English Student Society Ice-Breaker

Maybe the University of Waterloo English Society socials in the fall and winter weren’t your thing; maybe you need a bit more of an ice-breaker. Perhaps a board games night is more your style? Fortunately, the UW English Society is hosting one! Operation? Settlers of Catan? Candyland? Clue? (Please leave Professor Plum out of this, though.) Here’s your chance to break them all out and meet new people.

Where: Hagey Hall 235
When: Thursday, May 26, 7pm
Bonus: Free snacks
You can bring your own games. You can even bring your own friends–they don’t have to be in English or Arts to attend!

Top Ten Words in Place Posts

Our English department blog, Words in Place, will be five years old this fall! Can you guess which posts have garnered the most traffic over that time? You would think it might be something about awards, or our co-op program, or networking events for alumni and students, but the internet is more fickle. With over twenty thousand hits between them, here are our top ten posts: eclectic, unusual, and entertaining.

10) Fifty Children’s Picture Books with Interesting Heroines

9) Students request Tolkien class; it’s already under the tree

8) One Sentence Competition 2014: Game ON!

7) Undergraduate Claire Matlock: a less conventional path

6) Introducing new faculty member Stephanie White

5) 7 Oddities of Hagey Hall

4) 10 Children’s Picture Books about Refugees

3) CBC reports: Canada Goose “Spawn of Satan” terrorizes Hagey Hall

2) Turkey Demolishes Hagey Hall

1) Have you heard? Harry Potter is coming to UWaterloo

Photo courtesy of UWaterloo Goose Watch.

Nasra Mumin: from Science to English


I would have never guessed that fourth-year UW English student Nasra Mumin started out in science–she is such a strong English student. I’m not the only one who thinks so; she’s received an honorable mention for a senior essay award, and was selected for a highly competitive internship at The New Quarterly, an important Canadian literary magazine. Read on to find out what she’s learned, enjoyed, and planned. Thank you to Nasra for participating in Words in Place!–JLH

JLH: Was English at UWaterloo a logical choice for you?
NM: Not always! When I was applying to UWaterloo, English Literature wasn’t one of the programs I was considering. I was actually a Science major for the first three years of my undergrad and finally made the switch to English last summer. I took English courses as electives throughout my first three years and found myself becoming more and more disillusioned with my biology classes –partially because frog embryology couldn’t compare to Walt Whitman, but also because the large class structure and rigid nature of the program was quite limiting and restrictive. I’ve always had a strong affinity for literature –I spent a sizable portion of my first year in the public library reading books –however, I was never confident in my skills in English literature beyond a mere hobby, so, it took a lot of introspection and back and forth to really be sure in my decision to switch majors. Now being an English major seems almost hyperreal in a sense because I’m finally doing the thing I envisioned myself doing for so long. I am genuinely enjoying every moment of it!

JLH: You have a somewhat complicated course load: has it been difficult to balance?
NM: I’m in fourth year so I’m at the point of culmination; actually, in two senses because I’m also at the end of the semester and close to finals. Essentially, between classes, interning at The New Quarterly and other projects, I’ve just been trying to outline a schedule for myself with respects to deadlines –although I don’t always follow it, I have managed to stay afloat! It’s interesting though, because, in an odd way, I sort of thrive off of being busy or chaotic. That rush you feel during those intense moments and the pride afterwards when you’ve managed to finish those tasks are really rewarding; it almost seems to bring me a sense of purpose or sacrality.

JLH: What have been some of the highlights of your undergrad to date?
NM: I’m always bad at being able to pick out highlights because I think so much of my university career –and my life in general – has been about the process as a whole rather than individual moments. I’ve just changed and grown in innumerable ways –mostly good –and it feels really interesting and nostalgic to consider how much I’ve traversed and experienced through these few years. I suppose if I had to consider one sort of “highlight” of undergrad it would be understanding the distinction between information and knowledge, which I’ve really come to appreciate. It’s really interesting to consider the ways that a lot of my perceptions of university was based on the tangible and was guided by a rote-like way of learning, whereas now I see knowledge in a much more self-reflective and incorporeal way that’s really profoundly –and positively –affected my consciousness and quality of life.

JLH: Is there one course you would suggest every English student take?
NM: There are so many courses I would recommend, I’m really happy with the calibre of UW’s English courses. Since I can’t narrow it to one, I will say three that have profoundly impacted my understanding of literature. The first is ENGL 335: Creative Writing 1 with Claire Tacon. The course really allowed me to experiment with different forms of writing, and its workshop structure created a fun and collaborative environment. The second course I’d recommend is ENGL 463: Postcolonial Literatures, I took this course last term with Heather Smyth and we examined works from Australia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, using the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report as a framework for discussing notions of healing, trauma and decolonization. The last course would be the one I am currently taking with Jennifer Harris, ENGL 486: African American Literature. In this seminar, we’ve examined so many wonderful texts and had really insightful discussions on Black identity, representation and resistance –whilst listening to awesome music! I know the seminar courses change around a lot, but if African American literature is ever offered I highly suggest everyone take it!

JLH: What is next for you?
NM: This seems to be the ultimate question for every fourth year student. I graduate in October so I I’m still in the midst of carving out the end of my undergrad. I am interested in pursuing further studies in Graduate School, although I haven’t narrowed down what exactly my research interests will entail –possibly regarding race and identity, since I’m really fascinated by all of the courses I’ve taken that have discussed these concepts. I’m just trying to really cultivate a path that is the most reflective and authentic to who I am, hopefully, that becomes a reality in the not-so distant future.

