Category Archives: Faculty

Welcome to Fall Open House

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This past weekend some of our dedicated English faculty and students participated in the Fall Open House, welcoming potential students and their parents to UWaterloo, and answering any questions they might have about our program. An English degree by co-op? Check, we have that. Traditional courses in literature, alongside courses in Professional Communication, Rhetoric. and Digital Media? Again, yes! A wide range of online courses? A minor in Technical Writing? Of course–we’re UWaterloo. Creative Writing? Absolutely–complemented by the presence of a national literary magazine on campus (The New Quarterly), and a series which brings acclaimed writers to campus to read.


Thanks to all of our fantastic volunteers, as well as those who came out to learn more about our program.


Read all about it!

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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.

Entertaining Futility with Dr. Andrew McMurry

Congratulations to UWaterloo English’s Dr. Andrew McMurry on the publication of his new book Entertaining Futility: Despair and Hope in the Time of Climate Change. As one reviewer writes: “Andrew McMurry is the vibrant bard of our ‘sad apocalypse’ — brilliantly literate, always entertaining, a ‘corrective to [our]…blind faith in progress and human exceptionalism.’ This supremely realistic book, the best I have read in a long time, shows that there is still a way to live — to more than survive — without indulging in the illusory comforts and false hopes that keep us from seeing the sharp rocks so close ahead.”

From the press:

In playfully pessimistic and thought-provoking essays, author Andrew McMurry explores a vital but fundamentally perverse human practice: destroying our planet while imagining we are not. How are humans able to do this? Entertaining Futility: Despair and Hope in the Time of Climate Change investigates the discourses of hope, progress, and optimism in the era of climate change, concepts that, McMurry argues, are polite names for blind faith, greed, and wishful thinking. The itemized list of humanity’s arrogance can quickly lead to despair, so McMurry compensates by presenting the news in a darkly comic and irreverent style.

McMurry believes human culture relies on a full suite of rhetorical tricks to distract us from our own demise. He investigates the role language, discourse, media, and technology play in shaping perceptions and misperceptions of our complex environmental crises. Writing in a mode that freely mixes the scholarly, fictive, poetic, and personal, McMurry draws on philosophy, history, ecology, film, science fiction, and pop culture to raise questions that are difficult to face, let alone answer. In the author’s words, “our age is utterly paralyzing unless you can crack jokes about it.”

Entertaining Futility offers no easy solutions to today’s environmental calamities and, in fact, claims that perhaps the continual proposing of solutions is part of the problem. Instead, McMurry encourages readers to examine their own deeply held beliefs about the environment and the future and to look more closely at where those beliefs originate. By pulling back the curtain, he reveals the rhetorical and cultural ruses that distract us from the reality of our environmental crises.

Marcel O’Gorman on “Techlash”

UWaterloo English professor, University Research Chair, and director of the Critical Media Lab Dr. Marcel O’Gorman has a piece in the Globe and Mail on techlash, Thalmic Labs, and just-in-time for Christmas. Arguing that techlash and reasonable critiques of bad design cannot be conflated, he also warns us not to fear “a clumsy army of horn-rimmed zombies who bootleg plays at the Stratford Festival.” You can read it here.

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Diversity and Change in the Arts: A Conversation

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Join us on Oct 17th, for “Diversity and Change in the Arts: A Conversation with Pam Patel, Artistic Director of MT Space”

Founded in 2004, MT Space is the Waterloo Region’s first and only multicultural theatre company. Its mandate is to create, produce, and present high quality artistic performances and cultural events reflective of the people who live here. Please join us for a conversation between Pam Patel (Artistic Director, MT Space) and Dr. Lamees Al Ethari (Department of English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo) as we discuss the role of MT Space in fostering meaningful interaction through art and culture in our communities.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 17, 4:00pm
WHERE: EV3-Environment 3, Room 4412

Pam Patel is an actor who has toured nationally to cities including Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria, and has traveled overseas to perform in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. She is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s music program. Pam’s creative work has focused on improvisation, in both music and physical theatre, and has had her talents showcased at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Stratford Summer Music Festival. Pam has been an Artistic Associate at MT Space since 2009, and was appointed Artistic Director in July 2016.

Lamees Al Ethari, Ph.D., is a faculty member in English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. Her collection From the Wounded Banks of the Tigris was recently published with Baseline Press. Her book Waiting for the Rain: A Memoir, on the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, is due for publication in 2019. Her work is also published in The New Quarterly, About Place Journal, The Malpais Review, the anthology Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here and has been printed as broadsides. She is currently completing her book, Resistance and Memory in Iraqi Women’s Life Narratives.

New poetry from Dr. Lamees Al Ethari

Congratulations to Dr. Lamees Al Ethari, whose book of poetry From the Wounded Banks of the Tigris has just been published by Baseline Press. There was abook launch last night in London, and copies start shipping soon. From Baseline:

Lamees Al Ethari is an Iraqi writer and artist who immigrated to Canada in 2008. She holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Waterloo, where she has been teaching academic and creative writing since 2015. Her research focuses on Iraqi North American women’s life narratives of trauma and migration. Her memoir on the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Waiting for the Rain, is due for publication in 2019.

New faculty book on Eugenics, Race, and Immigration

Congratulations to Dr. Jay Dolmage, whose new book Disabled Upon Arrival Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability has just been published by Ohio State Press. As many know, he is the Founding Editor of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, housed at University of Waterloo.  Reviews have described the books as “Beautifully written, sometimes almost poetic, and yet strongly argumentative. This is by far the best work on the subject of eugenics and immigration” (Susan Schweik, author of The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public). A description follows:

In North America, immigration has never been about immigration. That was true in the early twentieth century when anti-immigrant rhetoric led to draconian crackdowns on the movement of bodies, and it is true today as new measures seek to construct migrants as dangerous and undesirable. This premise forms the crux of Jay Timothy Dolmage’s new book Disabled Upon Arrival: Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability, a compelling examination of the spaces, technologies, and discourses of immigration restriction during the peak period of North American immigration in the early twentieth century.

Through careful archival research and consideration of the larger ideologies of racialization and xenophobia, Disabled Upon Arrival links anti-immigration rhetoric to eugenics—the flawed “science” of controlling human population based on racist and ableist ideas about bodily values. Dolmage casts an enlightening perspective on immigration restriction, showing how eugenic ideas about the value of bodies have never really gone away and revealing how such ideas and attitudes continue to cast groups and individuals as disabled upon arrival.