Category Archives: Conferences

A congressing we go…

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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

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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.

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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.

UWaterloo English goes to Congress

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Once again, it is the time of year when many Canadian social science and humanities academic organizations hold their annual event known as Congress. It’s a bit like a trade fair for academics, all under one roof. This year, Congress will be in the nation’s capital, and the roof will be the University of Ottawa. And UWaterloo English faculty, graduate students, and alumni will be represented at a variety of association meetings!

Notably, PhD alumni Jason Haslam is president of ACCUTE, the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English. At ACCUTE PhD candidate Phil Miletic will be presenting on “American New Sincerity and (Virtual) Community: Disembodiment and Community in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest,” while PhD candidate Doug Sikkema will speak to “The Edge of Words: Religious Language, Evolution and Marilynne Robinson.” English faculty Winfried Siemerling, Sara Humphreys (St. Jerome’s), and Shelley Hulan will also be contributing with papers on subjects such as “Critical Black Canadian Memory Culture” and “Queer Edens.” More UWaterloo English people will be spread out across other associations. For a more extensive list, see here.

Oh, as for the picture above? Whatever university is hosting always posts its glossiest outdoor summery photos to make the campus look enticing. But the reality is we’re often in windowless rooms just like the one above, and often with less comfortable seats and more bog-standard overhead lighting.

Waterloo English goes to Congress

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Congress 2014, Brock University

For the uninitiated, Congress is an annual Canadian conference where a variety of social science and humanities societies meet. It moves around Canada–it was in Waterloo two years ago–but it is always in spring. This year it is being held at Brock University and eighteen members of our department, graduate students and faculty alike, are scheduled to present at different association meetings, with even more in attendance.  The magnificent Waterloo English graduate secretary, Julie-Anne Desrochers, has pulled all of this information together in a single location.  As you can see, Waterloo English is represented across seven organizations total, everything from the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, to the Canadian Association for Theatre Research, to the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing, and more.

There’s significant diversity in the papers as well, as evident by the contributions of some of Waterloo English’s Master’s students. For instance, Farrah Nakhaie is presenting on Canadian poetry (“Too Greek for me: Instability and reconstruction of rhetorical place in Wanting in Arabic“),  while Adrienne Raw investigates academic pedagogy (“Approaches to TA Training and their Impact on Students and Teachers”), and Kaitlyn Holbein considers a Georgian writer (“The reappraisal of the rhetorical ‘other’: An interpretation of select writings of Hester Thrale Piozzi”). Wishing everyone the best for Congress 2014–may your cords be adaptable and may your fellow panelists stay within the time limits!

Graduate Student Colloquium, March 21, 2014

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Announcing the 2014 Student Association for Graduates in English (SAGE) colloquium, “(Im)Mobility: Transgression & Control,” on Friday, March 21. There is a fantastic lineup of papers by graduate students in the department.

This year, SAGE is excited to welcome Dr. Morgan Holmes as the visiting speaker. She will deliver the keynote address, “Thinking Cripistemically about Sexuality in High and Popular Culture,” at 4:00 pm. Dr. Holmes is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is the author of Intersex: A Perilous Difference (2007) and the editor of Critical Intersex (2009).

Dr. Andy Houston and Dr. Paul Cegys of the UW Department of Drama will also discuss the multimedia performance, “From Solitary to Solidarity: Unravelling the Ligatures of Ashley Smith”. The performance will take place in the Theatre of Arts on March 19, 20, and 22 at 8 pm. Tickets are available at the box office in Hagey Hall.

Be sure to register for the colloquium here: http://sage.uwaterloo.ca/contact

Poster design by Natalee Blagden.

Reporting on a Graduate Student Symposium

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Thank you to graduate student Gian Mancuso for this guest post on the Invisible Cities graduate symposium, held in conjunction with the Total Money Makeover Conference, which was featured last week. There were speakers, exhibits, not to mention a fantastic opening reception.–JLH

After a heartfelt welcome from the very gracious Prof. Victoria Lamont, Prof. Beth Coleman set the stage for the impetus behind this symposium, carving a path from Italo Calvino to the Internet of Things, located knowledge, new media production, big data, and scholarship.

Our first keynote speaker, Marc Tuters, explored the overlooked history of augmented reality and its impact on a certain ‘West Coast’ ideology by looking through the eyes, so to speak, of Google Glass. This fascinating analysis was also a demonstration of what Tuters calls Media Genealogy, an approach founded on Foucault’s ideas on genealogy as a method for deconstructing truths that appear ahistorical and untouched by the operations of power–the kind of truths which are pervasive in Silicon Valley.

