Top Ten Posts of 2017!

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I usually post these lists during the winter holiday, but I’m feeling moderately celebratory today, so why not announce the top ten most read Words in Place posts published in 2017? From prize-winning students to accomplished alumni, from student projects to faculty research, we’ve covered it all. While the vast majority of our readers are located in Canada and the United States, we also reached people in 140 other countries. So what were they most likely to read? Did your favorite posts make the list? Scroll down to find out! As always, thank you to all who participated in the UWaterloo English blog in 2017.

10) Not another actuary: UW English alumni Dr. Kris Singh

9) Full STEAM ahead for English students

8) Four outstanding performance awards for English faculty

7) Alumna Marsilda Kapurani: Rhetoric, Art, and the Real Housewives

6) SNL, Trump, and more: Dr. Danielle Deveau

5) News from PhD grad Sarah Gibbons

4) What Professor Mom wants you to know, part 1

3) PhD student Kyle Gerber wins prize

2) Valedictorian Amy Zhou–one of ours!

1) On Confederate Monuments and American Literature


Harry Potter’s Butterbeer, a recipe for cold weather

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An hour after registration for winter courses opened, I had five emails from students trying to get into English 108P, our Harry Potter course. They were promptly dealt with, after pondering how much fun it would be to spend the holiday break re-reading the books in preparation for the course, perhaps accompanied by a glass of butterbeer. Since I’ve been sharing literary recipes for cold weather, why not try butterbeer? I’ve chosen the easiest non-alcoholic version from Babble, and an alcoholic version circa 1588, from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, courtesy of BBC History Magazine. (The image above is available at Etsy.)

Warm Butterbeer
4 tablespoons butterscotch sauce (Jaime used a recipe from SimplyRecipes)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 bottles of cream soda

Divide butterscotch sauce between glasses. Top with cream. Heat cream soda until very warm and pour the cream and butterscotch.

Buttered beere
1,500ml (3 bottles) of good-quality ale
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
200g demerara or other natural brown sugar
5 egg yolks
100g unsalted butter, chopped into small lumps

Pour the ale gently into a large saucepan and stir in the ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the ale clears. While the ale is simmering, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is light and creamy. Remove the spiced ale from the hob, add the egg yolk and sugar mixture, and stir until all ingredients are well blended. Return to a low heat until the liquid starts to thicken, taking care not to overheat. Simmer for five minutes, add the chopped butter and heat until it has melted. Hand-whisk the liquid until it becomes frothy. Continue to heat for 10 minutes, then allow to cool to a drinkable temperature. Give the mixture another whisk, serve into a jug or small glasses (or tankards!) and drink while still warm.

Critical Media Lab and Handel’s “Messiah”

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Did you know UWaterloo English’s Critical Media Lab has been playing an important part in the Grand Philharmonic Choir’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” this year? For months, the CML has been assisting in producing digital images of a hand-crafted and illuminated copy of the St. John’s Bible. The images will then be projected on the screen. According to Dr. Marcel O’Gorman, “For us, this project is about translating a complex literary text into a moving picture. It’s a dance between old and new media, big books and big data projectors.”

Handel’s Messiah Sat. Dec. 9, 7:30 pm
(Pre-concert talk at 6:30 pm)
Centre in the Square, Kitchener
Tickets: $30 to $82, with discounts for children, students and under-30s.
519-578-1570 or



11 Encounters with Mennonite Fiction

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If you have taken a course in Mennonite writing at UWaterloo, it might have been taught by Hildi Froese Tiessen, now Professor Emerita, and editor of the forthcoming 11 Encounters with Mennonite Fiction (Mennonite Literary Society, 2017). You are invited to attend a launch for the book on Thursday, December 7th, at Conrad Grebel at UWaterloo in the Schlegel Community Education Room. Also being launched is Silentium: And Other Reflections on Memory, Sorrow, Place, and the Sacred, by Connie T. Braun.



Edgar Allan Poe’s Eggnog Recipe

November is over, snow is on the ground, and there is eggnog in the dairy aisle. Eggnog may not be the favorite drink of UWaterloo students, but it was the preferred beverage of one famous literary undergraduate: West Point cadet Edgar Allan Poe. In this he had good company: we are nearing the 191st anniversary of the West Point student Eggnog Riot, which spanned three days of December, 1826. If you want to understand a bit more about the events, you might try whipping up a batch of Poe’s eggnog, and curling up with some related reading.

7 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
5 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups brandy
1/4 cup rum

In a medium bowl combine egg yolks and sugar, whisking until thick and pale. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. In a small saucepan, warm 3 cups milk over low heat. Whisk 1 cup of warm milk into yolk mixture. Add this back to the milk in the pan, stirring over low heat until combined and thickened. Remove from heat and quickly stir in cream.

Place saucepan in prepared ice bath. Stir occasionally until chilled, then add brandy, rum, and remaining 2 cups milk.

