Dr. Marcel O’Gorman on locking up your smartphone

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In case you missed it, Dr. Marcel O’Gorman of UWaterloo English has an article in The Atlantic discussing his research on digital abstinence, titled “The Case for Locking Up Your Smartphone.” An excerpt:

“Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely coined the “IKEA effect” to name the increase in value people assign to self-made products. With the Resistor Case, I’m counting on a similar effect, that students who fist construct and then choose to make use of their DIY phone lockers might be more compelled to use them. Of course, the kit will only work if the teacher provides a context for it that includes a discussion of responsible smartphone use. (The kit provides a series of cards to prompt this conversation.)

When I teach these workshops, I introduce students to the French translation of paying attention: faire attention, or “making” attention. It suggests that attention is not something to be bought or sold, but something to craft. This is a concept that could benefit anyone who considers adjusting school, work, or entertainment plans to accommodate the supposedly shorter attention spans of digital life.”

Image source here.



Leave the house!

Screenshot 2018-01-29 21.55.17It may be winter, but that’s no reason to never leave the house: consider attending one of the many winter semester events at UW English’s own Critical Media Lab, at 44 Gaukel St., Kitchener.  Check out the schedule below for details on Digital Wednesdays, salons, and other workshops. Also, keep your eyes out for calls for projects :

Tentative Term Programming:
Feb 7 – Arduino Workshop: LED Rave
(Sat) Feb 17 – Zineathon / Drinks
Feb 28 – Power of Plain Text: HTML, CSV, XML, JSON Workshop
Mar 7 – Arduino Workshop: Myoduino (Myo Armbands + Arduino!)
Mar 14 – Glitch Art Workshop
Mar 21 – Meme Stream
Mar 28 – Electronic Printmaking Workshop

*Events may be subject to change. For more information, see the Critical Media Lab page.

Bakelite & the end of the world: A Reading

Friday, February 2nd: why not venture over to St. Jerome’s (SJ1 3027) for a reading by fiction writer, poet, and dramatist Kate Cayley at 4:30pm? Her first collection of short fiction, How You Were Born, won the Trillium Book Award and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Her first collection of poetry, When This World Comes to an End, was shortlisted for the ReLit Award. Her second collection of poetry, Other Houses, was recently published by Brick Books. She was a playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre from 2009-2017, and wrote two plays for Tarragon, After Akhmatova and The Bakelite Masterpiece, which had its American premiere in 2016 and will be produced again at the New Repertory Theater in Boston this spring. She is currently working on This Is Nowhere, commissioned by Zuppa Theatre, and her first novel.

The opening act will be Tina Blair Fang. The readings are free and all are welcome. Please spread the word!

Good news for graduate students!

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Incoming *domestic PhD funding increased to $100,000 over four years

The Faculty of Arts offers increased funding in 2018 to help prospective doctoral students overcome financial barriers with $100,000 paid over four years. This is the minimum guaranteed amount for all incoming domestic PhD students; some students may receive additional funding. Read more about PhD funding.

Incoming *domestic research-based MA funding topped-up by $5,000

The Faculty of Arts offers additional funding to exceptional domestic students entering a research masters program in 2018. Eligible students must have achieved a GPA of 85% or higher in their previous two years of study. Read more about MA funding.

*Domestic students: You are a domestic student if you are a Canadian citizen, living in or outside of Canada; or, if you are a Permanent Resident of Canada.

Image credit: Eric Jardin

Critical Media Lab wants YOU!

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The forecast for Wednesday, January 31st is a balmy zero degrees. That’s balmy by January standards: why not take advantage of the thaw by venturing out at 6pm for the Critical Media Lab’s Salon Series? Matt White and Julie Funk will be sharing their dynamic research projects: here’s your chance to see our English students are up to in the 44 Gaukel Space.

Science and Rhetoric in Eighteenth-Century Britain

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The Department of English Language and Literature is proud to announce “Science and Rhetoric in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” a talk by Dr. Peter Walmsley to take place Friday January 26, 3:00-5:00pm in HH 373. All are welcome to attend.


In ways evocative of our own moment, word and image fought for supremacy across the pages of Enlightenment scientific books. Scientists strove, in a host of ways, to provide a direct access to nature, and with the advancement of copperplate engraving the printed image was increasingly seen as offering the reader/viewer a site of unmediated witness. Drawing on three texts—Hans Sloane’s Voyage to Jamaica (1707-25), Joseph Priestley’s Observations on Different Kinds of Air (1772), and William Roxburgh’s Plants of the Coast of Coromandel (1795-1819)—I argue that science’s entanglement with commerce and empire ultimately helped produce a new rhetoric of boundless expansion, of mastery of the world through accumulation and accounting.

Peter Walmsley is Chair of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University and the author of The Rhetoric of Berkeley Philosophy and Locke’s Essay and the Rhetoric of Science. His current project, Manufacturing Subjects: The Cultural Politics of Labour in Britain, 1690-1750, investigates the revaluation of skilled work and personal industry in genres as diverse as sermons, trade handbooks, novels, and scientific texts.

The New Quarterly’s Writing Retreat

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The New Quarterly, an award-winning literary magazine housed at St. Jerome’s at the University of Waterloo, is excited to announce that it will manage the 7th annual Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat, May 4 to 9, 2018, at the magnificent Lodge at Pine Cove, on the storied French River, a five-hour drive north of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

The French River Retreat is for writers of all skill levels—from novice to accomplished—of fiction (short stories and novels) and nonfiction (memoirs and essays). Limited to 25 participants, it includes workshops, small groups, and talks. The Lodge at Pine Cove offers gourmet meals and superb accommodations.

This year’s fiction faculty are Helen Humphreys and Alison Pick. For creative nonfiction, it’s Andrew Westoll. Humphreys is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen books, and recipient of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Pick’s novel Far To Go was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. She was also a juror for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Westoll’s The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary won the 2012 RBC-Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction
New this year is the self-guided retreat, which provides one-on-one consulting with TNQ’s editors, Pamela Mulloy (fiction), and Susan Scott (nonfiction).

While applications are due by April 6, 2018, the early-bird registration date is February 15, 2018—a $125 discount awaits.

There are two ways to register: online at https://www.frenchriver.com/writingretreat2018 or download the application form at: https://www.frenchriver.com/files/Application__Write_Retreat_2018.pdf, fill it out and email it to Susan Scott at sscott@tnq.ca

The New Quarterly has been publishing the best of new Canadian writing—fiction, poetry, author interviews and talk about writing since 1981. In addition, TNQ hosts the Wild Writers Literary Festival, with the seventh annual to be held November 2 to 4, 2018.

To find out more about this spring’s Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat, contact Susan Scott at: sscott@tnq.ca.