Category Archives: Alumni

Congratulations to our six new PhDs!

Spring convocation this year involved the robing of a number of highly accomplished new PhDs from UWaterloo English! All of them have appeared on the blog in the past year, as we’ve celebrated their successful defenses–but never before in a single photo.

Lacey Beer
Tongues Tide: Translingual Directions for Technologically-Mediated Composing Platforms (Supervisor: Frances Condon)

Clare Bermingham (University Finalist for the Governor General’s Gold Medal)
Feeling Queer Together: Identity, Community, and the Work of Affect in the Pre-Stonewall Lesbian Magazine, The Ladder (Supervisor: Victoria Lamont)

Morteza Dehghani
“In Works of Hands or of the Wits of Men”: The Elegies of Wim Wenders, Laurie Anderson and Alexander Sokurov (Co-supervisors: Kevin McGuirk & Alice Kuzniar)

Amna Haider
A Transmogrifying Discourse of Sexual Violence: Resisting, Redressing, and Re-writing Racial Scripts in Contemporary African American Women’s Theatre (Co-supervisors: Frances Condon & Vershawn Young)

Philip Miletic
Only Connect: The Virtual Communities of Gertrude Stein and David Foster Wallace (Supervisor: Aimée Morrison)

Dhruba Neupane
Plurality, promises and practice: A case of Nepali immigrants’ transliterating and translanguaging in Canada (Supervisor: Jay Dolmage)


PhD Alumna wins Dissertation Award!

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This is fantastic news! UWaterloo PhD graduate Dr. Sarah Whyte has received the 2018 Award for Best Dissertation from the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing for The Rhetorical Life of Surgical Checklists: A Burkean Analysis with Implications for Knowledge Translation. Dr. Whyte was supervised by Dr. Jay Dolmage with committee members Dr. Randy Harris and Dr. Catherine Schryer. The committee had this to say about her dissertation:

Dr. Whyte’s doctoral research makes substantial contributions to the theoretical foundations of writing and discourse studies. She pushes Burke—as a theory and method—into new territory in a return to dramatism as she interrogates and deepens the notion of rhetorical situation, in particular through an examination of the concept of circumference. She traces the circumference of the surgical checklist through a deep and rich analysis of the wide range of texts around and about its efficacy/performance in the operating theatre. Within the theatre itself, her participant observations reveal that rhetorical situation is as multifold as the number of participants, and that shared experience does not make for a single/homogenous situation. Thus, circumference has multiple dimensions, and rhetorical situation might be more spherical than our field has grasped to date. Overall the committee agreed that this work will go on to be of key importance to those in our field—including but not limited to Burke scholars and medical rhetoricians—and to policy makers and practitioners in surgical teams.

Congratulations again to Dr. Whyte. Now for a little UWaterloo trivia. Can you guess which UWaterloo English faculty member also won a dissertation award from CASDW?

Our newest PhD studies Nelson Mandela

Congratulations to our newest PhD, Dr. Patricia Ofili, who has successfully defended  her dissertation: “Contextual Complexities and Nelson Mandela’s Braided Rhetoric.” Her supervisor was Dr. Frankie Condon, with committee members Drs. Michael MacDonald and Heather Smyth. Dr. James Walker was the internal external, and Dr. Geneva Smitherman served as the external.

This dissertation revolves around the complex political circumstances in apartheid South Africa that produced Nelson Mandela the rhetorician, human rights activist, and the longest political prisoner in human history. The manner in which Nelson Mandela deploys a braided rhetoric that is a combination of the African and Western rhetorical traditions for spearheading the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa is investigated. Mandela draws upon the African rhetorical tradition through which his identity, selfhood, and ethos were forged, while appropriating the Western rhetorical tradition through which he attained his education and training as a lawyer. Also examined is the complexity of inter-ethnic strife among Black South Africans; a situation that was exploited by the apartheid regime and which made the western rhetorical tradition inadequate for the addressing apartheid domination. The dissertation also studies Mandela’s dynamism as he navigates the murky waters of apartheid policies, which were not only smoke screens for veiling their racist intent, but enactments that kept morphing for the purpose of crushing any form of dissent. The complex situation produced an audience that was very diverse, and to appeal to these local and international audiences, Mandela required a rhetoric that was nuanced and effective enough to dismantle the apartheid racist order. Mandela employs narratives, which are performed in keeping with the African oral tradition – to unify, organize, and inspire his people; to call on the world beyond the borders of South Africa to account for their support of Apartheid; and to call out whites South Africans for implicit and explicit consent to the evils of a racist social, political, and economic order. Mandela’s rhetoric is strengthened particularly because, even as he speaks and writes in service of a struggle against systemic racism, he rises above the reification of essentialism and thus resists complicity.

