Author Archives: jharris124

Not pulling punches: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Screenshot 2018-01-12 09.55.35
Maybe you’ve managed to remain unaware of the scandals plaguing Canadian Literature over the last year. We should be grateful that, in the midst of all the chaos, there are people who have made sense of it for the uninitiated, mounting sharp and insightful critiques. This includes Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, author of the Globe and Mail essay “The cultural appropriation debate is over. It’s time for action.” Akiwenzie-Damm is an Anishinaabe writer, poet, editor, and the founder and managing editor of Kegedonce Press, an Indigenous publisher based in the territory of her people, the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Saugeen Ojibway Nation in southwestern Ontario. And she will be speaking at UWaterloo on Thursday, January 18th, 4pm-5:30 in the Modern Languages Theatre of the Arts, as part of the Indigenous Speakers Series.

Screenshot 2018-01-12 09.47.26

Akiwenzie-Damm’s recent book, The Stone Collection, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for a Sarton Literary Award. As the publisher writes: “Through unforgettable characters, these stories—about love and lust, suicide and survival, illness and wholeness—illuminate the strange workings of the human heart.” Eden Robinson concurs: “Generous, funny and dark, The Stone Collection doesn’t pull its emotional punches but it leavens its grim truths with bright humour and earthy lust. Akiwenzie-Damm’s writing shape-shifts and mesmerizes in short stories that tell us no matter how hard the journey, love can heal us all.”

The Indigenous Speakers Series is co-sponsored by the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre and the Faculty of Arts. The series highlights the voices of Indigenous artists, writers, activists, and leaders from across Turtle Island, offering UWaterloo students, faculty and staff opportunities to learn from, understand, and engage with Indigenous issues.

Image: from a CBC interview with author–well worth reading here.


Today: flip a coin–and follow CBC’s advice

Screenshot 2018-01-12 08.38.19.png

Colloquium or reading? Colloquium or reading? Colloquium or reading? Or… both?! CBC has strong feelings about how you should spend today at Waterloo!

Late morning, you could attend with the second CTE Teaching Colloquium featuring English and Philosophy grad students, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in HH 373. You are welcome to bring your lunch, in case you get hungry listening to:

  • Maša Torbica, “The Classroom as Territory: (Re)Negotiating a Decolonizing Pedagogical Praxis”
  • Teresa Branch-Smith, “Creating Inclusive Classrooms amidst Discriminatory Content”
  • Meghan Riley, “Women’s and Gender Studies Across the Curriculum”

Abstracts for the presentations can be found on Colloquium’s events page.

Later in the day, there’s a reading by Mariam Pirbhai on Friday 12 January at 4:30pm in SJ1 3027 (St Jerome’s at the University of Waterloo). Mariam Pirbhai is the author of a debut short story collection titled Outside People and Other Stories (Inanna 2017), praised by award-winning novelist Shani Mootoo for its “clear-eyed compassion, generosity and literary brilliance.” And it was just ranked #6 in CBC’s Top 95 Must Read recommended books of 2017!

Top Ten Posts of 2017!

Screenshot 2017-12-13 15.13.47
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

Screenshot 2017-12-12 10.20.34
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”

Screenshot 2017-12-01 12.02.14
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

Screenshot 2017-12-01 11.21.46.png
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