Category Archives: Conferences

What are the grad students doing?

Every year Graduate English Students from UWaterloo, Laurier, and Guelph hold a one-day symposium where they share their research. This year’s event is Friday, January 31st, just down the road at Laurier (Hawk’s Nest, 3rd floor Fred Nichols Campus Centre, beginning at 9:45am). Join our students as they discuss everything from Selfies, Tattoos, and Disability Coverage in mainstream media, to Mira Lee’s acclaimed novel, Everything Here is Beautiful. The overarching theme this year is Medicalized Bodies in the Humanities.

The Nature of the Experiment: A Workshop

Screenshot 2019-03-18 13.12.10.png
On Monday, April 8th, the UWaterloo English department is co-sponsoring an all-day conference on the nature of the experiment, examining what it means to experiment across a broad spectrum of fields. English faculty members Dr. Fraser Easton and Dr. John Savarese will be participating, along with cross-appointed faculty member Dr. Alice Kuzniar and English PhD candidate Jason Lajoie. The program is available online.


Mary Shelley’s famous invocation of human experimentation gone wrong is more than 200 years old, but remains as vibrant an analysis of the human implication of scientific insight as it did when it was first published; perhaps more so in an age on the verge of breakthroughs in both AI and bioengineering.  This conference will approach the intersections of intelligence, life, and the human from a unique perspective, through the concept and practice of the “experiment,” both today and in the past.

Since the incorporation of the Royal Society in the 1660s, the experiment has been a central locus of both knowledge creation and design in our cultures and societies.  Poets, engineers, scholars, entrepreneurs, and scientists all conduct experiments, and have done so for centuries.  Today, experiment embraces information and data in new ways to create a host of new devices and vehicles.  In this era of emerging AI, it is timely to ask practitioners in all these fields to reflect on what it means to “experiment.”

Sponsored by the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, and Department of English Language and Literature.

This is a free event and open to all, but we do ask that you RSVP.

Image by Katy Horan from Literary Witches.

Grad Students Organize Conference

The Tri-University Conference is a collaboration between English students at the University of Guelph, the UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO, and Wilfrid Laurier University. This year, the University of Waterloo is hosting. Read on for the Call for Papers:

Why do we do what we do? In our increasingly corporatized higher education with more and more emphasis on profits and finding a job, we often have to justify why what we do matters. The Arts in general are significantly underfunded and undervalued due to the perception that our work is irrelevant beyond the walls of the classroom. The public often judges the relevance of a discipline based on how it might translate into a viable source of income. This conference aims to explore the values inherent and provided by the pursuit of higher education in literary studies and the humanities. What do we seek to gain through our education and how does it benefit others? What responsibility do we, as scholars of the humanities, have in our society? How has the humanities changed to address these questions?

Possible topics: Value of Higher Education, Literature/Film/Rhetoric/Garnes and Social Change, Representations of Ethics/Responsibility, Eco-Criticism, Disability/Wellness/Mental Health Rhetoric, Labour/Class and the University, Social Activism, Community-Based Research and Pedagogy, Concepts about the ”Ivory Tower,” Role of Public Scholarship, and More. 

Submit work to Include an abstract of 250-300 words, a short bio of 50-100 words, your contact information, and affiliation as well as your dietary restrictions/ food preferences. Conference will take place on April 12th from 9am-5pm in E2 1732, University of Waterloo.

Our Grad Students Host Symposium

The 2019 Tri-University Graduate Symposium brings together graduate students and faculty members from English departments situated in the University of Guelph, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

This year’s conference is hosted by the Student Association for Graduates in English at the University of Waterloo and aims to explore the values inherent and provided by the pursuit of higher education in literary studies and the humanities.

The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at midnight. See the poster above for more information, or visit the event Facebook page.

The conference will take place on Friday, April 12, 2019. Time and room location TBD.

Read all about it!

Screenshot 2018-10-29 15.08.48
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.

A congressing we go…

It’s spring: the geese are patrolling campus, the coffee shops are keeping shorter hours, the excavators are busy, and UWaterloo English faculty and graduate students are heading for Congress, the annual meeting of many academic associations in Canada. Phil Miletic, president of the English graduate student association (SAGE), will be presenting a paper titled: “‘And now everybody will do theirs’: Remediating Everybody’s Autobiography as a Radio Event.”Kate Lawson, the chair of our department–and recent winner of an OCUFA award–will be presenting on Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley, as well as participating in a Grad Caucus Panel, “Professionalization within/beyond Academia.” Keely Cronin–another member of the SAGE executive–will be presenting “Tweeting Barriers: Indigenous Narratives, Canada Reads, and Digital Debate.” Interested in “Designing Videogames for Knowledge Translation”? Recent PhD graduate Steve Wilcox is presenting on exactly that. For more participants and titles, from “Ploche, Uberscheme” to Cultural Geography and Game Studies, see our online list.

