Every year we celebrate the excellence of our students by handing out cash and prizes for superior work in the production and dissemination of knowledge in literary and rhetorical studies. These awards are known to all as the “Englies.”
The Englie process begins early in the winter term, when the awards director (this year it was Dr. Dorothy Hadfield) reminds us, the professors, to think back through the various pieces of writing and design we’ve seen in the previous calendar year and to nominate the very finest for consideration. For other awards–particularly the creative writing awards–students themselves are solicited for entries. For still other awards, there is no nomination, no submission: the GPA awards go to those students who have demonstrated mastery across the entire range of their courses in the previous year.
Long before the nomination and entry deadline has come around, the awards director has tapped us to adjudicate, using a blind selection process, one or more of the categories. uWaterloo Fun Fact: Entries aren’t always judged by those whose comfort zone falls within that particular award category–this, under the assumption that “things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear” (though some of us, curiously, have never been asked to pass judgment on an essay about Shakespeare). Generally, we’re expected to have modest familiarity with all the fields under the sun of English studies and so are uniformly competent to divide the best from the rest.
After we have deliberated with one of our colleagues over the merits of the entries (read: listened patiently to his wrong opinions and then convinced him to abandon them), we arrange the entries in the order in which they seem to fall or, rather, rise, and report these results to the firm of Price Waterloohouse, which in turn reports them to the awards director. In some cases, we ask leave to split prizes because two entries appear equally meritorious, or we name a runner-up (who must always bear in mind that she missed the brass ring by only the slenderest of margins). So far as we can recall, there has never been a three-way tie.
At this point, the awards director communicates the news to the naturally delighted winner personally (or by email, which today is pretty much the equivalent of a registered letter). This is the happy part of the job–to tell the winner she or he will be honoured at the annual English award ceremony.
Then the real fun begins. A room and a date are chosen. A stage and a winners’ podium are built in the Engineering machine shops, then transported to the site. New paint is splashed on the walls. Whiteboards are installed. Vincenzo’s is notified. Special awards tables and comfortable chairs are freighted in from Central Stores.
If you attended the 2013 Englies, either as a winner or supporter–or perhaps as a cheese plate inspector–you’ll know that we professors were out in force. We presented the prizes, and some of us gave witty introductions to the awards and to the awards winners. Can anyone forget John North’s eloquent remembrance of Dr. George Hibbard? Or Katherine Acheson’s nod to the late Dr. Co-op? Others of us, less articulate or more froward, simply clapped vigorously and ate crackers.
We professors look forward to this event because it embodies a basic principle we think is worth upholding: give credit where credit is due, and when a lot of credit is due, give money. We spend too much of our time critiquing our students’ performances. It’s nice for us to bask in the reflected warmth of writing that demands only praise. It’s one of the times when we know that we have either done a good job teaching or at least got out of the way of good learning.
As always, the English department staff was on hand to ensure smooth sailing, documentation, and hospitality.
The winners of this year’s Englies:
Academic Awards (Undergraduate)
The ENGL 251A Special Prize Exam Award: Kathleen Moritz
The Hibbard Prize for Shakespeare: Nicole Kuiper
The Canadian Literature Prize: Ralph Neill
The Dugan Prize in Literature: Alana Rigby
The Dugan Prize in Rhetoric and Professional Writing: Alana Rigby
The Co-op Work Report Award: Lindsay Kroes
The History and Theory of Rhetoric Award: Sarah Rodrigues; Runner-up: Aaron Hernandez
The Rhetoric and Professional Writing Award: Pravneet Bilkhu; Runner-up: Matt Mendonca
Academic Awards (Graduate)
The Beltz Essay Prize, MA: Hari KC
The Beltz Essay Prize, PhD: Sarah Gibbons
Creative Writing Awards
The Albert Shaw Poetry Prize: Lindsay Kroes
The English Society Creative Writing Award for Poetry: Lindsay Davison
The English Society Creative Writing Award for Prose: Lindsay Davison
Graduate Creative Writing Award for Poetry: Morteza Dehghani
Grade Average Awards (Undergraduate)
Second Year Spring: Lindsay Kroes
Second Year Fall: Unita Ahdifard
Third Year: Evelyn Mak
Fourth Year: Matthew Wilson
Grade Average Awards (Graduate)
MA: Eric Talbot
PhD: Mari Vist
Jack Grey Award: Jack Pender
TA Award for Excellence in Teaching: Sarah Gibbons
Independent Graduate Instructor Award for Excellence in Teaching: Jesse Hutchison