My 8 Month MA at Laurier: Amanda Spallaci

Spallacci collage

For me, the Department of English and Film Studies was the ideal program to obtain a Masters Degree. Upon entering the MA program, I was immediately embraced by the PhD students who were incredibly helpful, willing to discuss classes and research, and assist with my move to Waterloo. A Masters degree is incredibly rigorous, and on account of the demanding workload, often times students tend to isolate themselves. Yet, in this department, the PhD students created a sense of community for the MA students; they planned social events, and maintained a constant outlet for kind and compassionate communication. I received astounding support and genuine care from the students in the Department, and formed friendships that I know are long lasting.

Throughout all of my education, I have yet to encounter an entire faculty who are as innovative, brilliant, and caring as the professors who constitute the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier. This Department possesses the finest and most skilled researchers in Canada. Even with their demanding schedules, each professor assisted me with developing my own research, determine my future plans, and even offer personal guidance. These professors are truly exemplary and display a genuine amount of empathy and care for the graduate school experience.

During the school year, I presented papers at two conferences. For the Southwest Pacific Popular Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February 2016, I read my paper, “Resistance and Healing: The Representation of Sexual Violence in Personal Testimony.” In March 2016, I presented “The Construction of Transgender Identities in Popular Culture” for the Northeastern Modern Language Association Conference in Hartford, Connecticut.

In addition, IABA SNS [Life Writing Graduate Student and New Scholar Network] published my paper, “Lena Dunham and Sexual Violence: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’: About Rape” in November 2015. I was also involved in community activism and sat on the Gender Violence Task Force at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Next year, I will begin my doctoral work at University of Alberta. My proposed research project focuses predominantly on personal narratives of sexual violence in autobiographical texts and visual media in North American culture. Personal testimony illuminates systemic injustices, violence against women, and helps us cultivate a better understanding of memory and trauma. This interdisciplinary study is crucial as it explores the intersections of gender, memory, trauma, affect, text and film. I argue that autobiographical texts and films offer a nuanced approach to the study/issue of sexual violence, addressing the sizable injustice inflicted both socially and legally on rape survivors, and how these narratives function as a form of resistance against cultural oppression.

Graduation is bitter sweet; I am excited to complete my degree, but am sad to leave such a warm environment. I will always look back at my Masters Degree in the Department of English and Film Studies, and recall the countless pleasant memories with sincere fondness.

By: Amanda Spallacci  (MA 2016)

 

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Michael Daly Wins Eric Hoffer Award

Laurier English grad (2006) Michael Daly’s first book, The Havana Papers has won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for best non-fiction ebook. The Eric Hoffer Award honors freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. The “Hoffer” honors books from small, academic, and micro presses, including self-published offering and the grand prize is $2,000.

In addition to the Hoffer award, Daly’s book also won the First Horizon Award, a prize given to the best first-time authors. Michael Daly works as the Quality Assurance Coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University. He provides support for departments undergoing cyclical reviews and developing new programs, as well as administrating Laurier classroom management processes. Outside of work, Michael Daly is a partner in a production company that writes and records original radio plays for a modern audience.

About The Havana Papers:

With a 1958 portable typewriter in his suitcase, the writer wanders Havana’s crumbling back alleys, bullet-sprayed museums, and grand hotels where the relics of the Revolution and the ghost of Hemingway still speak loudly. 


Whether getting grifted while watching a dubiously-billed piano player from the Buena Vista Social Club, dodging grifters and conmen, or wandering amongst over a million marble graves, The Havana Papers offers a rare glimpse into old Havana—a UNESCO World Heritage site—in the 21st Century. 

When his typewriter breaks in transit, the writer is forced to reconsider his writing holiday and put his novel on hold, until a new story emerges from the vibrance and history in the Old City—Habana Vieja. 

Travel beyond the postcard pictures and vibrant colours of the tourist facade, and into a world forgotten by time’s advance, frozen in a fifties’ imagination, and aching under the strain of modernity. The Havana Papers reveals a complex, contemporary portrait of one of the world’s great historic cities.

The Havana Papers is available for your favourite eReader wherever fine eBooks are sold.

Rebekah Ludolph wins Emerging Scholar Award at Congress 2016

Laurier English and Film Studies doctoral student Rebekah Ludolph was awarded the Barbara Godard Prize for the Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar at a ceremony during the 2016 Congress for the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Calgary on Saturday, May 28. Le Prix Barbara-Godard de la meilleure communication par un jeune chercheur is awarded annually by the bilingual Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures/Association pour Littératures du Canada et Quebec (ACQL/ALCQ) as an acknowledgement of the ongoing legacy of York University’s Canadian literature scholar Barbara Godard, who was a mentor to many students and a leader in the scholarly community. Godard’s own interests in feminist theory, autobiography, and Indigenous women’s writing make the awarding of this prize to Rebekah’s paper of Mohawk author and environmental activist Anahareo especially appropriate and poignant. The award was presented to Rebekah by Dr. Sara Jamieson, President of ACQL/ALCQ and Associate Professor at Carleton University.

