Author Archives: jharris124

Preview Recent Grad’s New Book

Dr. Emma Vossen successfully defended her PhD in English at UWaterloo in July; now you can preview her co-edited book, Feminism in Play, part of the Palgrave Games in Context Series. She also contributed a chapter, “The Magic Circle and Consent in Gaming Practices.” From the press:

Feminism in Play focuses on women as they are depicted in video games, as participants in games culture, and as contributors to the games industry. This volume showcases women’s resistance to the norms of games culture, as well as women’s play and creative practices both in and around the games industry. Contributors analyze the interconnections between games and the broader societal and structural issues impeding the successful inclusion of women in games and games culture. In offering this framework, this volume provides a platform to the silenced and marginalized, offering counter-narratives to the post-racial and post-gendered fantasies that so often obscure the violent context of production and consumption of games culture.


Award for undergrad Danielle Bisnar Griffin

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Congratulations to UWaterloo English undergraduate Danielle Bisnar Griffin, winner of the DiMarco Undergraduate Scholarship in Computational Rhetoric. This is not her first award from UWaterloo; she previously received the Quarry Integrated Communication Co-op English Award for her report ”Comparative Data Visualizations of Textual Features in the OED and the Life of Words Genre 3.0 Tagging System,” which addressed the work completed during a co-op semester. Danielle was kind enough to share with us a bit about what made her application stand out:

I received the award for my enthusiasm for computational rhetoric, evidenced by my participation in Dr. David Williams’ project The Life of Words and the research interests I developed due to working there. During my time at The Life of Words, I have completed co-op reports that examine the rhetoric of genre using computational methods and I have pursued these interests towards a senior honors essay, scheduled for completion March 2019. I have also consistently committed to improving my computational skills by attending conference skills workshops throughout my undergrad. Finally, I have also been working with Dr. Randy Harris and Dr. DiMarco’s Rhetorical Figures team, in which we work to develop an ontology of rhetorical figures. This is inherently very computational.

Thank you to Danielle for participating in Words in Place, and to alumnus Sam Pasupalak (BCS ’12) for funding the award.–JLH

Welcome to Fall Open House

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This past weekend some of our dedicated English faculty and students participated in the Fall Open House, welcoming potential students and their parents to UWaterloo, and answering any questions they might have about our program. An English degree by co-op? Check, we have that. Traditional courses in literature, alongside courses in Professional Communication, Rhetoric. and Digital Media? Again, yes! A wide range of online courses? A minor in Technical Writing? Of course–we’re UWaterloo. Creative Writing? Absolutely–complemented by the presence of a national literary magazine on campus (The New Quarterly), and a series which brings acclaimed writers to campus to read.


Thanks to all of our fantastic volunteers, as well as those who came out to learn more about our program.

A Week in the Life of a Grad Student: Diana Moreno Ojeda


It’s been a while since we had a “week in the life of a grad student” post. You may recall Masa Torbica’s contribution, as she prepared for PhD exams; or Jessica Van de Kemp’s mediation on how she keeps going; Phil Miletic–who has just defended–brilliantly crowd-sourced his. In this instance, PhD candidate Diana Moreno Ojeda writes about how she schedules her life–or doesn’t. Read on to find out more!–JLH

There are two especially important moments in my week: the day when I plan what things I want to get done, and the day I evaluate how much I actually got done. While thinking about how to help readers visualize how my I plan my week, I realized that it would probably be useful to include pictures of what my calendars look like. Yes, you read it right: calendars, in the plural. Don’t get me wrong; there are a number of “little big things” that, although not scheduled, I still cherish because they allow me to function. The 20-minute morning exercises that allow me to fully wake up, otherwise I would be an incoherent grump when required to think before 10:00 am. The night walks that help me think clearly. Getting coffee with friends. Looking at the pictures I get from my niece and nephews. These little big things I play by ear. My calendars are for everything else.

