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)