Category Archives: Undergraduate Students

From Science to English: Alumnus Hoi Cheu

Hoi at CBC_Canada_Reads
Alumnus Hoi Cheu came to the University of Waterloo to study science–but one course later, he had started on the path that led him to become a professor of English at Laurentian University. Read on to find out which UWaterloo professor taught that course, and what Dr. Cheu is doing now!–JLH

JLH: Can you share how you came to study English at UWaterloo? Was it an obvious choice or route?
HC: Attending Waterloo’s English program was not an obvious choice. When I applied, I was a science student from Hong Kong. I got into Waterloo because I had an A+ average in mathematics and sciences. At Waterloo, I failed the English proficiency test and attended what was then called “the Writing Clinic.” I took English 109 with Dr. Murray McArthur, loved the class, and ended up in English Literature.

JLH: What stands out from your time here?
HC: Waterloo’s program is relatively small in a hugely successful university; it enjoys having world class innovations without the rigid constraints common to larger institutions. Its flexibility can also become adaptive care for students. For example, as an international student, I needed extra time to read difficult texts and complicated theories. My professors devoted many invaluable office hours to work with me. In my third year, I started to get ahold of the methods used in literary studies, and I received my first A+. Because of that little success, my professor invited me to attend his graduate course, and the program was flexible enough to allow the paper for that class to fulfill my undergraduate thesis requirement. In the program, I learned about poststructuralism, the new rhetoric, bibliotherapy…. All of them were cutting-edge ideas 30 years ago in 1987. Now, some of them have become the standard, and others are just beginning to flourish.

JLH: You also did a Masters in English at UWaterloo: how did that shape your understanding of graduate school and the possibilities?
HC: The MA program at Waterloo started my academic “split personality”: on the one hand, I continued the hard work of my undergraduate years on poststructuralism and James Joyce, which would become my doctoral thesis; on the other hand, I learned about bibliotheraphy from Dr. Joseph Gold, which would become my current practice in applied literature and arts-based health research. I presented my very first paper at Congress and developed my doctoral thesis topic before I graduated from Waterloo’s MA program.

JLH: Can you tell us a bit about your current research?
HC: My current research focuses primarily on the application of arts and literature in health and medicine. I have three major projects, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Ontario Ministry of Health respectively. They are all interdisciplinary, interprofessional teamworks: the first conducts a meta-study of arts-based health research in Canada; the second develops a social work program to engage arts and literature for helping youth at risk; the third tracks the stories of rural physicians who are graduates of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. All these longitudinal studies began around the time I completed my book in 2005, and they are bearing fruits at the publication stage.

JLH: Finally, once the semester is over what books do you look forward to reading?
HC: This year I invented a new course called “Science Writing.” All texts in this course are written by significant scientists who have successfully communicated mind blowing (if not life changing) ideas to the public. Although my research projects will take up most of my time in the summer, I look forward to the in-depth study of books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Published in 1962, this book almost single-handedly changed the public opinion on pesticide and led to the ban on the use of DDT for agriculture.

Photos: English Student Society Symposium

Friday, March 31st was the UWaterloo English Student Society Symposium. The theme was the Secret Garden. There was food! There was fun! There were presentations by students on their research and academic work!

Thank you to the English Student Society for organizing such a fantastic event.


Best kept secret: spring courses

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Shhh… quiet as it’s kept, we have some amazing offerings for spring. Want to study graphic narratives? Then check out the special topics course English 494. Or maybe you read the artsonline story on English 408C, Rhetoric of Digital Design, chock full of student testimonials about the strange and unexpected ways they honed their understanding of how technology impacts the human condition. Well, the course is being offered again! Or maybe you have a pesky older brother/sister/uncle who you are tired of fighting with over holiday dinners. You might consider English 409A: Rhetoric of Argumentation. And then there’s Shakespeare (English 363), because it’s summer, we are so close to Stratford, and it’s Shakespeare. For more courses see our webpage.

Reporting on the English Awards!

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Our annual awards ceremony, held March 31st, was well-attended as usual. The event attested to the incredible diversity of research being conducted in UWaterloo English. Joseph Stapleton won a prize for writing in rhetoric for his essay “O.J. Simpson and the Construction of Hyperbolic Reality”; Laura Bayer received an award for an essay on Dionne Brand’s novel What We All Long For that drew on the work of Spanish artist Remedios Varos. Likewise, Devon Moriarty’s award-winning essay considered “When Rhetoric, Science and Reddit Collide,” while Ian Gibson took up the novels of Cormac McCarthy through Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to explore quantum mechanics as a novelistic strategy, in the processing capturing a Beltz Essay Prize. Judges spoke of the difficulties in adjudicating awards. Dr. Victoria Lamont described feeling at one point that she had a “seven way tie.” For more about the awards and winners, see the full listing below. More photos are also available online.
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Undergraduate Award Winners

Grade Average Award Winners
Second Year Spring:  Kate Stericker
Second Year Fall:  Joanna Cleary
Third Year:  Kayley Marner
Fourth Year:  Isabelle Cote

Academic Awards
Walter R. Martin English 251 Award:  Masha Janjuz
Award in American Literature and Culture:  Alex Rollinson
Canadian Literature Prize:  Kathleen Moritz
History and Theory of Rhetoric Award:  Sarasvathi Kannan (runner-up); Theresa Shim (winner)
Rhetoric and Digital Design Award:  Trevor Nielsen (runner-up); Theresa Shim (winner)
Rhetoric and Professional Writing Award: Dominique Kelly, Elizabeth Scott, Erin Taylor, Christine Williams (group prize)
Andrew James Dugan Prize in Literature:  Alexandra Siebert
Andrew James Dugan Prize in Rhetoric and Professional Writing:  Joseph Stapleton