Rebekah delivered her paper, titled “Humour, Intersubjectivity, and Indigenous female identity in Anahareo’s Devil in Deerskins” in a special session on Indigeneity, Redemption, Agency on Sunday, May 29 at the University of Calgary. The award-winning paper began as a final essay in EN609: Canadian Women’s Literature offered in Fall 2015 in the Department of English and Film Studies, and Laurier faculty and students saw a preview of the paper when Rebekah delivered it as part of Showcase, the English and Film Studies Graduate Student colloquium, held at Laurier on March 30th.

After receiving the Godard Prize, which includes the opportunity for the paper to be published in the leading scholarly journal Canadian Literature, Rebekah commented: “I am very grateful for this encouragement at the beginning of my PhD journey. My paper would not have taken its current shape without the support of our English department, especially Dr. MacDonald, Dr. Kerber, fellow PhD student Heather Olaveson, my classmates in EN609, and the 2016 EN/FS Department Colloquium.” Supported by a SSHRC doctoral fellowship, Rebekah is studying alternative subjectivities and multicultural texts in Canadian literature. Rebekah Ludolph and Sara Jamieson, Godard Prize 2016

Dr. Sara Jamieson presents Rebekah Ludolph with the Barbara Godard Prize for Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar in Calgary on May 28, 2016.

 

My Practicum Experience for the MA in English

Caitlin Szikora

Caitlin Szikora ’16

Upon completion of my BA, I became interested in Laurier’s English MA, a program that fuses English and Film Studies for an in-depth look into nation, gender, and media. I majored in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto for my BA, and minored in both English and History. When I found out that there was an MA program that essentially combined these fields into one coherent year of study, I knew it was the right program for me. The courses offered included a practicum option, which offered a course credit in exchange for a six-week practical placement at the end of the program.

To me, this was the perfect opportunity to see how the skills developed in my MA program would benefit me in a workplace setting. I have always been interested in careers working with film production and writing, but my knowledge up until the beginning of my placement had been theoretical. As much as I love analysis and academia, I was eager to try and learn more hands-on production skills.

For six weeks in the spring, I worked for Laurier International primarily on producing a series of videos about safety for international students along with another student coworker and one of Laurier’s special constables. As a result, I was able to learn skills in a wide range of areas. I helped to write the content and scripts for the videos, using the writing skills gained throughout the MA English program as well as learning about how to write in new formats. I also was involved in producing the videos, and learned about cameras and cinematography to a great extent as well.

As this project was relatively large in scale, my coworker and I decided to set up a volunteer team that would be able to work together as a production crew. Much of my time at Laurier International became devoted to the organization of this group, and we were able to build a team of around fifteen students – the majority of whom were either international students or film studies students – who had indicated an interest in learning about media technology and in helping future international students be informed. We met several times a week for meetings, during which we would plan our videos by writing and storyboarding together along with having in-house lessons on cameras and how to use the video equipment. We also met weekly for production days, on which we would shoot our videos. We were able to work in a variety of spaces around campus and produce collect a wide amount of footage on these days, giving students a chance to act in the scenes as well as to operate the equipment we had on set. As a result of the scale of the project, it is still ongoing. What started as a small group designed to focus on safety videos grew into a larger team that my coworkers and I hope will be able to continue making films for Laurier International for the rest of the summer and into the next academic year as well. We are currently thinking of coming up with a name for the team and turning it into a more permanent student club, in which students are able to take control of the video production process and to find new ways to tell their own stories based in international learning experiences. The establishment of this group was a large part of what I worked on during my time at Laurier International, and I have informed the group that I will be able to continue on as a volunteer when I am able! Organizing and facilitating meetings with this group allowed me to further my skills as a leader within a team-based environment.

Aside from the video project, I did several small writing-based tasks as well, including working on a conference program and going through Laurier International’s websites to look for information that needed to be updated. These smaller-scale tasks kept me busy on the days on which we were not working on our videos. Overall, I found my placement at Laurier International to be an extremely positive experience, in which I was able to learn many skills I had been interested in and gain plenty of experience in my field. I am very glad that the MA program offers the practicum option as it was a fantastic way for me to be able to experience first-hand what I am able to do as an English and Film Studies student in a workplace setting, as well as allowing me to consider my future.