Category Archives: Faculty

11 Encounters with Mennonite Fiction

Screenshot 2017-12-01 11.21.46.png
If you have taken a course in Mennonite writing at UWaterloo, it might have been taught by Hildi Froese Tiessen, now Professor Emerita, and editor of the forthcoming 11 Encounters with Mennonite Fiction (Mennonite Literary Society, 2017). You are invited to attend a launch for the book on Thursday, December 7th, at Conrad Grebel at UWaterloo in the Schlegel Community Education Room. Also being launched is Silentium: And Other Reflections on Memory, Sorrow, Place, and the Sacred, by Connie T. Braun.




Dr. Neil C. Hultin passes

Screenshot 2017-11-22 14.11.02

Unfortunately, we are announcing the passing of Dr. Neil C. Hultin, who spent many productive years in the English Department at UWaterloo.

HULTIN, Neil C. 1934 – 2017 Neil Hultin, a longtime professor in the Department of English at the University of Waterloo, passed away on November 21, 2017 after a brief illness. For the last two years he resided at the Columbia Forest Long Term Care Home in Waterloo. He is survived by his wife Beryl, their children Philip, Geoffrey and Karen, and grandchildren Aidan, Cameron, Ethan, Michael, David, Sarah and Benjamin. Neil was born in Kenmare, North Dakota, the youngest child of Clarence Philip Hultin and Edith Eleanor Johnson Hultin. Neil’s brother Carmen Philip (“Buddy”) and sister Eileen were already teenagers when he was born. Neil’s father died quite young in 1937, as a consequence of being gassed during WW1, leaving Edith to raise the family single-handedly through the last years of the Depression. Neil’s brother left home to serve in the US Army Air Force during WW2, and his sister married. Edith and Neil lived in a tiny apartment above a shoe store in Minot, N.D. through the 1940s, although Neil spent summers in Donnybrook, N.D. on a relative’s farm. He never forgot his North Dakota roots even though his life took him far from where he started. Neil discovered strong intellectual interests in school, which led him to pursue post-secondary education, the first of his family to do so. He obtained a B.A. from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1955, and the following year he married Beryl Helen Juhala. Together, they moved to Chicago where Neil earned an M.A., and then to Baltimore where he studied at Johns Hopkins University to obtain the PhD. His decision to pursue an academic career led to a brief teaching appointment at the University of Arizona, but the offer of a tenure-stream assistant professorship at the University of Western Ontario induced him to move the family to Canada in 1963. In 1969 he relocated to the University of Waterloo, where he remained in the English Department until his retirement. His scholarly focus expanded and changed over the years from his initial interest in Medieval English literature, to include linguistics, folktales and fairytales, folk medicine, and the activities of various 18th and 19th Century British intellectuals. Neil also maintained a deep interest in theology and religions. Books on these topics featured prominently in his library. He published several scholarly books, as well as articles in international academic journals. He was a popular teacher and mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students. At home, he welcomed and encouraged family discussions of history, current affairs, or philosophy around the breakfast table or late at night in front of the fireplace. Neil was a devoted husband and father. He valued home and family above all, and was happiest sitting in his house or garden with his family around him. He gave generously whenever friends, neighbours or family asked for his help, but rarely asked for anything himself. He was proud of everything his children and grandchildren did but humble about his own accomplishments. The family extends deepest gratitude to the staff at Columbia Forest for the love and support they gave to our father. We also are most grateful for the friendship and assistance given by Joe Brito of Aurora Home Care over the past two years. A Celebration of Life will be held in the Fireside Room of the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home , 171 King St. S., Waterloo on Saturday, November 25, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Parkinson Society Canada may be arranged by contacting the funeral home at or 519-745-8445.

Faculty win research grants!

Screenshot 2017-03-29 14.58.35
Congratulations to UWaterloo English’s Dr. Winfried Siemerling, who has received a SSHRC grant of over $100, 000 for his research project “Call and Responsibility: The Transformative Reception Aesthetics of Black Canadian Literature, Film, and Music.” As I wrote to him, I can’t wait to see him spend it all, and am even more excited about the research it will produce! Earlier-announced 2017 award holders in English include Dr. Alysia Kolentsis, for “Shakespeare’s Changing Language: Early Modern English and Linguistic Innovation” and Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, for “Networked Expertise as a Novel Approach to Complex Problem Solving.”

Dr. Vinh Nguyen wins Polanyi Prize!

Do you know someone formally designated an “exceptional researcher”? UWaterloo English’s Dr. Vinh Nguyen (Renison) has been, with the receipt of a 2017 Polanyi Prize. One of just five to be honoured, he is the only English professor on this list, as well as the sole UWaterloo faculty member. I asked Dr. Nguyen if he might share a few sentences about this research–here’s what he wrote:

“My project investigates how and why former refugees advocate for, stand in solidarity with, and come to the aid of, those who seek asylum in Canada and the United States. The project is driven by the following set of research questions: How do moments of solidarity and support between refugees enable us to reconsider our understanding of humanitarianism? What narratives arise when we recount North American immigration history through relational and coalitional experiences across different refugee groups? What does the work of social activism by former refugees tell us about the concept of refuge?”


Weird Fiction from Dr. Sarah Tolmie

Screenshot 2017-11-09 15.53.57
Looking for new–and perhaps unconventional–reading? Volume 4 of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction (Undertow Publications) will soon be available in bookstores, and includes a story from Dr. Sarah Tolmie of UWaterloo English.

Music and the Road with faculty and grad students

Screenshot 2017-11-13 13.07.53
The UWaterloo Bookstore has a shelf dedicated to faculty authors: eight of the twenty-four books currently on display are by English faculty. If they want to give us a full third of the display (!), they might order in Dr. Gordon E. Slethaug‘s Music and The Road: Essays on the Interplay of Music and Popular Culture of the American Road (Bloomsbury, 2017). Dr. Slethaug is both editor and contributor. Other UWaterloo English contributors include Dr. Chad Wriglesworth and PhD students Virginia Shay and Evelyn DeShane.

Are you following Academic Ableism?

Screenshot 2017-05-15 12.00.46
You may recall an earlier post, announcing Dr. Jay Dolmage’s new book, Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education. It is coming out in a few short weeks, and if the wait is just t0o much, you might want to read this interview with Dr. Dolmage on the press’s website. A preview:

I am always searching for visual and spatial metaphors to try and explain things to myself and to others. The contrast between ramps and steps on college campuses is one of those metaphors…When you walk around campuses, the steps really are steep and they are wide, and they are everywhere—and they aren’t really about mobility, they are architectural statements on the most important buildings. So they send a message…[of] schooling as a place to sort society, to decide who gets to go up to which step and who does not. Is this really how we want to think of education—as a place that solidifies and reinforces unequal privilege and unequal access?