“I am very pleased to announce the Outstanding Performance Award recipients for 2020 and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them for their outstanding contributions to the University of Waterloo,” writes James Rush, vice-president, academic & provost. Congratulations to UWaterloo English faculty Drs. Dorothy Hadfield, Aimée Morrison, and Marcel O’Gorman, all recipients of UWaterloo Outstanding Performance Awards.
Please join me in congratulating our newest PhD graduate, Dr. Doug Sikkema. Dr. Sikkema’s dissertation was titled, “The Myth of Disenchantment: Religion and the Environment in Contemporary American Literature.” Dr. Sikkema was supervised by Dr. Chad Wriglesworth, with committee members Dr. Andrew McMurry and Dr. Kevin McGuirk. Dr. Scott Kline of the Department of Religious Studies served as the internal/external examiner, while Dr. Christopher Douglas of the University of Victoria was the external examiner.
Dr. Sikkema is currently an assistant Professor of English and Core Humanities at Redeemer University College.
Dissertation abstract from Dr. Sikkema:
In the following project, I look closely at three living American writers whose work explores the important relations between the religious and ecocritical “turns” in American literature, with particular attention to ways religious belief might inform human understandings and interaction with the material world.The opening chapter explores the ways that the human-nature relationship is configured in a post-Enlightenment “secular” age that has given rise to the current Anthropocene era. Alongside Charles Taylor, I argue that the secular age is funded by a narrative, or lived “myth,” of disenchantment that has left many ill-at-ease with the ongoing destruction of the natural world. This uneasiness has led many to envision new “myths,” or narratives, of re-enchantment along a host of postsecular lines. The postsecular options under investigation in this project are particularly those that return to religious claims in general, and confessional Christian claims in particular. In this context, I look closely at variations of postsecular Christian myths of re-enchantment on offer in contemporary American poetry and prose through three writers: Christian Wiman, Marilynne Robinson, and Wendell Berry. I argue that each of these writers has articulated a confessionally Christian narrative of re-enchantment that challenges dominant forms of secularism while also taking issue with other-worldly, disembodied forms of Christianity that exhibit a low view of the material world. The choice of these authors and their arrangement in this project is not to suggest a clear aesthetic movement in contemporary American writing, but rather it is to note subtle progression in how the myth of disenchantment is challenged and myths of re-enchantment envisioned through postsecular forms of Christianity
Projects and Research by English Students is pleased to present Neha Ravella, who will share her research on April 29th, at 2pm. Neha’s current collaborative installation work (in-progress) Speculative AI: Octavia Butler and Other Possible Worlds features a deep generative model trained on afrofuturist inputs and is funded by Google’s Artist and Machine Intelligence (AMI) grant. Her talk “Found Data: Disappearance and Resilience” uncovers the ways in which the Indian state of Telangana’s neoliberal policies directly support the trend of inequitable risk distribution within marginal agriculturalist communities and frame institutional failures as individual ones.
Congratulations to UWaterloo English’s Dr. Frankie Condon, who is the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award from UWaterloo’s Faculty of Arts. As the judges write, “Frankie teaches out of her own commitments to antiracism and social justice. Her compassion for students, her understanding of the events that befall them, and her implicit belief that they can succeed helps them cope when circumstances threaten to overwhelm. She is one of the department’s most sought-after supervisors and instructors.”
This is not Dr. Condon’s first such award from UWaterloo. She received an Outstanding Performance Award for excellence in teaching and research from the University of Waterloo in 2015. And, in 2017, she was the recipient of the Federation of Students Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award (Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance).
What began as research for a Major Research Paper towards a Masters in English, turned into something more for Hasan Ahmet Gokce. His original project, to create a magazine to help new immigrant children navigate life in Canada, was a finalist in UW’s GRADflix competition in 2020. Over time, his project shifted, with the result that he has now produced a monthly magazine aimed at children 7-11, intended to inform and to share information on Islamic way of life and concepts. Atlasia is created by a diverse team of Muslim writers, illustrators, and editors from different parts of the world.
In 2018, when Antonio Michael Downing was a UWaterloo English student, he received an award from the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Mentorship Program to work on his memoir. Now published as Saga Boy, it’s receiving significant attention. Described as “a heart-wrenching but uplifting story of a lonely immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his Black identity and embrace a rich heritage,” you can read about it on CBC, in the Record, and elsewhere.