Cameron Butt explored the implied, invisible city of Windsor in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor by examining the locative semiotics of exit and entrance direction, and posits that a computational analysis of these patterns may reveal new knowledge and understanding of the plays of Shakespeare and others.

Toronto Sound Map

Toronto Sound Prints creators Scott Kobewka and Sheraz Khan exhibited their stunning works and explained their methodologies, musing on potential applications and future directions in this project. You can see more of the project and listen in on the sounds that generated the images here.

Ned Prutzer analyzed two locative art projects, Mushon Zer-Aviv’s You Are Not Here: A Dislocative Tourism Agency (YANH) and Paolo Cirio’s Street Ghosts, illustrating how each designer’s Situationist tactics demystifies the invisible yet pervasive technological infrastructures of our modern cities.

Lauren Burr and Sarah Gibbons presented their locative augmented reality game Cytopath. They spoke about their design vision of remapping bio-ethical concerns and arguments onto Kitchener’s downtown core, and the challenges they faced in implementing it.

Our second keynote speaker, Dr. Nicholas Balaisis, reminded us that media can have alternate histories, that even ‘old’ media can have new and emergent uses today. Thanks to a half-century long embargo, film remains ‘new’ media in the foothills of rural Cuba, where dedicated and creative individuals innovate on the material practices of an old form to bring their love of film to those who would otherwise never have the opportunity to see it, viscerally demonstrating that innovation is not limited to what is new, and stagnation to what is old.

A big thank you again to our sponsors, the Canadian Association for American Studies (CAAS), the Critical Media Lab, City as Platform, and the University of Waterloo’s English Language and Literature department. We encourage everyone to keep the discussions going and keep in touch with any progress you make on your projects.

A great conference at Waterloo

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panel presentation

Thanks to Victoria Lamont and Kevin McGuirk, faculty in Waterloo’s Department of English Language and Literature, for organizing and hosting “Total Money Makeover: Culture and the Economization of Everything,” an incredible interdisciplinary conference. Generously supported by SSHRC, and sponsored by the Canadian Association for American Studies, the conference featured amazing speakers, papers, panels, and one exhibition.

Plenary speaker Jim Stanford of Canadian Auto Workers was a popular favorite, as attested to by the fact that the audience was still repeating his jokes 18 hours later. The second plenary speaker, Randy Martin, of the Tisch School of the Arts, managed to tie together economics and dance together in truly unanticipated but much appreciated ways—including some physical demonstration of his thesis. I, for one, never expected to hear Martha Graham and derivatives placed in conversation.

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Invisible Cities reception

Graduate students working under Dr. Beth Coleman organized and mounted an exhibition in conjunction with the conference titled “Invisible Cities: Located Knowledge and Digital Design.” The reception afterwards drew the conference attendees to the Communitech Hub, where we interacted with exhibitors and participants.  Those graduate students who came to the panel organized just for them about career paths received amazing advice from faculty ranging from an academic VP (Bruce Tucker), to the president-elect of ACCUTE (Jason Haslam), to a recent book prize winner (Stephen Schryer), to Waterloo’s own Aimée Morrison, co-founder and contributor to the popular hookandeye blog.

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faculty-graduate student networking event

I saw so many fantastic papers I can’t even begin to list them. Peter Robert Brown (Mount Allison) woke us all up at 8am with musical supplements to his paper on the LA Punk music industry and the ethics of production in the 1970s; Art Redding (York University) gave a paper on Prohibition Culture with a surprise reveal at the end (hint: Al Capone), and there were papers on Depression-era scrip (Sarah Elvins, Manitoba) as well as the 19thC shinplasters of African American author William Wells Brown (Ross Bullen, Mount Allison). Recently defended PhDs Ashna Bhagwanani and Craig Love (both Waterloo) presented on 19thC depictions of female criminals and Emily Dickinson, respectively. As always, graduate students from a host of institutions and programs gave solid papers: Chris Vanderwees of Carleton wins for giving his paper, and also filling in for another panelist at the last minute. Two active CAAS members co-presented papers written with their students, Bruce Tucker (Windsor) and Nat Hurley (Alberta).  I really wanted to see the paper by Nat and Brianna Wells on operatic versions of Moby Dick, but was on at the same time. So, unfortunately, was the hotel’s fire alarm, but everyone was so friendly through it all, it hardly mannered that a few papers had unexpected intermissions in the parking lot.

Again, thanks to Victoria and Kevin, who I would like to believe are napping somewhere right now. And if anyone reading this makes it to Banff in 2014 for the American Circuits, American Secrets conference please do buy them a drink—they are very deserving.

Excuse the bad photo quality. The President of CAAS–me–is just too busy taking note of what people are doing to think about composition.–JLH