Category Archives: Research

Dr. Acheson’s book makes news!


Shakespeare and Milton are in the news–really, Shakespeare and Milton are in the news–and it is all due to the scholarship and connections facilitated by the new edited book, Early Modern Marginalia from UWaterloo English’s Dr. Katherine Acheson. The bare essentials are as follows: Cambridge University fellow Jason Scott-Warren, whose essay is in the volume, was reading the other chapters, including one by Penn State professor Claire Bourne about a seventeenth-century annotated folio of Shakespeare’s work. In reviewing the images included in her chapter, he recognized the handwriting as that of John Milton. With Bourne’s permission, he blogged about the possibility, and fellow Milton scholars weighed in–and concurred. As The Guardian writes:

It has always been known that Shakespeare was a huge influence on Milton – in his poem On Shakespeare, Milton calls him a “son of Memory” and “great heir of fame”, writing of how “Thou in our wonder and astonishment / Hast built thyself a live-long monument.”

“But this allows us to see the encounter happening,” said Scott-Warren. “It shows you the firsthand encounter between two great writers, which you don’t often get to see, especially in this period. A lot of that kind of evidence is lost, so that’s really exciting.”

The Washington Post, The Guardian, and others, have all reported on the find, and Bource and Scott-Warren are planning a series of co-authored articles.


How well do you know our faculty?

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A late summer quiz: how well do you know us?

  1. Who has published on neoliberalism and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
  2. Who has a research grant from Women’s College Hospital?
  3. Who wrote ” ‘We Weren’t Hip, Downtown People’: The Kids in the Hall, the Rivoli and the Nostalgia of the Queen West Scene’”?
  4. Which faculty member authored a piece on Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese?
  5. Who among us has a BS in Clinical Lab Science?
  6. Who has published in three different languages?
  7. Any guesses who has a Wikipedia page?
  8. Can you guess who has published on British Romantic Women’s Midwifery Books as well as the Canadian musical group Rush?
  9. Any idea who has published on Superman?
  10. Who received a grant to study eighteenth-century women who passed as men?



Dr. President of RhetCanada?

Congratulations to English’s Dr. Bruce Dadey, who has been elected president of RhetCanada, the Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric. Elections were held at the RhetCanada meeting at Congress this June in Vancouver. RhetCanada is an association for Canadian scholars who are interested in the history, theory, and application of rhetoric across a broad range of fields. The organization includes both Canadian and international scholars, and because rhetoric is a central area of study in Waterloo English’s undergraduate and graduate programs, many Waterloo English faculty and students also participate in the organization. For more information on RhetCanada, see the RhetCanada website.

Congratulations to our SSHRC winners!

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Congratulations to Dr. Jay Dolmage and Dr. Aimée Morrison, who have both received SSHRC Insight grants. Dr. Dolmage’s grant will facilitate his research on Academic Eugenics;Dr. Morrison will be investigating the Rhetoric of the Selfie.

The Shakespearean Theatre Conference

As if any more evidence was required that we have active and engaged scholars of Shakespeare at UWaterloo: Dr. Ken Graham and Dr. Alysia Kolentsis have been busy organizing the third Shakespearean Theatre Conference to be held June 19-22, 2019, in Stratford, Ontario. The conference offers an opportunity to think broadly and creatively about the past, present, and future of Tudor-Stuart drama, and this year places special emphasis on our broad theme of “Festival and Festivity.” How do we understand and perform festive, antic, celebratory, or bacchanal elements in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries? How did these plays draw on and contribute to early modern festive cultures, and how have historical changes to such cultures shifted the meaning of theatrical revelry? To what extent is the festive limited or invigorated by genre and convention? In what ways do cultural and theatrical festivals, including dedicated Shakespeare festivals and Shakespearean playhouses, influence and shape contemporary Shakespearean performance? What do the histories of these festivals have to tell us about changing responses to early modern drama, and what new directions seem promising?

The conference is a joint venture of the University of Waterloo and the Stratford Festival, and will bring together scholars and practitioners to talk about how performance influences scholarship and vice versa. It is the successor to the Elizabethan Theatre Conference, which the University of Waterloo hosted 17 times between 1968 and 2005. Paper sessions will be held at the University of Waterloo’s Stratford campus, with plays and special events hosted by the Stratford Festival.
For more information, visit the event website.

I Know What You Did Last Weekend

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We are right in the middle of the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, held at the University of British Columbia from June 1-7. At this year’s conference over thirty papers and presenters represent the scholarly contributions of UWaterloo’s English department. This includes a wide range of graduate students and faculty.  Dr. Winfried Siemerling  co-organized and co-chaired (with Dr. Karina Vernon) the ACCUTE panel “Call and Response-ability: Black Canadian Art and the Question of Audience” (pictured above). PhD students Ashley Irwin and Sara Gallagher each presented single-author papers, as well as a co-authored paper titled “Remembering the Future: Afrofuturism as Testimony,” while department chair Dr. Shelley Hulan presented “Bridesmaids Revisited, or Canadians and Race in the Neverending Story of Royal Happiness.” PhD candidate Devon Moriarty shares her essay “A New Reddit: Reviving Hope through Rhetorical Citizenship” on June 6th, while fellow PhD student Asma Khaliq is presenting today, on The Wasteland. On Wednesday, Dr. Randy Harris and PhD candidate Kyle Gerber, Danielle Bisnar Griffin (undergrad), and Katherine Tu (MA alumna) will be presenting a co-authored paper “A Figure Is a Figure Is a Figure: The Cognitive-computational Approach to Rhetorical Figures.” To find out more about our research and who else from UWaterloo has or will present, see this (admittedly incomplete) list.

Photo credit: ACCUTE President Dr. Jennifer Andrews

Dr. McMurry and the Rhetoric of Climate Change Denial

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English’s Dr. Andrew McMurry’s research on climate change and denial is the subject of a Waterloo Stories profile. As Elizabeth Rogers writes:

It’s easy to spot traditional climate change denial. Just read the comments on social media or comments from public officials. Deniers say it’s a hoax, a cash grab or a natural process. They’re wrong.

Most data suggests that all but a handful of Canadians accept that human behaviour impacts the climate. But that doesn’t mean we’re past climate denial. According to University of Waterloo environmental humanities professor Andrew McMurry, we’re eager to accept that something bad is happening, but are in denial about what’s actually threatening us and that we need difficult transformative action to beat climate catastrophe.

“Our failure to act could be a rhetorical problem,” argues the author of Entertaining Futility: Despair and Hope in the Time of Climate Change. McMurry, who has a background in biology and a long-held interest in conservation, examines how language, narrative and cultural tradition shape our beliefs and understanding about the environment.

And it’s never been more crucial. Nearly everything we do — the food we eat, the goods and services we rely on — produces greenhouse gases. Trying to fix this problem requires a top-down reordering of how we live, especially how we produce and consume energy.

So why aren’t we doing it?

For more see: “Are we all a little guilty of denying climate change?”