Category Archives: News

Keep those award nominations coming


Congratulations to UWaterloo English’s Dr. Sarah Tolmie, whose novel The Stone Boatmen (Aqueduct 2014) was nominated for the 2015 Crawford Award. This comes on the heels of the announcement that her poetry collection Trio (McGill-Queens UP, 2015) was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. And just this week Aqueduct announced the publication of Tolmie’s Two Travelers, a pair of portal fictions. Of this newest volume Publishers Weekly writes:

Author and professor Tolmie (The Stone Boatmen) delivers an exquisite duo of short stories in this slim volume…. Rich with detail, both stories are imbued with baroque sensibilities, a refreshing deviation from the typical medieval setting. Rather than relying on pure exposition, Tolmie uses the characters’ interactions and personalities to bring color to the unique magic of each setting. Tolmie’s investigations of identity, place, and personal meaning are a delight to read and a great contribution to the genre.

For more information, including how to order, visit the McGill-Queens UP and Aqueduct sites.

Passing of Dr. Helen Ellis
Sadly, Dr. Helen Ellis, who joined the English Language and Literature Department at UWaterloo in 1965, passed away yesterday. After completing her PhD at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1964), Dr. Ellis taught at Purdue University before arriving in Canada. An interview with Dr. Ellis was conducted for the department’s fiftieth anniversary. There was not enough room to cover all of her achievements: in addition to all included there, Dr. Ellis also participated in the founding of the PhD, taught our first science fiction class, and collaborated generously with her colleagues in multiple ways. Her training was as a Keats scholar, but she went on to publish on William Blake, Romantic Periodicals, and more.

“In poem after poem and in his letters as well, feasting and sexuality are closely equated, so much so that eating and drinking become persistent metaphors for the hero’s relationship to his mistress.” –Dr. Ellis on Keats

There will be a visitation 7-9pm, Friday, September 25th at the Erb & Good Funeral Home, 171 King Street South, Waterloo, followed by a memorial service Saturday 11am, All Saints Anglican Church, 685 Highpoint Ave, Waterloo (the corner of Northfield and Westmount Road North). For further updates, see here.

Dr. Ellis is on the far right of the photo. Credit here.

Is Setting the Bar Lower for Girls Funny?

TargetWaterloo English professor Aimée Morrison tweeted the above photo, taken by another faculty member, Christine Logel, at a local Target. You know, just the kind of eye-rolling thing you see from time to time and feel compelled to share on social media. But then the internet weighed in, followed by the media: local, national, and international.

If you recall, it was a letter which went viral that caused Lands’ End to announce this year they would now also produce science t-shirts for girls. As of yet, there’s no sign of Target shifting gears. Amusingly, some online trolls seem to think the university will view Morrison’s tweet and follow-up commentary negatively (I’m not even linking–they don’t deserve it). Clearly, they are unaware of the degree to which the University of Waterloo is invested in the recruitment, representation, and success of women in STEM disciplines, which women have been traditionally discouraged from entering.

infant_bodysuit The fun part is the discourse analysis Morrison has brought to the discussion of infant onesies. If you are looking for more fun ways our female faculty and graduate students in English are mixing it up in the digital world, you might check out the GI Janes, dedicated to raising the profile of women in gaming.


Alumna publishes final book in trilogy


Congratulations to UWaterloo graduate Shelly Sanders, who has just completed the final book in her trilogy. Rachel’s Hope will be published in the United States and Canada in fall 2014 by Second Story Press, an independent Toronto-based feminist press best known for Hana’s SuitcaseRachel’s Secret, the first book in the trilogy, received a Starred Review in Booklist and was deemed “critical for its under-explored subject” by Kirkus Reviews.

If you want to see Shelly in person to congratulate her–or just support independent publishing in Canada, a worthy enough cause–she will be signing copies of all three books at Toronto’s Word on the Street on September 21st. There will also be a book launch 2pm, September 28th, at A Different Drummer Books in Burlington. Shelly also has a Facebook page dedicated to the trilogy.