English Career Networking Event

Thinking of changing jobs? Graduating soon and starting your career? Wondering how to market your English degree? Here’s your chance to network with friendly English alumni with ties to the local high-tech industry in an informal social setting. Representatives from OpenText, Google, Communitech, Microsoft, D2L, and more will be there, not to mention English professors (maybe yours?) and students. Concerned you won’t know how to start a conversation? Don’t worry, there will be amazing student projects on show, guaranteed conversation starters (see image above). Still feeling shy? Bring a friend: it’s only $20, it’s the Tannery, and there will be food. You never know what it might mean for your future.

More information–including how to buy tickets (and please do!)–is here.


A congressing we go…

It’s spring: the geese are patrolling campus, the coffee shops are keeping shorter hours, the excavators are busy, and UWaterloo English faculty and graduate students are heading for Congress, the annual meeting of many academic associations in Canada. Phil Miletic, president of the English graduate student association (SAGE), will be presenting a paper titled: “‘And now everybody will do theirs’: Remediating Everybody’s Autobiography as a Radio Event.”Kate Lawson, the chair of our department–and recent winner of an OCUFA award–will be presenting on Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley, as well as participating in a Grad Caucus Panel, “Professionalization within/beyond Academia.” Keely Cronin–another member of the SAGE executive–will be presenting “Tweeting Barriers: Indigenous Narratives, Canada Reads, and Digital Debate.” Interested in “Designing Videogames for Knowledge Translation”? Recent PhD graduate Steve Wilcox is presenting on exactly that. For more participants and titles, from “Ploche, Uberscheme” to Cultural Geography and Game Studies, see our online list.

Photo credit: Eric Jardin

Keep those award nominations coming


Congratulations to UWaterloo English’s Dr. Sarah Tolmie, whose novel The Stone Boatmen (Aqueduct 2014) was nominated for the 2015 Crawford Award. This comes on the heels of the announcement that her poetry collection Trio (McGill-Queens UP, 2015) was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. And just this week Aqueduct announced the publication of Tolmie’s Two Travelers, a pair of portal fictions. Of this newest volume Publishers Weekly writes:

Author and professor Tolmie (The Stone Boatmen) delivers an exquisite duo of short stories in this slim volume…. Rich with detail, both stories are imbued with baroque sensibilities, a refreshing deviation from the typical medieval setting. Rather than relying on pure exposition, Tolmie uses the characters’ interactions and personalities to bring color to the unique magic of each setting. Tolmie’s investigations of identity, place, and personal meaning are a delight to read and a great contribution to the genre.

For more information, including how to order, visit the McGill-Queens UP and Aqueduct sites.

National Literary Magazine on Waterloo Campus

TNQ 136 Front Cover
Did you know that there’s an award-winning literary magazine housed at St. Jerome’s University, at the University of Waterloo? And that English students sometimes intern there? And that you can submit your own writing? Find out more about
The New Quarterly, its recent award nominations, and its upcoming writing festival in this guest post by Alister Thomas. –JLH

The New Quarterly and Wild Writers Festival Cover All Things Literary

One of Canada’s most decorated literary magazines resides in Waterloo, and it’s been here for 35 years. The New Quarterly (TNQ) has won 10 gold and seven silver medals and had 29 honourable mentions in the 16 years that it has participated in the National Magazine Awards.

On May 2, 2016, TNQ added two more nominations. For fiction, it was Elisabeth Harvor’s “Ice Woman.” For poetry, it was Michael Prior’s “Murmuration; Fathom; Hibernal Country.” The winners will be announced on June 10 in Toronto.

Last year Tamas Dobozy won the gold medal in fiction for “Krasnagorsk-2,” which was published in TNQ’s war issue.

Later this year, The New Quarterly is launching a new book. Falling In Love with Poetry was edited by Kim Jernigan, UWaterloo alumna and former longtime TNQ editor who in 2014 received the National Magazine Awards’ highest individual award, the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Falling in Love with Poetry features lively and varied essays. “Twenty-seven Canadian poets speak about the poems that summoned them to poetry and influenced the kind of poet, and reader, they became,” says Jernigan in her introduction.

“This is a book for those already under the spell of poetry, but also for those who aren’t, because we are told again and again to put aside our anxiety about what a poem means, about its vocabulary of allusion and symbol and even its narrative thrust, and to experience it instead as sound and feeling, something that engages bodily and emotionally first and foremost and only laterally, if at all, as the communication of an idea.”

tnq 138

Drawing on poets from across Canada, more than one-third of the contributors have roots in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. They include Chris Banks, Tristanne Connolly, Rae Crossman, Gary Draper, Lesley Elliott, Amanda Jernigan, Miriam Maust (a UWaterloo English alumna), Alison Pick, John Vardon, and David Waltner-Toews.

Then this fall, November 4 to 6, TNQ will host the fifth annual Wild Writers Literary Festival (WWF), Waterloo Region’s premier literary event. It will be a grand celebration called 35&5 — TNQ came into this world in 1981 and WWF arose in 2012. “35&5 will be a must-attend event,” says TNQ editor Pamela Mulloy.

The New Quarterly (www.tnq.ca), small but feisty, is the only literary magazine to be shortlisted in such diverse categories as Sports Writing, Arts & Entertainment, How-To and Best Single Issue. And yes, it is published four times a year.

For more information, contact:
TNQ editor Pamela Mulloy at pmulloy@newquarterly.net; 519-884-8111 ext. 28290
TNQ managing editor Sophie Blom at sblom@newquarterly.net