Category Archives: Uncategorized

Beyond 60: GRADtalks: Justin Carpenter

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Join us, as Doctoral students explore one research theme from interdisciplinary perspectives.

Justin CarpenterJustin Carpenter

PhD Candidate in English,                                             Faculty of Arts

Justin Carpenter, on the other hand, will raise concern on what we teach computers, what data we feed and how this is collected. He asks how virtual spaces transform our society and us as human beings? Do we even have the capacity to handle Aladdin’s Jinn once it’s let out of the bottle?.

Audrey ChungAudrey Chung

PhD Candidate in Systems Design Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

In a world with increasingly reliance on computers and robots doing most of our work – from managing our finances, to diagnosing diseases to driving our cars – Audrey will explain how artificial intelligence is created through a process of deep learning drawing on enormous amounts of data to deliver precision.

May 30, 2017
4:00-4:45 pm – wine and cheese
4:45-6:00 pm – talks, including question and answer
Cost
Free – registration is required
Location
EV3 – Environment 3

1408
200 University Avenue West

Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1

Canada

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.”

Dr. Condon on Campus Mental Health

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I am thrilled to share the text of Dr. Frankie Condon‘s speech at the March 30th Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s (OUSA) Partners in Higher Education Dinner. Dr. Condon was there to receive the UWaterloo Federation of Students Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award for 2017. Each year, the Feds awards one instructor at the University of Waterloo who has exemplified innovative teaching and has shown dedication towards ensuring academic success for undergraduate students.Dr. Condon used the opportunity to discuss mental health. The text of her speech follows:

“Thank you so much. I am more touched, more honoured than I have words to express. For me—and I know for my colleagues as well—there is no greater reward than to have earned the respect of our students. The students I have met at the University of Waterloo have taught me, have delighted me, and have challenged me. I have been moved to do the best I can as both a scholar and a teacher by the depth and breadth of their intellectual curiosity and engagement, by their delight in learning, and most of all by the integrity of their commitment not only to their own success, but also to that of their peers—by their courage, their humility, their compassion, and their kindness. To be recognized by them is the greatest honour I can imagine.

But I would be remiss, I think, irresponsible even if I did not say this—to all of you, especially to you. Imprint, the University of Waterloo’s campus newspaper reported this week that during the last 365 days, an estimated 596 of our students have attempted suicide. I am sure many of you know that the University of Waterloo has lost two students to suicide this term. Their tragic deaths have devastated students, faculty, and staff, as well as their families and friends. I did not know the two students who took their own lives at my university, but many years ago, during my second year as an undergraduate student at York University, I lost my father, who was also a professor, to suicide. And so this loss hits particularly close to home for me. In such a moment, when sorrow seems to overwhelm joy and despair threatens to isolate us even as we need each other most, this much seems clear to me: intellectual growth and development can never be separated from emotional and spiritual well-being. We cannot teach well if we do not attend to the fullness of the humanity of our students. There are many matters about which I am uncertain, but this much I believe: we will serve our students, our institutions, our communities, our nation, and the world far better by putting humanity at the centre of our curricula and humaneness at the heart of our pedagogy. There is, in reality, no intellectual cost, no abandonment of “rigour” required to do so. The truth is that kindness, respect, generosity—love—is the enabling condition for all learning. More than our disciplines, more than the subjects we teach, more than the assignments we design, more than the grades we give, the humanity of our students and the quality of humaneness with which we treat our students is at the heart of teaching and learning. I don’t know why our two students chose to end their lives, but I do feel certain that we must change—our institutions, our teaching, ourselves. This is the least we owe to the students who have died, to their families, and to the students now before us in our classrooms. It is to my students and to the labour of humanizing my classrooms and my institution that I dedicate myself; I hope you all will join me, because I really do believe that when we put our hearts and minds, our will and our hard work together we can make a world worth staying for.”

A-Congressing we go, 2017 edition

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Once again it’s that time of year where many of us pack our laptops and head to Congress, the largest academic gathering in Canada. The 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences will be held at Ryerson University from May 27 to June 2. As usual, UWaterloo English faculty and graduate students are well-represented. From King Lear to Grindr, from Jane Austen to vaccines, from Madeline Thien to Neurocognitive Ontology, our people have it covered. To see a full list, visit our Current Congress Presentations page; to see lists of Congress presentations from previous years, see our Past Congress Presentations page.

Image: Cord organizer from Canadian company Fieldwork

Congratulations to the New Quarterly

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The New Quarterly
, a literary journal housed at St. Jerome’s at The University of Waterloo, has garnered four nominations at this year’s National Magazine Awards, two nominations in the Fiction category as well as one each for Poetry and Essay. The nominees are:

* Sharon Bala, for Miloslav [Fiction] — a three-time recipient of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Arts and Letters award, her debut novel, The Boat People, is to be published in early 2018.

* Richard Kelly Kemick, for The Unitarian Church’s Annual Young Writers’ Short Story Competition [Fiction] — an award-winning Calgary writer who has published poetry in TNQ, he has two other nominations in this year’s National Magazine Awards.

* Selina Boan, for “(Good) ‘Girls Don’t Hitchhike’ / Half/Brother / Meet Cree: A Practical Guide to the Cree Language” [Poetry] — was a finalist in last year’s CBC Poetry Prize; she is working on a collection of poems exploring her Cree and European heritage.

* Liz Windhorst Harmer, for “My Flannery” [Essay] — won a National Magazine Award in 2014 and was nominated for another; her debut novel, The Amateurs, will arrive next year.

Close to 200 Canadian print and digital magazines submitted their best, in both official languages, with TNQ receiving the most literary nominations. “We are absolutely thrilled with the number of award nominations this year,” says TNQ editor Pamela Mulloy. TNQ, a charitable not-for-profit organization, has won 10 gold, 7 silver and had 35 honourable mentions in the 18 years that it has participated in the National Magazine Awards. The National Magazine Awards winners will be announced on Friday, May 26 at a gala in Toronto.

Photo caption: Michael Helm, Madeleine Thien and Alissa York (from left) holding each other’s books at last year’s Wild Writers Literary Festival, organized by TNQ, in Kitchener-Waterloo. Thien’s novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

A PhD dissertation that is also a game?

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UWaterloo English PhD grad Steve Wilcox didn’t write a conventional dissertation by any stretch. Rather, his thesis combined allergies, education, and games studies. Specifically, Steve argued that “games can be used to translate knowledges between communities and cultures. This is accomplished by training the player’s imagination to discover knowledge that is situated in unfamiliar social and cultural situations.” As part of this, Steve created a game titled Allergory. It features a young girl named Mia who has a peanut allergy. Through the game, “Players work with Mia as she migrates to a new school where she is the first food-allergic student. The game is intended to help non-food-allergic persons understand the social, cultural, and practical reality of having a food allergy.” Now you can play the game online. Dr. Wilcox is a full-time faculty member in the Game Design & Development program at Laurier-Brantford.

Steve Wilcox’s dissertation committee members were: Drs. Aimée Morrison, Beth Coleman, and Marcel O’Gorman.