Category Archives: News

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.

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Engl 108P, Popular Potter, now online

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Grab your quills and keyboards! As of Winter semester 2019, you can take English 108P, Popular Potter, online. Are you curious about how Rowling draws on mythology and folklore to ground and structure her novels about the boy wizard? Perhaps you have always wanted to talk about the traces of World War II in the novels, or consider how the ideology of the Fabian Society influences Dumbledore’s philosophy and the Order of the Phoenix. Do you have a burning desire to express your frustrations with Harry’s romance with Cho–but in literary terms, which reflect on the limitations of narrative voice? Or maybe you can’t wait to talk about Dobby and why it’s initially funny when he is forced to hurt himself, but then suddenly isn’t humorous at all. Setting aside all of these possibilities, what about the luxury of taking a course for which you probably have already done the reading in advance? Wingardium Leviosa!

Image source: Etsy

Amazing News x2 from Tommy Mayberry

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UWaterloo English PhD candidate Tommy Mayberry is having a bumper April. First, he accepted a position as an Educational Developer, on the Educational Development team at the University of Guelph. And he has won an Innovation in Education Award, from The University of Pittsburgh’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence (ACIE) for “The Science Library Project.” Tommy shares the award with Dr. Sarah Ruffell , an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Division of Biological and Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh – Bradford, and a Waterloo alumna (PhD in Biology, 2017) as well as graduate of our Certificate in University Teaching (CUT) program at CTE.

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A description of the project:

To emphasize the importance of public outreach and science communication within STEM, and to foster in students a greater appreciative understanding of the scientific content within their courses, the Science Library Project has students creating children’s books about key course content. At the end of this project, the student writer-publishers are able to display their critical and creative work as they collaborate with local teachers in a networked conversation about science and multimodal communication. This innovative pedagogical approach to assessment is important both inside and outside of the Sciences because it participates in High Impact Practice (HIP) pedagogy to have students invest a significant amount of time and effort over an extended period of time as they participate in frequent, timely, and constructive feedback and, most importantly, have the opportunity to discover the relevance of their learning through real-world applications in the public demonstration of their book projects. The Science Library Project activates written and visual communication modes to motivate Science learners to engage with course concepts in deeper and creative ways.

Images reproduced from student work with permission. Sarah and Tommy both are sharing this work as a poster presentation at our UWTL conference on campus today–stop by to learn more!

Where is undergrad Tyler Black going?

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Waterloo English Undergraduate Research

By Paula de Villavicencio

University of Waterloo English undergraduate student Tyler Black secured a spot in the first round competition of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Design of Communication (ACM SIGDOC) Student Research Competition. The competition will take place this summer at the association’s annual conference, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Microsoft-supported event provides up to 500 dollars (US) to assist with travel costs for students selected to participate. Black’s research investigates several post-secondary courses that incorporate cross-disciplinary material, and the manner in which the course instructors communicate not only the core disciplinary content, but also cross-disciplinary lessons.

Black’s interest in cross-disciplinary technical communication stems from their own educational and work experience. Having worked as a technical communicator, and completed studies first in Physics and then in English, Black has a range of experience to help frame these pedagogical questions. Black also developed their research skills during several research assistantships as part of a Fall 2017 co-op term. Black worked on three different University of Waterloo projects: Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher’s Networked Expertise project; with the Games Institute’s Virtual Reality group (work Black has been involved with as a research assistant will be presented at the upcoming Lake Ontario Visionary Establishment 2018 Conference), and with Dr. Randy Harris’s Computational Rhetoric group (work Black has been involved with as a research assistant will be presented at the upcoming CMNA 2018 Conference and the IACS 2018 Conference).

As a continuing research assistant with the Networked Expertise project in the Waterloo Science and Technical Communication Group (@WatSciComm on Twitter), Black recognized their own research interests in terms of post-secondary education and training. “Being at the University of Waterloo itself has really allowed me to work in such an interdisciplinary field, and has given me a place to do this amount of research at an undergrad level,” commented Black. “Being part of the WatSciComm team has also aided me in my research, not just because of the amazing resources, but also the great team I’ve worked with.” Black was granted ethics approval for their study of cross-disciplinary classrooms, allowing them to publish the results, the culmination of which will not only be presented at the 2018 ACM SIGDOC student research competition, but will also form the basis for Black’s Undergraduate Honours Essay.

