Category Archives: Undergraduate Students

Award for undergrad Danielle Bisnar Griffin

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Congratulations to UWaterloo English undergraduate Danielle Bisnar Griffin, winner of the DiMarco Undergraduate Scholarship in Computational Rhetoric. This is not her first award from UWaterloo; she previously received the Quarry Integrated Communication Co-op English Award for her report ”Comparative Data Visualizations of Textual Features in the OED and the Life of Words Genre 3.0 Tagging System,” which addressed the work completed during a co-op semester. Danielle was kind enough to share with us a bit about what made her application stand out:

I received the award for my enthusiasm for computational rhetoric, evidenced by my participation in Dr. David Williams’ project The Life of Words and the research interests I developed due to working there. During my time at The Life of Words, I have completed co-op reports that examine the rhetoric of genre using computational methods and I have pursued these interests towards a senior honors essay, scheduled for completion March 2019. I have also consistently committed to improving my computational skills by attending conference skills workshops throughout my undergrad. Finally, I have also been working with Dr. Randy Harris and Dr. DiMarco’s Rhetorical Figures team, in which we work to develop an ontology of rhetorical figures. This is inherently very computational.

Thank you to Danielle for participating in Words in Place, and to alumnus Sam Pasupalak (BCS ’12) for funding the award.–JLH


Welcome to Fall Open House

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This past weekend some of our dedicated English faculty and students participated in the Fall Open House, welcoming potential students and their parents to UWaterloo, and answering any questions they might have about our program. An English degree by co-op? Check, we have that. Traditional courses in literature, alongside courses in Professional Communication, Rhetoric. and Digital Media? Again, yes! A wide range of online courses? A minor in Technical Writing? Of course–we’re UWaterloo. Creative Writing? Absolutely–complemented by the presence of a national literary magazine on campus (The New Quarterly), and a series which brings acclaimed writers to campus to read.


Thanks to all of our fantastic volunteers, as well as those who came out to learn more about our program.

Congratulations to our Fall 2018 Grads!

Some don’t know this, but following convocation there is a reception with cupcakes in Waterloo colours, beverages, and, English faculty in robes (or not). We are there to congratulate you, greet your parents, tell them wonderful things about you, and pose for photos. Congratulations to our Fall 2018 Undergraduates:

Nicole Mitchell
Alexandra Palczewski
Rachel Christensen
Tabasum Qasemi
Brian Freiter
Shannon Bradley
Michelle Hamilton
Shannon Poon
Mackenzie Wallace
Tammy Tran
Selina Sharma
Kiranjot Toor
Britton Russell
Natalie Maduri
Brandon Kong
Tyler Black
Ibelemari Kio
Taylor Mackay
Alexandre Laronde
Edith Maccan

Engl 108P, Popular Potter, now online

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

Typewriters! Femme fatales! Zeppelins!

English 460A: Early Literature of the Modernist Period in the United Kingdom and Ireland, taught by Dr. Dorothy Hadfield this fall, promises modernism as you’ve possibly never imagined it. Typewriters! Zeppelins! ZEPPELINS! There’s something delightfully steampunk about it all. Read on to find out more about English 460, which runs Tuesday/Thursday 10:00-11:20am.

Vampires. Prostitutes. Typewriters. Femme fatales. Zeppelins.
As the world moved towards the 20th century, the spirit of modernism was in the air… and on the ground, and in the machines…. Literature of the fin-de-siècle reflected both the optimism and the anxiety of a nation in transition. This is the age of Dracula and Sherlock Holmes—villains intent on destroying the sociopolitical order and agents intent on thwarting them. It’s the age of Major Barbara, pitting a Salvation Army crusader against her arms-dealer father in an argument over which of them will save the world. But some of the most controversial literature of the period revolved around Grant Allen’s notorious novel The Woman Who Did, hotly debating the propriety of what the woman did – or didn’t – do. In this course, we will look at both the literary texts and the historical and social contexts in which they were written to examine how a range of early modernist writers were coming to terms with the future they see approaching.

