A Reading by alumna author Carrie Snyder

On Wednesday, March 4th, 7:30, there will be a reading by alumna Carrie Snyder, whose last work, The Juliet Stories, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Snyder’s much-anticipated new novel, Girl Runner, tells the story of an Olympic runner and a forgotten period of Canada’s past, and is set to be released across the US, the UK, and Australia in 2015, and in translation in across Europe and South America.

Snyder appears as part of  “Mennonite/s Writing 2014-2015,” a seven session reading series showcasing new work by some of the most prominent authors in the field, including: Rudy Wiebe, Jeff Gundy, Miriam Toews, Patrick Friesen, Di Brandt, and David Bergen.

The New Mennonite/s Writing series at Conrad Grebel, promises seven evenings of compelling literature with some of Canada’s most celebrated authors. The series will be hosted by Robert Zacharias, Assistant Editor of The Journal of Mennonite Studies and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the English Department at the University of Waterloo.

Location: Conrad Grebel University Chapel 140 Westmount Road North Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6 Canada

Image credit. Text from Mennonite/s Writing.

Mean Girls: Queen Bees, Wannabees, and the Education of Cady Heron: A talk

Bentley poster

Please join us for the sixth and final event in this year’s English Language & Literature Speakers Series. Our concluding speaker will be David Bentley (University of Western Ontario), who will visit on Friday, March 6 to give a talk titled “Mean Girls: Queen Bees, Wannabees, and the Education of Cady Heron.” Bentley is Carl F. Klinck Professor in Canadian Literature at the University of Western Ontario. His lecture will examine the structure, sources, ethics, and cultural messages that make Mean Girls more than a movie about wearing pink on Wednesdays. The talk will take place in PAS 2438 at 2:00 p.m.

Professor Bentley has written and edited extensively in the fields of Canadian literature and culture and Victorian literature and art, and serves as editor in chief at Canadian Poetry Press (www.canadianpoetry.org). In addition to his work on Mean Girls, current projects include a collection of essays on modernism in Canada and an essay on the stories Alice Munro wrote as a student at Western.

Speakers Series events are open to the university community and the public.

Read our faculty research without leaving your sofa

tiger-sofa-by-rodolfoIt used to be that all academic scholarship was published in either book form or print journals, which could not be found outside of university libraries and the offices and studies of interested scholars. Some may remember using indexes and CD-ROMS to locate articles. Now we use online databases to search for relevant research, and increasingly publications in certain fields are online, particularly the sciences and those related to digital fields.  If you are interested in reading some recent scholarship by UWaterloo English faculty published online see:

Frankie Condon, “Stories to Live and Die By: In Memorium.” Survive and Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Research vol. 1, no. 1, 2014.

Bruce Dadey, “Breaking Quarantine: Image, Text, and Disease in Black Hole, Epileptic, and Our Cancer Year.” ImageText vol. 7, no. 2. 2014.

Jay Dolmage, “Framing Disability, Developing Race: Photography as Eugenic Technology.” Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture no. 17, 2015.

Kate Lawson, “Personal Privacy, Letter Mail, and the Post Office Espionage Scandal, 1844.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History spring, 2013.

Marcel O’Gorman, “Taking Care of Digital Dementia.”  CTHEORY: Theory, Technology, and Culture vol. 37, no. 1, 2015.

Stephanie White (and Elizabeth Miller), “Senior-Thesis Writing Groups: Putting Students in the Driver’s Seats.” The Writing Lab Newsletter Jan/Feb 2015. (access may be delayed until next issue is published)

The Absence of Imagination

Robbins posterPlease join the English Language and Literature Speakers Series for our second talk of the Winter term. We are pleased to welcome Bruce Robbins (Columbia University), who will give a talk entitled “The Absence of Imagination”—a discussion of constructionism, with an eye toward the thought of Immanuel Kant and theories of narrative. The talk will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, February 27, in Hagey Hall 150.

Bruce Robbins is Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Among his works are Feeling Global (1999), Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture (1993), Upward Mobility and the Common Good (2007), and most recently Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence (2012). A companion volume, The Beneficiary: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Inequality, is in preparation.

The department’s Speakers Series events are open to the university community and the public. Please feel free to circulate this email and the attached poster widely. We hope to see many of you there!

What would professors re-read on a wintery day?

BSJIt’s a busy time of year for UWaterloo English faculty and students, and on top of it we’re probably all a bit tired from moving masses of snow around. Given the general February slump, it seemed like the perfect time to pose the following question to a few faculty: “If you could stop everything else right now and curl up with your beverage of choice in a comfortable chair to re-read a favourite book, what book would you chose?” The answers are wonderful.

