Category Archives: Alumni

U2 licenses alumnus’s work

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This is probably one of the more unusual Words in Place posts. It appears U2 (yes, that U2, with Bono) has licensed the work of UWaterloo English alumnus George Elliott Clarke, in advance of their upcoming Vancouver concert. Clarke, as you may recall, is currently poet laureate of Canada. As reported by Quill & Quire, they will feature “Ain’t You Scared of the Sacred?: A Spiritual” and “Elegy for Leonard Cohen.”

A PhD dissertation that is also a game?

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UWaterloo English PhD grad Steve Wilcox didn’t write a conventional dissertation by any stretch. Rather, his thesis combined allergies, education, and games studies. Specifically, Steve argued that “games can be used to translate knowledges between communities and cultures. This is accomplished by training the player’s imagination to discover knowledge that is situated in unfamiliar social and cultural situations.” As part of this, Steve created a game titled Allergory. It features a young girl named Mia who has a peanut allergy. Through the game, “Players work with Mia as she migrates to a new school where she is the first food-allergic student. The game is intended to help non-food-allergic persons understand the social, cultural, and practical reality of having a food allergy.” Now you can play the game online. Dr. Wilcox is a full-time faculty member in the Game Design & Development program at Laurier-Brantford.

Steve Wilcox’s dissertation committee members were: Drs. Aimée Morrison, Beth Coleman, and Marcel O’Gorman.

Alumnus Evan Munday on CBC

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You might remember UWaterloo English alumnus Evan Munday from our previous Words in Place interview (in which his time-travelling monkey made an apperance). Now he is featured on CBC, discussing his newest project, #365Canadians. As CBC notes, Munday is “drawing portraits of Canadians you might not find in textbooks — think less John A. MacDonald and more Alexander Milton Ross.” Several Canadian authors feature to date–Lillian Allen, Nalo Hopkinson, Lee Maracle, Mairuth Sarsfield, Richard Wagamese–with more to come.

You can read more at CBC. Or follow the Twitter hashtag #365Canadians.

Immigration Acts: Two Plays

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UWaterloo lecturer and English BA & PhD graduate Diana Lobb is the director of Immigration Acts, two plays being staged at the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre from April 13 to April 29, 2017. According to the press release: “Immigration Acts stages the Canadian split personality regarding immigration—priding ourselves on national multiculturalism, while sometimes being xenophobic, if not profoundly racist, when addressing “immigrant” issues—in two one act plays. The multicultural Canada is made to sit beside the racist Canada. The audience is placed in the position of negotiating between the generous, tolerant vision of Canada in One Officer’s Experiences (by Arthur J. Vaughn) and the white supremacist, intolerant vision of Canada in The Komagata Maru Incident (by Sharon Pollock).” For information about tickets, visit the KWLT site.

All about Alumna Rupi Kaur

A new video about best-selling UWaterloo English alumna Rupi Kaur. For more on Rupi, co-op, and her degree, click here. Maybe you might be interested in taking a writing course? Creative Writing 1 (ENGL 335) is offered Spring 2017.

English alumni win writing contest

The winners of the 2017 HeForShe writing contest have been selected, and their work has been published in a special anthology presented in support of the HeForShe 10x10x10 IMPACT framework. And two of the four winners are UWaterloo English alumni! Congratulations to Sarasvathi Kannan, a Waterloo alumna, whose “The Sword and the Pen” was one of two winners in the poetry category (the other winner was anonymous).  The winner in the Fiction category was Jessica Needham, a Waterloo alumna, with an untitled short story. Words in Place readers may recognize Jessica, who previously appeared on the blog discussing her research on Game of Thrones. Sarasvathi Kannan may also be familiar to you. She is a past recipient of the English department’s Albert Shaw poetry prize, as well as the English Society Creative Writing Award for Prose, the English 251A award, and–if that weren’t enough–the Rhetoric and Professional Writing award. Congratulations to our alumni!

Alumnus Adam Hunt on dream courses & reading

In this interview, University of Waterloo English alumnus Adam Hunt may have just offered my favorite book suggestions to date, while also working in Al Purdy’s A-frame cottage, dream courses, and the indefatigable Dr. Gordon Slethaug. Thank you to Adam for participating in Words in Place!–JLH

JLH: What made you decide to do a Masters at UWaterloo?
AH: Well, to be frank, it was a combination of two things: my girlfriend was accepted into a Masters in Sociology, and I liked Waterloo because I got the chance to be a teaching assistant (TA) in both semesters. I finished the MA in a year and stayed on to start an M.Phil: in that second year, I was lucky enough to get the chance to teach “Eng 108F: The Rebel,” as well as to TA in American Literature for former Head of English, Professor Gordon Slethaug. He also taught me my first Literary Theory class.  My two years at UWaterloo prepared me well for the Ph.D. I did at the University of Toronto and my future teaching career.

JLH: Can you tell us a bit about your time as an graduate student here? What stands out?
AH: Because we were a graduate student couple, my wife and I were involved in both departments. My Ph.D. thesis at U of T  — “The Captain of Industry in English Literature from 1904 to 1920” — ended up being quite sociological, so I suppose that was a product of my “doubleness” at Waterloo.

JLH: You now teach high school English: what do you do to encourage students’ enthusiasm for literature?
AH: I am actually lucky enough now to be the librarian at a high school (Centennial Secondary School in Belleville) as well as an English teacher.  In both my roles, I encourage the students to read widely and deeply.  I hope that if they read enough, they will eventually love literature. I seldom, however, start them off with canonical works.

JLH: Are there any initiatives that particularly stand out?
AH: One initiative that stood out for me was when I was teaching “Writer’s Craft” and the class visited the Al Purdy cottage.  For a few weeks before the visit the students immersed themselves in the poetry of Purdy, and then when they visited the cottage (and also met his widow, Eurithe) the verse really came alive for them.  The visit was in the Spring, so we hung out the whole day, helped clean up the area a bit, and also indulged ourselves by working on a variety of artistic tasks: writng poetry, sketching the cottage, and taking photographs.  The day was bucolic bliss!  Also, they got to see that daily life (and habitat) of a writer was rather humble, a fact that most of them had not realized.  Their heads were full of visions of writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald….

The Purdy A-frame now hosts three writers a year, so we hope to return soon.  The class runs only every two years, and I am not the only teacher who teaches it.  Perhaps when the cottage attains Heritage status we will go back.

JLH: If you could design a dream course for your students, what would it cover?
AH: If I could teach any course, I would like to teach a course in Utopia/Dystopia, not just the standard works but also Young Adult novels like Moira Young’s Blood Red Road and Jo Treggiari’s Ashes, Ashes. I fondly remember a university course in this subject back at University of Saskatchewan, where I got my first degree.

JLH: Finally, what have been your favorite books of the last year?
AH: I immensely enjoyed Ian McEwan’s Nut Shell, with its highly original perspective, as well as the epic Homecoming by new writer Yaa Gyasi. Along those same lines is Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, a novel that won the Booker Prize in 2015. The sheer length and sometimes confusing multiple voices may challenge the reader, but the novel certainly rewards at the end. Many other new books – Beth Goobie’s The Pain Eater, for example, and Margaret Atwood’s new novel, The Heart Goes Last – are on my bedside table and I look forward to reading them.