation. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

Mediashock with visiting speaker Dr. Richard Grusin, April 4


The Department of English Language and Literature is delighted to
invite all Arts faculty, staff and students to hear Richard Grusin,
Professor of English and Director of the Center for 21st-century
Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Dr. Grusin’s talk is titled “mediashock”:

This talk attempts to set out the concept of “mediashock” as a way to
try to make sense of the mood or atmosphere of shock or crisis that US
media in the 21st century work simultaneously to create and to
contain. Building on my recent work on premediation, “mediashock”
participates in the critique of representationalism that has been
intensifying in cultural, political, and media theory over the past
couple of decades.

Friday, April 4, 3:00 pm, Hagey Hall 373.