Category Archives: Graduate students

Alumna Eleanor Sudak wins HeforShe

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Congratulations to English alumna Eleanor Sudak, who is among the winners of the 2018 HeForShe writing contest at University of Waterloo. Eleanor won first place in the poetry category for her poem “Today We Say Thailand.” The winning submissions have been published in a special anthology presented by the Book Store and Writing Centre in support of the HeForShe 10x10x10 IMPACT framework.

English was well represented on the judging panel and included Dr.  Sarah Tolmie (English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts), PhD candidate Tommy Mayberry (who is also an Instructional Developer, Centre of Teaching Excellence), and MA candidate Marisa Benjamin.


Congratulating our PhD students

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It’s the time of year when our PhD students once again participate in UWaterloo Arts’s Three Minute Thesis competition. The 3MT is “a friendly but intense contest where graduate students present the complexities of their research in an engaging and accessible way before a live audience” in just three minutes. The winner will represent Arts at the University of Waterloo 3MT final competition on March 21. And this year’s winner is English’s Jason Lajoie, who presented “Queering Media Technology, Queer Media Practices 1890-2018.” Meghan Riley, also a PhD candidate in English, placed third with “Changing Bodies, Changing Minds: Reading and Watching Speculative Fiction for Teaching Social Change.” Jason is being supervised by Dr. Marcel O’Gorman and Meghan by Dr. Victoria Lamont. Congratulations to our winners!

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Good news for graduate students!

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Incoming *domestic PhD funding increased to $100,000 over four years

The Faculty of Arts offers increased funding in 2018 to help prospective doctoral students overcome financial barriers with $100,000 paid over four years. This is the minimum guaranteed amount for all incoming domestic PhD students; some students may receive additional funding. Read more about PhD funding.

Incoming *domestic research-based MA funding topped-up by $5,000

The Faculty of Arts offers additional funding to exceptional domestic students entering a research masters program in 2018. Eligible students must have achieved a GPA of 85% or higher in their previous two years of study. Read more about MA funding.

*Domestic students: You are a domestic student if you are a Canadian citizen, living in or outside of Canada; or, if you are a Permanent Resident of Canada.

Image credit: Eric Jardin

Today: flip a coin–and follow CBC’s advice

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Colloquium or reading? Colloquium or reading? Colloquium or reading? Or… both?! CBC has strong feelings about how you should spend today at Waterloo!

Late morning, you could attend with the second CTE Teaching Colloquium featuring English and Philosophy grad students, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in HH 373. You are welcome to bring your lunch, in case you get hungry listening to:

  • Maša Torbica, “The Classroom as Territory: (Re)Negotiating a Decolonizing Pedagogical Praxis”
  • Teresa Branch-Smith, “Creating Inclusive Classrooms amidst Discriminatory Content”
  • Meghan Riley, “Women’s and Gender Studies Across the Curriculum”

Abstracts for the presentations can be found on Colloquium’s events page.

Later in the day, there’s a reading by Mariam Pirbhai on Friday 12 January at 4:30pm in SJ1 3027 (St Jerome’s at the University of Waterloo). Mariam Pirbhai is the author of a debut short story collection titled Outside People and Other Stories (Inanna 2017), praised by award-winning novelist Shani Mootoo for its “clear-eyed compassion, generosity and literary brilliance.” And it was just ranked #6 in CBC’s Top 95 Must Read recommended books of 2017!

Alumna Marsilda Kapurani: Rhetoric, Art, and the Real Housewives


I never thought I would be discussing an alumna’s contribution to the Real Housewives of Toronto. But that’s only a small portion of this interview with MA grad Marsilda Kapurani, who talks about the direct link between her time studying rhetoric and digital media at UWaterloo, and her subsequent career. Thanks to Marsilda for participating!

JLH: Can you tell us why a Masters in English was a good fit for you?
MK: Aside from the great reputation the university has, choosing UWaterloo was obvious for me because, the previous year, my husband had started his PhD program in Engineering at the same university.

