I am eager to share the news that we are welcoming Dr. Danielle Deveau (back) to UWaterloo’s English Department. Her academic work on the politics of humour has never been more timely, and her work on cultural mapping initiatives is crucial. Read on to find out about these– and how she deliberately seeks surprises in brown paper packages!
JLH: We’re thrilled to have you as part of the department, but recognize you’re not new to teaching, here or elsewhere. Can you tell us a bit about your trajectory?
DJD: I completed my PhD in Communication at Simon Fraser University in 2013. During my degree, I taught professional communication as well as media studies courses on popular culture and sports. I then worked as a postdoctoral research at Wilfrid Laurier University. My project evaluated and curated cultural mapping data in the Waterloo Region. Since that time, I have continued to consult with the City of Kitchener on issues related to cultural mapping, cultural planning, and the development of cultural scenes.
I started teaching part-time here at Waterloo in September 2013. At first, I only taught English 109 Online, which I really enjoyed. I loved the opportunity to work with graduate students. I had a one-year, full-time contract teaching English 109 and 119 in 2014/15. This was a great experience and the primary reason I decided to apply for the three-year contract that I am starting this summer. I’m looking forward to teaching English 109 to Math and Computer Science students again, but also all of the media theory courses that I am slated to teach over the next few years.
JLH: Have you found yourself using your PhD research in the classroom?
DJD: My Phd Dissertation was on humour and laughter, so I have definitely found it to be a popular topic in the classroom. I have found that my students consume a lot of comedy programming – be it stand-up videos on youtube, or latenight comedy like the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. They are really engaged with the critical potential of humour in popular culture and we’ve had some great discussions. Because I primarily teach writing, I also show students some of my own academic writing at various stages in order to illustrate the many, many stages between idea to research to draft to finished product. I could do this with any research topic, but I hope that because I’m writing about humour, they find my research a little less boring than they might otherwise….
JLH: Can you tell us a bit about the research you are doing now?
DJD: Currently, I am doing work on the politics of humour (especially related to the newfound relevance of SNL in the Trump Presidency), as well as organizational communication research on the role of humour in reinforcing workplace cultures. In terms of applied local research, I am still evaluating cultural mapping initiatives in the Waterloo Region, especially related to user-experience and audience development.
JLH: You’ve done a fair bit of community outreach in K/W. How has that shaped your experience?
DJD: The work I’ve done with local governments and non-profits completely shifted my research focus. I realized that many of the theories I had been working with had a lot of value in applied research and that I could use my training to help resolve real economic development challenges. It has been very satisfying seeing my work end up in cultural policy documents, or used to direct new cultural initiatives.
JLH: Finally, if you had time to read for pleasure this summer, what would be at the top of your list?
DJD: My undergraduate degree is actually in Canadian Studies and I still find that I gravitate towards CanLit. I received Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle for Christmas and am still trying to find time to read it. Maybe this is the month! Usually when I am in the mood to read a new novel, I go to Words Worth Books uptown and buy one of their “surprise” books (they wrap books in brown paper and leave a note to tell you what genre the book is, but nothing else). I like the element of chance and they always curate great selections!