Category Archives: Alumni

Booksellers’ favorite poets include a UW Alumni

Kaur book covers
The Bookseller
magazine (founded in 1858), in consultation with the BA and Forward Arts Foundation, has produced “The Poetry Booksellers List,” a compendium of favorite poets from the last twenty-five years. As they write ” International stars include Claudia Rankine, Sharon Olds, Anne Carson alongside Rupi Kaur and Hera Lindsay Bird.” As some may recall, UWaterloo English alumna Rupi Kaur’s first collection, Milk and Honey, spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. In related news, you can read more about what she has been up to in the September edition of Vogue Portugal.


Congratulations to Phil Miletic!

Congratulations to UW PhD alumnus Dr. Phil Miletic, who has joined UW’s Centre for Career Action as a Graduate Career Advisor. In our PhD professionalization course, we talk a lot about what are described as Alternative Academic (or “Alt-Ac”) careers, those that allow you to deploy your skills developed in the PhD in or out of higher education. If you look around campus, you’ll see a number of people with PhDs in these kinds of positions. We’re thrilled that we’ve found a way to keep Phil–even temporarily!–and as a bonus, he’s going to be presenting to our second year PhD students this year about precisely these kinds of positions.

Indigenous Speakers Series: Jesse Thistle

jesse thistle
The Indigenous Speakers Series proudly presents Jesse Thistle, Métis-Cree-Scot scholar, teacher, and author — and a Waterloo Arts alumnus. His work is focused on intergenerational and historic trauma of the Métis people, and also reflects on his own past struggles with addiction and homelessness.

Jesse is widely recognized in the scholarly community and beyond — especially with the recent publication of his memoir From the Ashes (Simon and Schuster Canada). Jesse holds an MA in History from Waterloo and is currently a Trudeau and Vanier scholar working on his doctoral degree at York University.

The talk is Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 4 PM – 5:30 PM, Theatre of the Arts; a book signing will follow the talk.

This Indigenous Speakers Series event is co-presented by the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, the Faculty of Arts, the Department of History, and the Department of Communication 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.

Long Live the Pickle Forks!

pickle forks

Has it been so long that we have forgotten the iconic Pickle Fork statues, removed to facilitate the Hagey Hall expansion? Finally, they have been resurrected, and can now be viewed by nostalgic alumni and bewildered undergrads alike. Lest you forget their symbolic import to English, I invite you to revisit the haikus composed in their honour by UWaterloo faculty, students, and staff, at the time of their dismantling. You can read more about the statues and their history here.

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!

Screenshot 2018-07-18 14.45.49
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.