Tag Archives: reading

The English department reads!

What a silly thing to say–the English department reads. Of course we read; it’s what we do for a living.

In the title of this post I was riffing off the popular CBC radio contest “Canada Reads” where Canadian celebrities (that seems like such an oxymoron) suggest a book that they think all Canadians should read and then argue for their pick over a series of weeks. Each week sees one book–Survivor-like–get voted off the table. The books on Canada Reads don’t have to be Canadian, but they often are.

 Recently a reader requested that I post a list of great Canadian books. Thank you for the suggestion! So I polled my colleagues and here is what we came up with collectively. In no particular order and a nice mix of genres, including novels, plays, poetry, and life writing, and sometimes works that blend genres:

Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women
Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye & The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Laurence, The Diviners
Mordecai Richler, Solomon Gursky Was Here & Barney’s Version
Joy Kogawa, Obasan
Douglas Coupland, Generation X
Austin Clarke, A Bigger Light
Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion & Running in the Family
Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Englishman’s Boy
Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes
Wayne Johnston, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
George Elliott Clarke, Whylah Falls & Trudeau
Daphne Marlatt, Steveston
Fred Wah, Diamond Grill
James Reaney, The Donnelly Trilogy
Judith Thompson, Lion in the Streets
Stan Rogers, Songs From Fogarty’s Cove

A new term, a new departmental blog

Welcome to the new blog written by the department of English Language & Literature. Of course, it is not written by the department, but by me, Linda Warley, associate professor, teacher of Canadian literature, researcher of all things having to do with life writing, student of aboriginal literatures in Canada, immigrant to Canada from England; ‘mother’ to my cat Shirley; and newly appointed “Alumni co-ordinator.” This blog is for everyone: students, faculty, staff, members of the university community. Of course, it is public, but it is also about us, the English department in all of our many guises and iterations.

If you are an alumnus, please know that the English department wants to stay in touch with you, and I’m hoping this blog will become part of your routine reading. Because you are still reading, right? Aren’t we English types the perpetual, obsessive, compulsive (oops! that makes it sound like a disorder) thoroughly committed-for-life readers? Weren’t we the kids in our rooms on summer days with a book in our hands? These days we might be reading from e-readers or iPads or laptops, but I bet we’re also still reading in print. And reading a lot in all media.

And we are writing, too. Whether or not we have to write for our jobs–do you write for a living? is writing a big part of you job?–we are word people. We process words. We live words. We are words. And it’s important that words are in the right places and that our meanings are clear. We’re good at that.

I love blogging. I began writing a blog only very recently when I was away for a term, teaching as a visiting professor at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. If you are interested, please check out Lady Professor in the Balkans.. Now I’m writing another blog that is more focused on my research. Lady English Professor  has a new home.  You are welcome to join me in that virtual place as well.

Here at Words in Place I’m writing from the perspective of home. My work place; your former (or present?) place of study. I suspect you might also think of the department of English as some sort of home. We certainly hope so. The learning environment is such a comfortable place for most of us, and our degrees connect us to particular enclaves within the larger space that is the University of Waterloo. I think of the department of English as the mother ship; the place from which you launched into the world as more mature, better educated citizens. But like all mother ships, this one wants to keep you close even while we proudly watch you move out into the larger world.

So, please bookmark this blog. Check it out whenever you have some time. Pass it along to your friends who might also be UW English alumni. Comment if you feel like it. Email me with requests for specific stories. I’ll try to post something every week. And guest posts are also most welcome.

The new term is about to begin. It’s busy in the department these days. The printers are spilling out syllabi; the photocopiers are spewing paper; the campus is a buzz with orientation activities; professors are checking out the bookstore and their classrooms. Students are sharpening their pencils. Well, metaphorically, anyway. Happy Fall 2011!