In choosing the program, I considered my work experience and the career path I wanted to follow after my MA. In the four years after my BA, I had worked as a teacher, translator, and marketing manager. In the future, I wasn’t sure whether I would pursue art, marketing, or teaching. For these reasons, the Rhetoric and Communication Design program suited my interests better, since its applicability in art, academia, and business would provide me with more flexibility in my future professional choices. In retrospect, I couldn’t have chosen a more interesting program to study.

JLH: What did you enjoy the most about your time at UWaterloo?
MK: The whole experience was interesting and enjoyable. I loved the courses, especially the ones concerned with the Theory of Rhetoric and Digital Media. The digital media courses gave me a deeper insight in a rising medium that continues to shape our private and professional reality in a way that was incomprehensible 20 years ago.  If I had to mention my favorite courses, they would be the ones taught by Dr. Neil Randall, Dr. Aimée Morrison, and Dr. Michael MacDonald. Also, I really enjoyed working as a TA for a Business Communication course.

Additionally, some of the people I met during that time became close friends and we have managed to stay in touch since.

JLH: How have you used your degree since graduating? Has it been as you expected?
MK: English is my fourth language. As such, the MA programme provided me with useful tools for using the language beyond direct communication by exploring a deeper dimension of it – rhetoric. As an artist, interior designer, and marketing coordinator, I am always working with different people that have different interests, and communication is always a two-way street. When I am creating a painting or designing a room, the only means I have to understand my client’s visions are words which I have to translate into a visible and tangible product. I can confidently say that rhetoric has been extremely useful and necessary for me in performing well in all of these areas as it can influence people’s perspective of reality and convey a clearer message. Whether the medium is paint on canvas, a 3D design of a room, or a written digital ad, I feel rhetoric provides such practical knowledge that can only improve a professional’s performance.

JLH: Someone mentioned you in connection with the Real Housewives franchise–can you explain a bit about that? 
MK: Well, my involvement with Real Housewives of Toronto was very accidental. Before the show started, one of the “housewives” happened to visit the design office where I work and she saw my artwork there and really liked it. She commissioned a few pieces before the show and then another one for her wedding anniversary as a surprise present for her husband, which occurred while the show was being recorded. The painting was featured on the show when she surprised her husband with it, and she was very nice to name me as a local artist.

JLH: Finally, because I like to ask: what are you reading for fun?
MK: Currently, I am reading Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore. It’s a non-fiction book based on research drawn from over 25 countries. Through this book Livermore tries to provide insight on the diverse and global workforce we are living in, and especially how leadership has become a multicultural challenge. He provides a four-step CQ to help decision makers navigate international relations and the multicultural workforce effectively, respectfully and confidently.

In addition, I love architecture and interior design books. I just finished Candice Olson’s Favorite Design Challenges and can’t wait to read the Printed Textile Designs by Amanda Briggs-Goode.

You can follow Marsilda on Instagram and Facebook.

Open House at the Critical Media Lab

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UWaterloo English’s Critical Media Lab is hosting an Open House on Friday, December 1, from 4pm – 7pm.
There will be demonstrations of new CFI-funded equipment such as a laser cutter, 3D printer, brain wave interface controller, and MYO armband developed by local startup Thalmic Labs. Come and join us in imagining how to critically deploy these instruments in a manner suitable to the arts and humanities. CML Lab Technician Matt Frazer will facilitate the demonstrations.

Three students from the English Department’s XDM MA programJulie Funk, Miraya Groot, and Caitlin Woodcock — will have their final projects on display in the lab, and they will be present to take questions and give demonstrations.

Students from ENGL 760: Things in Philosophy and Literature, co-taught by Dr. Kevin McGuirk and Dr. Marcel O’Gorman, will also be showcasing their “things.”

Finally, Professor Matt Borland, a CML collaborator from Systems Design Engineering, will invite us to play some of his experimental digital music instruments.

Refreshments will be served.

Hope to see you at the lab. 44 Gaukel Street, Kitchener, ON, adjacent to the Charles Street Bus Terminal.

Image: BasketCase by Caitlin Woodcock

Music and the Road with faculty and grad students

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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.