Pour eggnog into glasses. In a medium bowl with a handheld mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Spoon egg whites over eggnog, and top with grated nutmeg.

Source: A Second Helping of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers

Alumna Marsilda Kapurani: Rhetoric, Art, and the Real Housewives


I never thought I would be discussing an alumna’s contribution to the Real Housewives of Toronto. But that’s only a small portion of this interview with MA grad Marsilda Kapurani, who talks about the direct link between her time studying rhetoric and digital media at UWaterloo, and her subsequent career. Thanks to Marsilda for participating!

JLH: Can you tell us why a Masters in English was a good fit for you?
MK: Aside from the great reputation the university has, choosing UWaterloo was obvious for me because, the previous year, my husband had started his PhD program in Engineering at the same university.

In choosing the program, I considered my work experience and the career path I wanted to follow after my MA. In the four years after my BA, I had worked as a teacher, translator, and marketing manager. In the future, I wasn’t sure whether I would pursue art, marketing, or teaching. For these reasons, the Rhetoric and Communication Design program suited my interests better, since its applicability in art, academia, and business would provide me with more flexibility in my future professional choices. In retrospect, I couldn’t have chosen a more interesting program to study.

JLH: What did you enjoy the most about your time at UWaterloo?
MK: The whole experience was interesting and enjoyable. I loved the courses, especially the ones concerned with the Theory of Rhetoric and Digital Media. The digital media courses gave me a deeper insight in a rising medium that continues to shape our private and professional reality in a way that was incomprehensible 20 years ago.  If I had to mention my favorite courses, they would be the ones taught by Dr. Neil Randall, Dr. Aimée Morrison, and Dr. Michael MacDonald. Also, I really enjoyed working as a TA for a Business Communication course.

Additionally, some of the people I met during that time became close friends and we have managed to stay in touch since.

JLH: How have you used your degree since graduating? Has it been as you expected?
MK: English is my fourth language. As such, the MA programme provided me with useful tools for using the language beyond direct communication by exploring a deeper dimension of it – rhetoric. As an artist, interior designer, and marketing coordinator, I am always working with different people that have different interests, and communication is always a two-way street. When I am creating a painting or designing a room, the only means I have to understand my client’s visions are words which I have to translate into a visible and tangible product. I can confidently say that rhetoric has been extremely useful and necessary for me in performing well in all of these areas as it can influence people’s perspective of reality and convey a clearer message. Whether the medium is paint on canvas, a 3D design of a room, or a written digital ad, I feel rhetoric provides such practical knowledge that can only improve a professional’s performance.

JLH: Someone mentioned you in connection with the Real Housewives franchise–can you explain a bit about that? 
MK: Well, my involvement with Real Housewives of Toronto was very accidental. Before the show started, one of the “housewives” happened to visit the design office where I work and she saw my artwork there and really liked it. She commissioned a few pieces before the show and then another one for her wedding anniversary as a surprise present for her husband, which occurred while the show was being recorded. The painting was featured on the show when she surprised her husband with it, and she was very nice to name me as a local artist.

JLH: Finally, because I like to ask: what are you reading for fun?
MK: Currently, I am reading Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore. It’s a non-fiction book based on research drawn from over 25 countries. Through this book Livermore tries to provide insight on the diverse and global workforce we are living in, and especially how leadership has become a multicultural challenge. He provides a four-step CQ to help decision makers navigate international relations and the multicultural workforce effectively, respectfully and confidently.

In addition, I love architecture and interior design books. I just finished Candice Olson’s Favorite Design Challenges and can’t wait to read the Printed Textile Designs by Amanda Briggs-Goode.

You can follow Marsilda on Instagram and Facebook.

Open House at the Critical Media Lab

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UWaterloo English’s Critical Media Lab is hosting an Open House on Friday, December 1, from 4pm – 7pm.
There will be demonstrations of new CFI-funded equipment such as a laser cutter, 3D printer, brain wave interface controller, and MYO armband developed by local startup Thalmic Labs. Come and join us in imagining how to critically deploy these instruments in a manner suitable to the arts and humanities. CML Lab Technician Matt Frazer will facilitate the demonstrations.

Three students from the English Department’s XDM MA programJulie Funk, Miraya Groot, and Caitlin Woodcock — will have their final projects on display in the lab, and they will be present to take questions and give demonstrations.

Students from ENGL 760: Things in Philosophy and Literature, co-taught by Dr. Kevin McGuirk and Dr. Marcel O’Gorman, will also be showcasing their “things.”

Finally, Professor Matt Borland, a CML collaborator from Systems Design Engineering, will invite us to play some of his experimental digital music instruments.

Refreshments will be served.

Hope to see you at the lab. 44 Gaukel Street, Kitchener, ON, adjacent to the Charles Street Bus Terminal.

Image: BasketCase by Caitlin Woodcock