Category Archives: Uncategorized

Virtual Reality: It’s Here

English’s own Dr. Neil Randall is one of the scholars contributing to “A new reality: Exploring dimensions of immersive learning,” a talk scheduled April 23rd. His contribution is titled “Understanding complex issues through virtual reality narratives.” Dr. Randall is  director of the Games Institute. Since 2010, his research has focused on studying game-driven interactions and technologies. In 2012, he was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant to form a games research network, now called IMMERSe, which studies player experience and behaviour. At Research Talks, he will discuss the potential of virtual reality to help us understand the intricacies of complex situations and issues.

For more information, including the other participants, visit the event site.

When: Tuesday, April 23rd, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m
Where: William G. Davis Centre, Room 1302


“In Works of Hands or of the Wits of Men”: meet our newest PhD graduate

Congratulations to our newest PhD graduate, Dr. Morteza Dehghani. On April 3rd he successfully defended his dissertation, titled “In Works of Hands or of the Wits of Men”: The Elegies of Wim Wenders, Laurie Anderson and Alexander Sokurov. Co-Supervisors were Drs. Kevin McGuirk and Alice Kuzniar, with committee members: Drs. David Williams and Ken Hirschkop. Dr. Élise Lepage served as the internal/external examiner, and the external was Dr. Angelica Fenner of Germanic Languages & Literatures and Cinema Studies, University of Toronto. Thank you to all who participated.

“In Works of Hands or of the Wits of Men”: The Elegies of Wim Wenders, Laurie Anderson and Alexander Sokurov

This dissertation explores the concept of loss and the possibility of consolation in Wim Wenders’s The Salt of the Earth, Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog and Alexander Sokurov’s Oriental Elegy through a method that inter-reads the films with poetic elegies. Schiller’s classic German elegy “Der Spaziergang” (“The Walk”) and Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies have been used in examining The Salt of the Earth and a late Hölderlin poem “In libleicher Bläue” (“In Lovely Blue”) is utilised in perusing Oriental Elegy. In Heart of a Dog, Rilke’s “Schwarze Katze” (“Black Cat”) and Derek Walcott’s “Oddjob, a Bull Terrier,” among others, shed light on the working of the elegiac. I have put these films in a conversation with poems to investigate how a filmic elegy can be informed by poetic elegies and how the two arts operate similarly while they are governed by varied sets of rules. While most studies on loss are informed by psychoanalytical theories, I have focused on the formal ways in which these films portray loss and consolation, using one art, poetry, as a guiding framework to illuminate the other art, film. I propose that in The Salt of the Earth, the movement of the elegiac benefits from Deleuzian montage as the film strides towards solace manifested in resuscitation of Amazonian forests and the art of photography. The technical montage and the thematic elegiac converge. Heart of a Dog, however, bases such a motion of elegy on the Buddhist concept of Bardo, where the narrator “decreates” and then re-creates her self through the remedy of love. Finally, Oriental Elegy operates within an apophatic discourse, proposing metaphor and poetic thinking as potential yet transitory sources of consolation. While these films grieve different object of loss, ranging from humans, animals, lands, and even abstract, philosophical concepts such as the meaning of life and happiness, and whereas they introduce various remedies such as art, love, and metaphor, they function similarly formalistically. Taking its cue from Diana Fuss who revisits Freudian melancholia and benefitting from the idea that correlates loss and creativity or “figuration” as observed in Julia Kristeva and Peter Sacks, this dissertation shows how the grieving subjects are positioned in an in-between status which allows them to move forward in the face of loss. This in-betweenness, I have proposed, is manifested in an elliptical structure in the films. In their passage from sorrow, the bemoaning subjects resort to small sources of solace, loci amoeni, signified by different formal and technical elements in the films. Once analysed cinematically and placed in a dialogue with poetic elegies, the Epilogue brings all the films in one place, examining them in relation to Robert Hass’s poem “Meditation at Lagunitas.” Inter-reading the films with this poetic elegy reveals that the musing speaker in the poem and the narrators in the films face loss similarly. What defines loss is the distance between the subjects and their loved lost ones or things, a lacuna that cannot be filled and, hence, the bewailing subjects resort to a kataphatic expression, to naming, which is repetitive, open-ended, and elliptical.

English Awards Ceremony 2019

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Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Awards Ceremony.  This is a special occasion where we recognize and celebrate the talent and achievements of our department’s undergraduate and graduate students.  This year’s event takes place on Friday, March 22nd, from 12:30-2:30pm in AL 211.  The first half an hour allows you to mingle and enjoy some light refreshments, and then the ceremony begins promptly at 1pm.

Cultural Competency Workshops from Faculty

Dr. Vershawn Ashanti Young is featured in Waterloo stories, in relation to cultural competency workshops: “The workshops held across the U.S. and Canada often run with the help of Frankie Condon, a professor of English Language and Literature. They include consultations with academic departments hoping to revise their curriculum to be more culturally inclusive.” Read more here.

Grad Students Organize Conference

The Tri-University Conference is a collaboration between English students at the University of Guelph, the UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO, and Wilfrid Laurier University. This year, the University of Waterloo is hosting. Read on for the Call for Papers:

Why do we do what we do? In our increasingly corporatized higher education with more and more emphasis on profits and finding a job, we often have to justify why what we do matters. The Arts in general are significantly underfunded and undervalued due to the perception that our work is irrelevant beyond the walls of the classroom. The public often judges the relevance of a discipline based on how it might translate into a viable source of income. This conference aims to explore the values inherent and provided by the pursuit of higher education in literary studies and the humanities. What do we seek to gain through our education and how does it benefit others? What responsibility do we, as scholars of the humanities, have in our society? How has the humanities changed to address these questions?

Possible topics: Value of Higher Education, Literature/Film/Rhetoric/Garnes and Social Change, Representations of Ethics/Responsibility, Eco-Criticism, Disability/Wellness/Mental Health Rhetoric, Labour/Class and the University, Social Activism, Community-Based Research and Pedagogy, Concepts about the ”Ivory Tower,” Role of Public Scholarship, and More. 

Submit work to Include an abstract of 250-300 words, a short bio of 50-100 words, your contact information, and affiliation as well as your dietary restrictions/ food preferences. Conference will take place on April 12th from 9am-5pm in E2 1732, University of Waterloo.

David A. Robertson to Read

Join us for a talk and book signing with author/illustrator David Alexander Robertson – part of the 2018-19 Indigenous Speakers Series. David A. Robertson is the bestselling author of children’s books, graphic novels, and novels, many of which have won awards. His works educate and entertain readers about Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation, and lives in Winnipeg. To check out his prolific publications, visit David Robertson’s website.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2:30 to 4:00 PM
WHERE: Theatre of the Arts

Special Honour for 2 PhD Candidates

Congratulations to English PhD candidates Devon Moriarty and Monique Kampherm, who have been named HASTAC Scholars. HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology and Collaboratory) Scholars are a community of students working at the intersection of technology and the arts, humanities, and science. These scholars collaborate with others in the community to write blog posts, produce webinars, host twitter chats, coordinate meet-ups, interview leaders in the digital humanities, and just about anything else that engages with academia in the digital age. As part of the program, HASTAC Scholars are required to have mentors who assist students in navigating the 2-year program. Dr. Ashley Mehlenbacher is mentoring Devon, and Dr. Randy Harris is mentoring Monique.