Co-op Awards
Quarry Integrated Communication Co-op English Award: Danielle Bisnar Griffin
Undergraduate Co-op Work Report Award: Carla Rodrigo

Creative Writing Awards
Albert Shaw Poetry Prize:  Zainab Ahmed-Yassin Mahdi
English Society Creative Writing Award for Poetry:  Joanna Cleary
English Society Creative Writing Award for Prose:  Chris Masterman
Graduate Creative Writing Award for Prose:  Lacey Beer
Graduate Creative Writing Award for Poetry:  Masa Torbica

Graduate Award Winners

Grade Average Awards
MA:  Julie Funk
PhD: Ian Gibson

David Nimmo English Graduate Scholarship:  Justin Carpenter
Jack Gray Fellowship:  Rebecca Anderson, Devon Moriarty
Graduate Co-op Work Report Award:  Andreea Perescu

Academic Awards
Beltz Essay Prize, MA:  Laura Bayer
Beltz Essay Prize, PhD:  Ian Gibson
Rhetoric Essay Prize:  Devon Moriarty
Graduate Professional Communication Award:  Devon Moriarty
W.K. Thomas Graduate Scholarship:  Jessica Van de Kemp

Teaching & Professionalization Awards
TA Award for Excellence in Teaching:  Kaitlin O’Brien (runner-up); Nicholas Hobin (winner)
Lea Vogel-Nimmo Graduate Professionalization Scholarship:  Ashley Irwin



English + Engineering = Art

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On Friday, April 7, the Departments of English and Fine Arts and the Faculty of Engineering will present an exciting double bill of digital art and technology at UWaterloo English’s 44 Gaukel Street in Downtown Kitchener.

The first is “Technically Art”: An interactive exhibition where technology and art converge. The exhibition features student work from the University of Waterloo Tech Art Course, FINE 392 / GENE 499.

The second is “=SUM(Things)”, which features a large number of media and data-based projects and installations from UWaterloo English XDM students, staff, community members, and various universities.

“The evening of April 7 will be a fun, lively, and thought-provoking event, which serves as a closing party for the Tech Art show and as an opening for the XDM exhibition,” says a note from the event organizers. “Everyone is welcome at this catered and licensed event, which will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The “Technically Art” exhibition is also offering public walk-in hours, hosted by students from the Tech Art course, from Tuesday April 5 to Saturday April 8 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

On Saturday, April 8, the Critical Media Lab will follow up their XDM exhibition with a symposium entitled “Data Publics/Data Paradigms” from 1:00 p.m. to  3:00 p.m., which will feature presentations from students from English 794 this past term

English Student Society Symposium

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Celebrate the end-of-term with an evening of food, drinks, and student lectures at the English Student Society Symposium! Students are encouraged to sign up and give a short presentation on a topic related to English Language and Literature.

Theme: The Secret Garden
Dress code: Semi-Formal
Friday, March 31, 7-10 p.m., HH 373

Students are encouraged to sign-up and present on:
· Creative writing pieces
· Academic projects or papers
· International exchange or volunteer experiences
· Academic research projects
· Co-op projects
· Other topics related to English

An RSVP is required for this event.
Please RSVP and/or sign-up to present by March 30th.

Please direct questions to

Counselling Resources on Campus and in Waterloo

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This week has been a difficult one for many in the UWaterloo community, following the death of a student. There have been many conversations in hallways, classrooms, and online spaces about how we can support–and better support–our students and community members. While this is not meant to be definitive or close down discussions about future initiatives and improvements, I do want to flag current counselling resources on campus and in Waterloo and urge those in need to access them, and/or encourage others to access them. These resources are from the UW Counselling webpage.


 UW Counselling Services 519-888-4567, x32655
Crisis Clinic Grand River Hospital 519-742-3611
Good2Talk 1-866-925-5454 or 211
Health Services 519-888-4096
Here 24/7 1-844-437-3247
Kitchener-Waterloo Distress Line 519-745-1166
Kitchener-Waterloo Sexual Assault

Support Centre (24/7)

Mental Health 519-888-4567, x31976
Telecare Distress Line Cambridge 519-658-5455
Mobile Crisis Team (24/7) 519-744-1813
University of Waterloo Police (24/7) 519-888-4911
Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence  519-749-6994

Other UWaterloo Resources:

MATES (Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support) is a counselling-based, one-to-one peer support program offered by the Federation of Students (FEDs) and UW Counselling Services. MATES provides services to students who are experiencing social difficulties, mental health challenges, and transitional challenges adapting to university life or different cultures. Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 4:30pm  Located in Counselling Services at Needles Hall (New Expansion – 2nd Floor).

On campus? Call ext 22222
Contact Campus Police for emergency services on campus also at Ext. 84911  OR (519) 888-4911
Away from campus? Call 911

In crisis?
Feel unsafe?
Worried you might hurt yourself or others?

  • Contact someone you trust
  • Go to the nearest hospital or safe place
  • Call a local help line
  • Contact us during regular University of Waterloo hours at Counseling Services, Mental Health, or Health Services, and we’ll try to find local supports to help you
  • See the list of Waterloo Region emergency contacts below
  • If you are out of the country we will do our best to accommodate your communication needs and appointment time requirements. Teleconference, phone etc can be accommodated as necessary.
  • Let us know how we can help