Dr. Warley’s book shortlisted

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Last year, UWaterloo English’s Dr. Winfried Siemerling received the Gabrielle Roy Prize for studies in Canadian and Quebec literatures for his book The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History, and the Presence of the Past. This year English’s Dr. Linda Warley‘s co-edited collection Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives has been shortlisted for the same prize! Better yet, it includes chapters by not one but three UWaterloo English alumni. The jury writes:

The individual essays work to articulate the significance of the visual medium for the representation of the vulnerable self in Canadian graphic autobiographies, and range in subject from Seth and Chester Brown, to Sara Leavitt’s heartbreaking narrative about her mother’s death, to Julie Doucet’s early feminist autobiography, My New York Diary. The collection as a whole tells the story of how this important and comparatively new genre evolved in Canada, introducing historically important publications and publishing houses as well as individual cartoonists. The book design is attractive and spacious, and the accompanying illustrations beautifully produced. Canadian Graphic is both a stimulating read and an important scholarly achievement.
Congratulations to Dr. Warley and her co-editor, Candida Rifkind!

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.

From Science to English: Alumnus Hoi Cheu

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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.

Non-Academic Career Conference

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Register now
for a full day conference designed to better prepare PhD students and postdocs for careers outside of academia. Hosted by GRADventure in partnership with the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Career Action, this conference will feature interactive workshops, a panel of PhDs/PhD candidates who have followed non-linear career paths, as well as a keynote speaker, Adam Ruben: writer, comedian and molecular biologist. Please note: This is an all-day event. Registrants must plan to attend every session. Lunch is provided. More information, as well as a list of workshops and speakers, is available online.

Keynote by Adam Ruben requires a separate RSVP.

Image credit: Toronto’s CountryCraft53

 

 

Photos: English Student Society Symposium

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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.

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Bring your high school students!

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Every so often I get asked if I can host a few high school students–or even a whole class–in one of my English classes. It can be a lot of fun–if you can fit everyone in the room! I’ve had the pleasure of hosting a group of students from St. Benedict C.S.S. in Cambridge in the past; this year they visited classes taught by Jay Dolmage and Victoria Lamont. Their teacher, Denise Wittmann, composed a report for the school newspaper, and has graciously allowed us to reprint it.

Enriched English Class goes on their Annual Trip to the University of Waterloo
By Mrs. D. Wittmann

Tuesday, March 7th, the Grade 10 Enriched English Class went on their annual trip to the University of Waterloo. The day began with a Campus Tour, and despite the inclement weather, we sojourned on.

After the tour we joined a second-year Academic Writing Course with Professor Jay Dolmage. Here, the students were put in groups and received revision and editing tips from the students to improve their own essays – which the Grade 10 students had brought with them. After lunch, the class sat in on a “Literature and Pop Culture” lecture with Professor Victoria Lamont. The day’s subject was visual rhetoric. Students saw examples from numerous television programs and how they are constructed.