Black will be continuing their education at the University of Waterloo as a Master’s student in the Rhetoric and Communication Design program in Fall 2018. They will also stay on the WatSciComm team as a research assistant with Dr. Mehlenbacher. Black explained, “if you have something that you want to do, something that might benefit not just your own education but the education of other people, then you should go for it.”

Photo credit: Paula de Villavicencio

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.

SNL, Trump, and more: Dr. Danielle Deveau

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I am eager to share the news that we are welcoming Dr. Danielle Deveau (back) to UWaterloo’s English Department. Her academic work on the politics of humour has never been more timely, and her work on cultural mapping initiatives is crucial. Read on to find out about these– and how she deliberately seeks surprises in brown paper packages!

JLH: We’re thrilled to have you as part of the department, but recognize you’re not new to teaching, here or elsewhere. Can you tell us a bit about your trajectory?
DJD: I completed my PhD in Communication at Simon Fraser University in 2013. During my degree, I taught professional communication as well as media studies courses on popular culture and sports. I then worked as a postdoctoral research at Wilfrid Laurier University. My project evaluated and curated cultural mapping data in the Waterloo Region. Since that time, I have continued to consult with the City of Kitchener on issues related to cultural mapping, cultural planning, and the development of cultural scenes.

I started teaching part-time here at Waterloo in September 2013. At first, I only taught English 109 Online, which I really enjoyed. I loved the opportunity to work with graduate students. I had a one-year, full-time contract teaching English 109 and 119 in 2014/15. This was a great experience and the primary reason I decided to apply for the three-year contract that I am starting this summer. I’m looking forward to teaching English 109 to Math and Computer Science students again, but also all of the media theory courses that I am slated to teach over the next few years.

JLH: Have you found yourself using your PhD research in the classroom?
DJD: My Phd Dissertation was on humour and laughter, so I have definitely found it to be a popular topic in the classroom. I have found that my students consume a lot of comedy programming – be it stand-up videos on youtube, or latenight comedy like the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. They are really engaged with the critical potential of humour in popular culture and we’ve had some great discussions. Because I primarily teach writing, I also show students some of my own academic writing at various stages in order to illustrate the many, many stages between idea to research to draft to finished product. I could do this with any research topic, but I hope that because I’m writing about humour, they find my research a little less boring than they might otherwise….

JLH: Can you tell us a bit about the research you are doing now?
DJD: Currently, I am doing work on the politics of humour (especially related to the newfound relevance of SNL in the Trump Presidency), as well as organizational communication research on the role of humour in reinforcing workplace cultures. In terms of applied local research, I am still evaluating cultural mapping initiatives in the Waterloo Region, especially related to user-experience and audience development.

JLH: You’ve done a fair bit of community outreach in K/W. How has that shaped your experience?
DJD: The work I’ve done with local governments and non-profits completely shifted my research focus. I realized that many of the theories I had been working with had a lot of value in applied research and that I could use my training to help resolve real economic development challenges. It has been very satisfying seeing my work end up in cultural policy documents, or used to direct new cultural initiatives.

JLH: Finally, if you had time to read for pleasure this summer, what would be at the top of your list?
DJD: My undergraduate degree is actually in Canadian Studies and I still find that I gravitate towards CanLit. I received Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle for Christmas and am still trying to find time to read it. Maybe this is the month! Usually when I am in the mood to read a new novel, I go to Words Worth Books uptown and buy one of their “surprise” books (they wrap books in brown paper and leave a note to tell you what genre the book is, but nothing else). I like the element of chance and they always curate great selections!

U2 licenses alumnus’s work

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This is probably one of the more unusual Words in Place posts. It appears U2 (yes, that U2, with Bono) has licensed the work of UWaterloo English alumnus George Elliott Clarke, in advance of their upcoming Vancouver concert. Clarke, as you may recall, is currently poet laureate of Canada. As reported by Quill & Quire, they will feature “Ain’t You Scared of the Sacred?: A Spiritual” and “Elegy for Leonard Cohen.”