Category Archives: Faculty

New faculty book: Get Away From Me

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Congratulations to Dr. Tristanne Connolly, professor of English at St. Jerome’s at UWaterloo on the publication of her co-edited volume Canadian Music and American Culture: Get Away From Me. Contributors include several UWaterloo English faculty: Dr. Veronica Austen (on Jann Arden), Dr. Mark Spielmacher (on Max Webster) and Dr. Connolly herself (on Rush).

From the press:

This collection explores Canadian music’s commentaries on American culture. ‘American Woman, get away from me!’ – one of the most resonant musical statements to come out of Canada – is a cry of love and hate for its neighbour. Canada’s close, inescapable entanglement with the superpower to the south provides a unique yet representative case study of the benefits and detriments of the global American culture machine. Literature scholars apply textual and cultural analysis to a selection of Anglo-Canadian music – from Joni Mitchell to Peaches, via such artists as Neil Young, Rush, and the Tragically Hip – to explore the generic borrowings and social criticism, the desires and failures of Canada’s musical relationship with the USA.


End of summer round-up

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Sometimes so many interesting things are happening at UWaterloo, it is hard to keep up. Here are a few of the news items about our faculty, alumni, and students you might have missed this summer.–JLH

UWaterloo Arts News published an article on the Games Institute, the brainchild of English’s Dr. Neil Randall. The accompanying photos–however unintentionally–provide an excellent tour of their new space.

UWaterloo English’s Dr. Win Siemerling and alumnus Dr. Kris Singh both contributed essays to a special issue of The Puritan celebrating Canadian author Austin Clarke. See “Myth Grounded in Truth”: Sound, Light, and the Vertical Imagination in Austin Clarke’s ’Membering and “Bread like peas!”: The Gastronomical Dialogue of Austin Clarke and Sam Selvon.

Dr. Norm Klassen received an Association of Catholic Publishers 2017 Excellence in Publishing Award — Theology, 3rd Place for The Fellowship of the Beatific Vision: Chaucer on Overcoming Tyranny and Becoming Ourselves.

UWaterloo PhD English graduate Robert Clapperton has been hired in a tenure-track position at Ryerson University.

English doctoral candidate Jessica Van de Kemp has published her second poetry chapbook, Daughters in the Dead Land (Kelsay Books, 2017).

Congratulations to all!

Globe and Mail interviews Dr. Clive Forrester

You may know Dr. Clive Forrester of English at University of Waterloo–he’s an expert in applied linguistics, with a specialization in forensic linguistics. What that description doesn’t  tell you is that he is also an expert in Jamaican Creole. Which meant, when the Globe and Mail needed an expert on the ways in which patois has become part of Toronto, of course they interviewed Dr. Forrester. You can read more about how the popularity of patios has been met with mixed reactions at “Di soun in di city.”

Comically speaking with Dr. Linda Warley


Dr. Linda Warley was recently interviewed by Inside Arts about her research and book. We are please to share just a bit of the fine reporting Inside Arts does about our campus culture.

Comics to graphic texts

Comics means everything from the serialized comics in newspapers to sophisticated works of art in graphic form. We tend to use the term graphic novel to encompass all forms, but in our book Canadian Graphic, the essays look very specifically at graphic books that are not novels, but are based on autobiography (writing about the self) or biography (writing about another ‘real’ person). The subtitle of our book is “Picturing life narratives.”

The genre is generally associated with Marvel superheroes; but Canadian work does not always fit with that genre – not at all! They are often anti-heroic; in fact, they are sometimes downright mundane in terms of the everyday-ness of the lives depicted.

This is the first book-length publication that specifically focuses on Canadian authors, and that was the most important thing to Candida Rifkind, my co-editor, and me. While there are many well-known Canadian comics authors such as Seth and Chester Brown, they tend to be subsumed into North American lists and studies rather than being recognized specifically as Canadian authors.

When we were reading submissions for the book, we were really impressed with the kind of sophisticated analytical strategies that the authors brought to the genre – the kind of nuance they identified in the graphic texts.

Are graphic texts a good way into studying literature?

They can be! We have to develop new forms of literacy, and I think that’s fine – things change. Teaching graphic texts in undergrad courses is a wonderful opportunity to teach students about reading at a critical distance. Unlike literary texts, you’re looking at pictures and words, the frames on the page and their arrangement, the amount of white space, the colours — all those elements.

Graphic texts (or comics) have not been particularly valued as a form of literature until quite recently. But graphic texts are definitely a dominant form now and are taught in universities and high schools; libraries including, academic libraries, have large collections; and there are plenty of publications and conferences focused on the genre.

A few favourite graphic texts

I find the memoir Tangles by Sarah Leavitt about her mother’s dementia is really moving; and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chas is about the author’s relationship with her aging parents – something I can really relate to. That’s what the graphic form can do: for instance, when the artist draws the narrator in a state of real anxiety or anger, it can be conveyed in a really powerful way in an image; you can look at it for a second and feel that rage or frustration.

Among Canadian graphic texts, I would say Chester Brown’s Riel is a deeply thoughtful and well historicized work about the Northwest Resistance. I’ve used it in my Métis literature class because it gives a basic background and really interesting insights into the final years of Riel’s life – and it’s a fast read. Chester Brown is very self-conscious that he is representing the story as a non- Métis, so there are footnotes and other para-textual material. And there’s no question of Seth’s influence and power: his visual style is instantly recognizable and he has an international reputation.

Who would be interested in Canadian Graphic?

Scholars of autobiography would use it, many of whom look at multi-modal texts – texts that are not traditionally just written. There is a lot of interest in Canadian courses. Last week I was in Montreal and went to the Drawn & Quarterly bookstore (Drawn & Quarterly is a leading publisher of graphic texts), and it was nice to see the book is carried there — especially given it’s a scholarly book in a mainstream store. Words Worth Books here in town sells it, and McNally Robinson in Winnipeg held a book launch for us. So, it’s being sold to the general public.

It’s a very readable book. The writers did an excellent job making their essays accessible to a broad audience. In fact, that’s one of the reasons it won the Gabrielle Roy Prize: readability is one of the criteria.

For me, it’s a career highlight, to win that prize for a book of criticism. And, my colleague Win Siemerling won the Gabrielle Roy Prize last year; it’s remarkable that two profs in the same department at Waterloo have won the prize two years in a row. I think it really does say something about the strength of Canadian studies here.

Read more from Inside Arts.

Dr. Danielle Deveau in NYT

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You may recall reading about UWaterloo English’s Dr. Danielle Deveau‘s research on comedy, SNL, Trump, and more in a previous Words in Place post. Now you can read about it in the New York Times article “Canada’s Comedy, the Voice of a Polite Nation, Rises in the Trump Era.”


Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

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Are you aware that the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies is nested in UWaterloo English, edited by Dr. Jay Dolmage? The latest issue is out online–and in French! Topics range from philanthropy, children, and polio in mid-twentieth-century Montreal, to contemporary arts. Also posted are two calls for papers for upcoming special issues, one titled “Disabled Sexualities,” the other “Survivals, Ruptures, Resiliences.”

Image: Marybel – The Doll That Gets Well. 


University Research Chair: Dr. O’Gorman

Screenshot 2017-06-22 10.24.01The position “University Research Chair” is a prestigious one, recognizing “exceptional achievement and pre-eminence in a particular field of knowledge.” We are excited to announce that University of Waterloo English’s Dr. Marcel O’Gorman now holds this position–one of only two who do so in the faculty of arts. In other news, Marcel has also accepted the position of Graduate Chair of English.