English 408B: The Discourse of Advertising

I am grateful to anyone who gives me an excuse to share that vintage image of a pig bisecting itself. In this case, it’s Dr. Gordon Slethaug who, this fall, will be teaching English 408B: The Discourse of Advertising. According to the description:

Print advertising is dead; Long live advertising. Well, no, door-to-door advertising mainly involving newspapers, magazines, and other printed material and is not entirely dead, but it no longer represents the main thrust in advertising or the bulk of revenue. Still, because TV and digital advertising now surrounds us in ways that it never did before, the volume of it and the revenue have been steadily climbing and are expected to climb further. Moreover, of the 584 billion dollars spent on advertising in the US in 2017, over 50% of that is said to be on Google and Facebook. In fact, 97% of Facebook’s enormous revenue comes from advertising. So, the face of advertising may have changed, but the consumer is increasingly influenced as never before. This course will introduce students to the history and present reality of the discourse and rhetoric of advertising that surrounds us at home and increasingly abroad. In addition, students will have ample opportunity to write about advertising, create ads of their own, and compile a portfolio of advertising copy and discussion to show prospective employers.

Barry, Pete. 2017 (third edition). The Advertising Concept Book. New York: Thames and Hudson
Various online and PDF articles on LEARN as required
“Glen talks” by Glen Drummond (Quarry Communications) and Gordon Slethaug

Test X 2 (30%)
Twice a term (Oct. 16, Nov. 29), in a full class period of an hour and twenty minutes each, students will write a test applying readings and lecture material to ads. Each test will cover a specific section of the course. Both will hold equal weight with regard to your final grade. (15% each)

Advertising Portfolio: Reflections (32%/8% each)
Students will create and maintain a portfolio for the duration of the course. Four reflections of about 1200 words each submitted on LEARN as well as in hard copy will give students the opportunity to create, analyze, and edit ads within the context of course readings and lecture material. Reflections will include:
–Oct 2: Use Barry’s basic tools and campaign analysis to unpack an advertising       campaign
–Oct. 11: Reflect on the semiotic use of color in a campaign
–Oct. 30: Reflect on the use of males or females in advertising or relationship between the two
–Nov. 15: Subtervise (substitute/revise) either a single ad or campaign

Advertising Portfolio: Major Campaign (15%)
–Nov. 27:  This major assignment will require students, working in groups of three (a sign-up sheet will be distributed), to design and comment on a multi-platform advertising campaign (consisting of 3 print ads, 2 TV spots, 1 viral component), present the projects in class, and submit them to me.

In-class presentation (13%)
Students will work in groups of three to make PowerPoint presentations on material for one particular day.  This should be 30 minutes long, commenting on some of the main take-away points of readings with reference to selected ads.

Participation (10%)
By enrolling in this course you obligate yourself to read the assigned texts in advance of class, attend classes, and enter readily into class discussion. Our class discussions will be an important part of your learning, and that is reflected in the mark distribution. Should you miss a class, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed.


Literature of the Romantic

Looking for a 4th year course for Fall 2018? Why not consider English 430A: Literature of the Romantic, taught by Dr. John Savarese?

This course will offer an introduction to the first half of the Romantic period. Often characterized as an “Age of Revolution,” the Romantic period saw a variety of approaches to (and breaks with) tradition, from modes of governance to poetic style. We will begin by studying the poetry, prose, and images that circulated in the wake of the French Revolution, with particular focus on the development of a discourse of human rights in literature and political rhetoric, and culminating in William Blake’s various treatments of the power of the imagination. The next weeks of the course will focus the relations among Romanticism, revolution, and the literary gothic. We will conclude the course by revisiting perhaps the most traditional location of a “revolution in poetic language”—the Wordsworth circle—in light of the broader interests, anxieties, and experiments we will have surveyed. Our last sessions will focus on an additional text we choose together, with the aim of producing a concrete outcome (e.g. an annotated text or digital resource) that future classes can use.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (Dover, 9780486281223)
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (Broadview, 9781551114798)
Coursepack (available on LEARN; please print and bring to class)

Participation 25%
Exercise 1: 2-page “close reading” 10%
Exercise 2: 5-page short paper 15%
Exercise 3: Final Project 20%
Self-evaluation 1 (at mid-term) 5%
Self-evaluation 2 (end of term) 5%
Final exam 20%