The Student Association of Graduates in English (SAGE) is hosting Vivify Your Vibe, a mental health education & spacemaking event occurring synchronously & asynchronously on the week of April 12th – 16th, 2021. To register and for more information, see here.
VYV is a mental health centered, conference-format “self-professionalization” event: how are you going to generate groundbreaking research if you don’t first take care of the body and soul you’re inhabiting? We know the pandemic has raised awareness and renewed institutional commitments to improving mental illness accommodations, supports and wellness initiatives, but this alone is not enough. We need to mobilize our departments, faculties and inner circles to take care of each other and empower each other in as many spaces and places as possible. We have created VIBE DOJOS (seminar sessions) to help equip you to help yourself, your loved ones and your cohort colleagues and students you may be teaching now or in the future. This is grassroots restorative justice and healing/helping techniques mobilized by yourself, your friends and your cultural spaces. We want you to be okay.
VYV is naturally a healing space & education space for complicated mental illness/wellness dialectics: what does ableism and mental illness look like in the ivory tower? How can I help or prevent these outcomes? How can I use the space I hold to better the experience of those around me who may be having a difficult time coping? How can I utilize self-healing to inspire healing in those who may need improved strategies and wellness practices? We leverage research from social work, postpsychiatry, neuroscience, health/medical humanities, restorative justice, Kingian Nonviolence leadership paradigms and importantly, lived/living experience practitioners to mobilize easily-implementable strategies to improve health, wellness and mental illness coping skills.
UWaterloo English may not have had an in-person awards ceremony this year, but the show did indeed go…online. Once again our students made it difficult for the judges, submitting excellent work for consideration. Congratulations to all of our winners, and thanks to all of our participants and organizers (Dr. Andrea Jonahs and Dr. Megan Selinger who hosted, alongside the reliably wonderful English admin staff, Margaret Ulbrick, Jenny Conroy, and Debbie Nahlik)
Andrew James Dugan Prize in Literature Award: Rachel Zehr
Andrew James Dugan Prize in Rhetoric and Professional Writing Award: Philip Hohol
Co-op Work Report Award: Wajiha Parvez
Diaspora and Transnational Studies Prize: Jane Lu
Diaspora and Transnational Studies Prize: Nicola Tidbury
Donald R and Mary E Snider Literary Award: Raha Nyakio Mahmoudi
Donald R and Mary E Snider Literary Award: Evangelos Tzoganakis
English Society Creative Writing Award for Poetry: Maya Victoria Venters
English Society Creative Writing Award for Poetry: Chrislyn Jo Fernandes
English Society Creative Writing Award for Prose: Julianna Suderman
Janice Del Matto Memorial Award in Creative Writing: Selina Barker
Masternak Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship in English: Jared Cubilla
Masternak Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship in English: Anna-Maria Brokalakis
The Albert Shaw Poetry Prize: Maya Victoria Venters
The Award in American Literature and Culture: Katrina Steckle
The Canadian Literature Prize: Emilie Stanley
The Hibbard Prize for Shakespeare Studies: Philip Hohol
The Rhetoric and Digital Design Award: Caleb Draper
The Rhetoric and Digital Design Award: Christina Piruchta
The Rhetoric and Professional Writing Award: Nicole Bourque
The Rhetoric and Professional Writing Award: Anna-Maria Brokalakis
Walter R. Martin English 251 Award: Kashfia Mahmood
Beltz Essay Prize (Master of Arts): Hannah Gardiner
Beltz Essay Prize (PhD): Shannon Lodoen
Beltz Essay Prize (PhD): Maab Alkurdi
David Nimmo English Graduate Scholarship: Jenn Rickert
Graduate Co-op Work Report Award: Neha Ravella
Graduate Creative Writing Award Prose/Poetry: Manahil Bandukwala
Graduate Professional Communication Award: Marion Gruner
Independent Graduate Instructor Award for Excellence in Teaching: Monique Kampherm
Jack Gray Graduate Fellowship Award: Dakota Pinheiro
Lea Vogel-Nimmo English Graduate Professionalization Award: Monique Kampherm
Lea Vogel-Nimmo English Graduate Professionalization Award: Jonathan Baltrusaitis
Masternak Foundation Graduate Scholarship in English: Christin Taylor
Rhetoric Essay Prize (Master of Arts): Christopher Rogers
Rhetoric Essay Prize (Master of Arts): Joseph Stapleton