Recognizing Excellence in English

Anyone in English will tell you how indebted we are as a department to Jenny Conroy (our Undergraduate Program Coordinator) and Dr. Bruce Dadey. They are among those key players who keep things running smoothly, who are incredible repositories of knowledge, and who make the department a better place to be. Faculty and undergraduate students benefit from their work in ways of which they may not even be aware. Fortunately, the Faculty of Arts has recognized their exceptional work. At the recent Celebration of Arts Ceremony Jenny Conroy received an Excellence in Service Award, while Bruce Dadey received an Excellence in Teaching Award.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Clive Forrester, Dr. Ken Hirschkop, Dr. Megan Selinger, Dr. Dorothy Hadfield, Ms. Jenny Conroy, Dr. Bruce Dadey, Dr. Shelley Hulan, Dr. George Lamont.

Alumna Cherie Chevalier on Why Arts

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Did you know Cherie Chevalier, worldwide sales leader for marketing solutions at Microsoft, is also a UWaterloo English, Rhetoric, and Professional Writing alumna? Chevalier was recently interviewed for the Macleans article “Yes, you will get a job with that arts degree” addressing the desire for Arts graduates in industry. From the article:

In her industry, says Chevalier, “things move so quickly and the pace of innovation is so high that we need people who can think critically, react, solve problems and have that high level of intelligent agility and adaptability that will enable them to be successful in any role.” She says she looks for candidates who “can work with each other across groups and divisions . . . and are able to see things from other people’s perspective and who are able to communicate clearly and build relationships.” By those criteria, “liberal arts graduates are particularly well-positioned.”

For more see: Yes, you will get a job with that arts degree.”


Learning with Machines

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Today, at 6pm, the UWaterloo English Critical Media Lab is hosting “Learning with Machines.”

What does the future of work and learning look like for educators and students? For entrepreneurs and startups? Join Diana Moreno Ojeda, a UWaterloo PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo and Mitacs researcher with Deloitte, and UWaterloo PhD alumnus Dr. Robert Clapperton of Ryerson and co-founder of Ametros Learning, a machine learning pedagogical company, for a conversation of the role of AI in classrooms and skills we can learn alongside and from these technologies.

The Critical Media Lab is located in Area 151 of Communitech, 151 Charles St West, Kitchener, Ontario, N2G 1H6. A Q&A and light refreshments will follow the talk.

Attention X-Men Fans! Or, why is Neil Gaiman tweeting a UW researcher?

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In case you missed it, last month beloved author Neil Gaiman tweeted about a UWaterloo research project by UWaterloo English faculty and PhD alumnus Dr. Andrew Deman. Gaiman shared a recent article in Salon (and picked up elsewhere) in which Andrew Deman discussed some of his recent research. Now Dr. Deman has received a SSHRC Insight Development grant to further that research. So what was Gaiman so excited to share?

Well, fans of comics will know that the record for the longest run as a single writer on an American comic book title is held by Chris Claremont, author of the Uncanny X-Men for sixteen years. Dr. Andrew Deman is studying just what this has meant. His research project is titled Counting Claremont: Sexuality, Subversion and Symbolic Capital in Comics’ Longest Single-Author Run. The project deliverables include two media articles, four conference presentations, a book proposal, and a website.

Currently there are four UWaterloo research assistants working on amassing data: Rebeccah Redden, Sabrina Wasserman, Tristan Chen, and Lauryn Watters. The project uses quantitative content analysis to build an expansive data set which tracks the progressive representations of female characters, the kind of long-continuity storylines that we now see in binge-worthy television, and character melodrama. The data will be made available to other scholars via a website that launches next month.