  1. My electronic calendar helps me figure out what time I need to be where. It is really helpful as well when sorting out what time I have available to do homework, schedule meetings, or see friends. This is how my week looks at my time of writing:

I colour-code my entries too, but there isn’t a particularly good reason for it. It just works for me. The entries in salmon are work shifts. They tend to vary, as I sometimes trade work shifts to attend academic events. Blue is my class schedule. Believe it or not, even though class times stay fixed week-to-week, entering them in the calendar has more than once prevented me from accidentally scheduling anything that conflicts with them.

The entries in red display important academic commitments that I can’t miss. And, on some other weeks, I use orange to mark academic events that I would like to get to, but that do not have priority over work or homework. Green, on the other hand, reminds me of appointments with people, whether they are for my personal wellbeing, or my professional progress. Last, but not least, and highlighted in my favourite colour, are non-academic events. This week my partner and I will be heading to Kitchener for the second evening of constructing a Pinball machine at the Critical Media Lab. And, as I was one of those children who really liked collecting and classifying rocks, I’ll be heading to the EIT building at the end of the week for a rock and gemstone show.

  1. My paper calendar differs from the electronic one in that I use it not to assign time blocks to events, but to track the completion of individual tasks. Experience has taught me that being overly ambitious in my expectations about what I can get done is counterproductive, so now I give myself a smaller number of specific tasks, and try to separate what must get done, from what it’d be nice to get started on. This term I am giving myself stickers on the days I complete all my tasks without missing any commitments from my electronic calendar. It is supposed to work as a reward and, really, the stickers I got are pretty darn cute.

There are days, many days to be completely honest, when I feel like I am constantly running around, kind of like a bumblebee, always busy. I joke with a couple of classmates about how often we make all these plans to get it all done on Saturdays so that our Sundays are completely full of fun and worry free: playing games, drawing, getting next week’s lunches ready without dreading how long it takes to cook and clean up. By the time that Saturday rolls in, though, we are so tired that sleeping in is unavoidable, even when we know that such shenanigans mean that a couple of tasks will unavoidably take up a good chunk of our Sundays.

Once I heard that graduate student life should be treated like a job. In a way, this piece of wisdom makes sense; work is not all you do, nor is your graduate degree. Yet, I have never really been able to see my graduate studies that way. There are two reasons behind my lack of identification with that statement. Part of it is that, like many other students, I have a couple of part-time jobs to help me pay the bills and so I organize my research time in a less structured manner. The rest of it is that the one thing always making me excited about coming to school is the chance to talk to people working on a range of different fields, to brainstorm, to debate, in classrooms and in the halls. In the end, even when reviewing my week is sometimes overwhelming, by the time Saturday rolls in, and I stay in bed ninety minutes past my alarm, I feel pretty content with my life.

Congratulations to our Fall 2018 Grads!

Some don’t know this, but following convocation there is a reception with cupcakes in Waterloo colours, beverages, and, English faculty in robes (or not). We are there to congratulate you, greet your parents, tell them wonderful things about you, and pose for photos. Congratulations to our Fall 2018 Undergraduates:

Nicole Mitchell
Alexandra Palczewski
Rachel Christensen
Tabasum Qasemi
Brian Freiter
Shannon Bradley
Michelle Hamilton
Shannon Poon
Mackenzie Wallace
Tammy Tran
Selina Sharma
Kiranjot Toor
Britton Russell
Natalie Maduri
Brandon Kong
Tyler Black
Ibelemari Kio
Taylor Mackay
Alexandre Laronde
Edith Maccan

Congratulations to Katherine Tu

Congratulations to UWaterloo English student Katherine Tu. Katherine, who is enrolled in the MA program, has been awarded the DiMarco Graduate Scholarship in Computational Rhetoric. It is awarded annually to a graduate student registered full time in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science or the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo with a demonstrated area of interest in computational rhetoric.

Read all about it!

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Head on over to UWaterloo English to read our 2018 newsletter, featuring a letter from our new chair, Dr. Shelley Hulan, and updates on faculty and student achievements.