First novel from Award-Winning Alumna

umbrella mender_cover

Congratulations to UWaterloo English alumna Christine Fischer Guy on the publication of her first novel, The Umbrella Mender, forthcoming from Wolsak and Wynn in Fall 2014. Advance reviews are strong; Miriam Toews, the Governor General Award-winning author of A Complicated Kindness, writes: “The evocative setting of a TB hospital in remote Moose Factory, a passionate and clandestine love affair, and the irresistible voice of intrepid nurse Hazel join forces to make The Umbrella Mender an absolutely compelling read from start to finish.”

You may recognize Christine’s name from her literary reviews for The Globe and Mail; she has also published in the literary magazines Descant, Prairie Fire, and Grimm and been nominated for the Journey Prize. In 2013 Christine won a National Magazine Award for “Burden of Proof” (in Eighteen Bridges), a  long-form journalism profile of native blogger Chelsea Vowel and the Attawapiskat crisis. Once again, congratulations!

NoFood: Professor Sarah Tolmie’s New Book

Please join me in congratulating University of Waterloo English professor Sarah Tolmie on the publication of her short story collection,
NoFood. Read on for Aqueduct Press’s announcement and description of the content.–JLH

From Ambling Along the Aqueduct:

I’m pleased to announce Aqueduct Press’s release of NoFood, a suite of original short fictions by Sarah Tolmie, who you may recall is the author of The Stone Boatmen, which Aqueduct released earlier this year. In NoFood‘s vision of the messy near future, food is the language of love. For top chef Hardy Arar, his whole life is food. What is he to do when technology eliminates the need for it? TGB (total gastric bypass) is a giant leap forward for humans longing to transcend their flesh. It has fulfilled the desire of the rich to escape illness, boring sustenance routines, and disgusting bodily processes. But like all technological change, TGB unleashes a cascade of effects, social, political, and economic, effects drastically changing the lives of the characters in NoFood. For what is lost with the elimination of the drive to eat?

“He was gracious to the end, Harwicke Arar. He was satisfied. He was still in possession of his nose; he was still in possession of his principles; he was still in possession of his own digestive tract. He had cooked the best food in the world, real and imaginary, and found someone to eat it.”—from “Cakes and Ale”

NoFood is available in print and e-book editions from Aqueduct’s website now, and will soon be available elsewhere.

Waterloo English’s GI Janes

GI Janes

There’s a new article on Waterloo English’s GI Janes, featuring PhD candidate Elise Vist. The article, by Megan Scarborough, is currently featured on the University of Waterloo homepage.. Here’s an excerpt:

“Rewriting the story of women in gaming: Can Frodo be a woman?”

When Elise Vist entered the gaming world she felt she had to prove herself not just as a gamer – but as a woman in gaming.

So when she arrived at the University of Waterloo to pursue doctoral studies, she co-founded GI Janes, a Games Institute group designed to raise the profile of women in gaming.

“I wanted a space to talk about what it felt like to be a woman who plays games,” says Vist, a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature, who co-founded the group with researchers, Emma Vossen and Judy Ehrentraut

Last semester, the group hosted a number of game nights with an emphasis on teaching women how to play and create games. They hope to expand their offerings to include more workshops for women in gaming. The GI Janes website is also used to talk about games from a female perspective.

The researchers were inspired after taking a class on adaptations of Lord of the Rings. The series didn’t resonate with them so they created a machinima – a short film recorded inside of a video game – entitled Lady Hobbits.

They created female characters in Lord of the Rings Online and reenacted the first four chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring. “We wanted to show that you can change the gender of the main characters and still be true to the text without reinforcing stereotypes,” said Vist. “Being able to rewrite the story for ourselves created a sense of empowerment as women.” With Frodo and Sam portrayed as women, the two felt a stronger attachment to the narrative, says Vist.

You can read more here.