Photo credit: Eric Jardin

Graduate Conference: Ted and Sylvia

Are you a fan of Sylvia Plath? How about Ted Hughes? Or maybe you just want to know what kind of research our graduate students are doing, or why I have included a photo of Sylvia Plath feeding a deer at Algonquin Park, and what does that have to do with all of this? Read on to find out more!–JLH 

On July 29, the students of “English 735: Ted and Sylvia,” taught by professor Murray McArthur, held a conference to present their research projects. “Ted and Sylvia” was devoted to the seven years of the partnership of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath from their tumultuous meeting on February 25, 1956 to her death in February 1963. Organized around Birthday Letters, the lyric-narrative cycle that Hughes published in 1998, the year of his death, the course also addressed his first two volumes of poetry, The Hawk in the Rain (1957) and Lupercal (1960), her first volume, The Colossus (1960), her journals and letters home, and her novel, The Bell Jar (1963), and the two arrangements of Ariel, the manuscript she created in December 1962 and the very different volume published by Hughes in 1965. The program was as follows:

Session One: 12:30-2:20

Sarah Walker: “Toward One Self, or Oneself?: The Authenticity of the Divided Self in The Bell Jar and Ariel”:
This paper examined the ways in which Sylvia Plath presented the idea of her many different selves as a sincere and accurate means of expressing her identity. The paper attempted to offer a brief critique of the concept of Plath having only one, true “authentic” self that she progressed toward, and instead put forward the view that Plath was always presenting this divided self to her readers in her works in prose and poetry.

Airlie Heung: “Ted and Sylvia’s Summer Travels of 1959: ‘The 59th Bear’ Short Stories and Poems”:
During the journey across Canada (photo of Sylvia feeding the deer at Algonquin Park) and the U.S.A. in the summer of 1959, Sylvia Plath wrote no journal entries. Suspecting she was pregnant (an obsessive topic of the journals), which was confirmed when they returned and went to Yaddho in October, she wrote instead the short story “The Fifty-ninth Bear,” which Ted responded to thirty years later through a poem with that title and four others about the journey in Birthday Letters.

Michelle Irvine: “Sylvia Plath: Poetry and Prose Mediated by History”:
In October 1962 when Plath wrote twenty-six of the poems for Ariel, coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis would have been on the BBC on her radio in Dorset continuously. The historical, however, has been little considered in relation to Plath, and this paper examines the historical in Plath through four aspects: the historical references in Ariel; the reception of Plath as historical by second wave Feminism; her writings as historical archive; Hughes’ use of history to control the narrative of Birthday Letters.


Samuel Rowland: “The Hawk Is Howling: Sublimity and Synaesthetic Metaphor in The Hawk in the Rain”:
This paper discussed synaesthesia and the sublime in Ted Hughes’s poem “Wind.” This paper will be the basis for a larger research essay on sensation, perception, and the continuous motif in Hughes’s The Hawk in the Rain of the horizon, a motif foregrounded in his 1962 BBC broadcast “The Rock,” about his birthplace of Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.

Session Two: 2:30-4:20

Aleczandra Sallows: “The ‘Ariel Poems’: Sylvia Plath’s Salvation and Demise”:
This paper examined specific examples of Plath’s conflicting emotions towards the people around her as well her own views of life. The aim of this paper was to prove that Plath cured herself of these conflicting emotions through her writing of the “Ariel” poems in an attempt to reveal her true self; however, through this process she stripped herself of all of the love relationships in her life and lost her identity, which ultimately led to her suicide.

Brittany Rossler: “Reading the Poetic Rainbow: Continuing the Conversation in Colour in the Poems of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes”:
This paper examined the palette of colours in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and the responses of Ted Hughes to the seven-colour spectrum of Ariel. Plath colourized or colour-coded her poetry, especially through the key colours of red, white, and blue, and Hughes responded throughout Birthday Letters towards the last poem in the sequence, “Blue,” where he turned the famous red head scarf stolen at their first meeting blue.

Jessica-Leigh Van De Kemp: “’I Eat My Way’: Poetry-as-Eat in Sylvia Plath’s ‘Poems for a Birthday’”:
This study of Sylvia Plath’s poetic sequence “Poem for a Birthday” identifies William Slaughter’s eating metaphor as the prime device that Plath uses to position poetry as a generative process within the body. The metaphor of poetry-as-eat allows Plath to bridge the gap between her vocations as poet and mother and links the composition process to ideas of identity, ventriloquy, and writing the body.

Victoria Feth: “’Bones Still Undergoing Everything’: Burying and Raising the Future in Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters”:
Among corporeal bodies, like Sylvia Plath’s, the futuregiven a textual body by Ted Hughes’ poeticsis buried throughout Birthday Letters. Unlike Sylvia, this paper argued that the unrealized futures cannot be resurrected, even symbolically, through the act of poetry making.

Thank you to the students of 735 for sharing their research.

Image credit: Etsy.