Beth Coleman
I’ve been listening to Pynchon Gravity’s Rainbow as an audio book. It is very trippy to “hear” his phantasmagoric prose. I am reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity on e-book. My magical thinking: between these two fantastic, generative thought-engines, the snow will have to start melting.

Dorothy Hadfield
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. (Except that I’d have to get it back from my son, who has it in Toronto as background reading for his “History of Physics” course at U of T.) My favourite books are those that deal with historiography or “behind the scenes” history, or the kind of good science writing that explains science in layperson’s terms. I like Bryson’s books in general, but this book wins because it’s a perfect combination of both my favourite topics. He explains the scientific discoveries, but in the delightful context of biographical info about the people who made them (or are credited with them–not always the same thing!).  There are lots of books that I’d love to curl up and (re)read, but this one would be the most pleasurable indulgence.

Kate Lawson
Dickens’ Bleak House with a hot cup of tea.

Andrew McMurry
I’m in the throes of some kind of flu at the moment, but even so I’m thinking of re-reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It is a stunning tour de force of writing, well worth reading twice for that reason alone. But its plot is cryptic and compelling, something after the first read I knew was too demanding to grok in one pass, and I’d like to take another crack at it.

Aimée Morrison
I’m rereading Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants. I received Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please! for Christmas and when I finished it I headed back to Fey’s book. Both of them are funny but feel real to me, and it’s nice to read memoirs with strong, sassy, funny, sarcastic, kick-ass women on the title page. I find it bracing to watch these women refuse to take no for an answer in their lives. And Fey’s got this short chapter on being the mother of a daughter that manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

John Savarese
B.S. Johnson, The Unfortunates (1969). I’ve been meaning to reread The Unfortunates, which is a novel known for being a “book in a box”: rather than a single codex, it consists of small packets that can be read in any sequence, and as a result it does some interesting things with nonlinearity, fragmentation, memory, and elegy. I find myself talking about a lot with students and colleagues in conversations about the history of the book, or experimental narratives like Sterne’s Tristram Shandy or Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus, and it would be something I’d like to revisit.

Image: The Unfortunates, Flickr

Critical Media Lab Salon: what is your reality?

Hylozoic Ground
Please join us for the our second Critical Media Lab Salon of the winter semester, featuring presentations by Prof. Rob Gorbet, Department of Knowledge Integration, and Jason Lajoie, PhD candidate, Department of English, both University of Waterloo.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 24, 4:00-6:00pm
WHERE: Critical Media Lab, in the Department of English Digital Space at 44 Gaukel St., Kitchener

“Near-Living Architecture” (Rob Gorbet)
In this very visual presentation I will give an overview of the research and production activity in my 10-year collaboration with architect Philip Beesley, as we have been exploring the guiding question, “What would it be like if buildings were more alive?” Within this context, and along with collaborator Dana Kulic (UW, ECE), we’ve been developing increasingly complex autonomous, interactive systems that integrate layers of technology using an anthropomorphic model.  Dissemination has been in the form of physical prototype sculptural installations, much sought-after internationally, and in 2010 the work was selected to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. I will describe the origins and evolution of this body of work, and include updates on the current research questions we’re pursuing: how might buildings respond empathically to their occupants, and what might that mean?  What kind of intelligent learning algorithms might produce the most interesting interactions?

“Capturing the Simulacrum”: The Effect of Digital Actors on the Concept of Reality (Jason Lajoie)
While virtual performers have existed since the beginning of cinema as dummies, puppets and animation (be it hand-drawn or stop-motion), it is only with the unprecedented photorealism offered by digital technology that the presence of a virtual performer on screen has challenged the distinction between reality and simulation. This project considers Baudrillard’s claim that simulation overtakes and reconfigures reality in relation to the evolution of digital actors. Does the high volume of data being collected from the human actor in films like Avatar create a real substitute in the form of a digital replacement? Does the existence and sustained presence of digital actors achieve the level of pure simulation that Baudrillard describes, one in which “the image has no relation to reality whatsoever” (6)? Using film, sound, image and metaphor, “Capturing the Simulacrum” is a visual essay that examines the processes of simulacra and simulation in distinct technological phenomena to provoke a critical reappraisal of the evolving profusion of the simulated image in cinema.

Photo: Hylozoic Ground

English Mixer at the Bomber

mixer_feb2015-1On Tuesday, February 24, 2015 from 5:30-7:30pm, there will be an English Mixer event, to be held at the Bomber. Food and beverages will be available.