Serious Work in Amsterdam

Russ Anders

Submitted by Russ Kilbourn

PhD candidate Anders Bergstrom, Professor Christine Daigle (Brock Philosophy/ Interdisciplinary Studies), and Professor Russell Kilbourn presented papers in a panel, “What Comes After Affect?—The ‘Non-Human Turn’ and the New Master Narrative(s)” at the Narrative Studies Conference in Amsterdam, June 16-18, 2016.

The papers emerged in response to the general question: what comes after affect, when ‘post-affective’ culture signifies not the end of affect but its total dissemination? The degree and status of affect at the level of uncritical consumption, and for everyday life, is markedly different from its value for contemporary critical theory, showing how historically out-of-step the latter is with the ways in which real people actually experience things affectively, before the disruptive interposition of ideology, reason, consciousness, higher brain functions–those features of conscious or unconscious human experience that have heretofore defined the human in contradistinction to that which is non- or other-than-human. From the positing of a set of philosophical parameters for a new theory of post-affective, ‘posthuman’, subjectivity, the panel moved to a pair of theory-based readings of specific filmic examples.

The conference was held at the University of Amsterdam in the historic city centre, within walking distance of the major tourist sites, as well as a great many of Amsterdam’s famous ‘coffee shops’. (On at least one occasion we had the opportunity to discover that these shops do in fact sell coffee.) A comparatively large international event, the conference included no less than 109 panels involving approximately 380 presenters over three days, with three keynote speakers—Espen Aarseth, IT University of Copenhagen (“Fifty Shades of Play: Making Sense of the Game-Story Landscape”), Clare Hemmings, The London School of Economics (“Feminist Articulations: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality in a New Feminist Landscape”), and Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham (“The Cohesion and Expansion of Fictional Worlds”)—each of whom spoke on a cutting edge topic in narrative theory. In addition, six ‘Contemporary Narrative Theory Speakers’ led roundtable discussions on specific topics.

amsterdam

Conference participants agreed that organizers Tara MacDonald and Daniel Hassler-Forrest did an exemplary job planning the event—especially in terms of the social dimension. In addition to the closing night dance party, pictured here, the conference kicked off with an opening reception at the new EYE film museum, a short ferry ride across the harbor from the central station. In the end we were surprised to learn that narratologists really know how to have a good time, and that Amsterdam is still one of the best cities in the world.

A Different Path to Teaching

By : Carolyn Hough, BA Hons  EN 2016

        For as long as I’ve known myself (a pretty long time), I’ve known two things to be true: I love to read and I want to be a teacher. Both of these facts led me to Laurier, led me to the English department, and led me to Residence Life.

When I first arrived at Laurier I moved into a single room in Willison Hall, and had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into. My first university class ever was an upper year French class of 20 people, and is an experience I still consider to be one of the scariest of my life. In contrast, my first English class was “Reading Fiction,” and amid the 150 people in N1001, I felt right at home. We studied an extraordinarily wide range of literature, from Pride and Prejudice, a longtime favourite, to graphic novels in the form of Maus. I loved every second of it.

Through the encouragement of my own Residence Life Don, I applied to be a part of the First Year Leadership Program in Willison, House Council, and spent the eight months of my first year being happily pulled out of my comfort zone. I fell in love with Residence and the friendships it had given me, and with my naive first year eyes, applied to be a Don. Again, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

Hough Willison         My three years of being a Don were nothing short of an adventure. Over the years, I had the privilege of being a Don to over 80 students, an advisor to about 40, a coach to around 60, and a presence to approximately 400. And while I originally thought that guiding and leading students was simple and clear, black and white, I quickly discovered that growth is a relative term, that everything is a teachable moment, and that learning does not stop when you step outside of a classroom.

I discovered that there was more than one way to be a teacher. I could take the traditional route, the expected route, and graduate with a degree of teachable subjects, ready to take on teacher’s college, then battle an ever growing list of qualified teachers for a classroom of my own. Or, I could take a look outside the four walls of a lecture hall, the pages of a textbook, and see the way that a fresh start, a friendship, a guiding hand, and an opportunity to be unashamedly yourself, screw ups and all, could teach someone so much more than a math equation, or iambic pentameter, or the strategies that make a business successful, ever could. I was able to witness, over eight months, hundreds of fresh faced high school graduates stumble their way through first year and come out the other side with purpose, enthusiasm, and a stronger sense of self. Sometimes those eight months were full of teachable moments, and sometimes the experience itself was enough of a teacher.

I am by no means exempt from the learning influence that Residence enacts on people. I entered donning a fresh faced first year student and over the next three years I learned more than I ever cared to know about team dynamics and work ethic. I learned how to survive on very little sleep and that when I had the opportunity to sleep, earplugs were a necessity. My time as a Don honed my multitasking and time management skills as I dealt with first years who were away from home for the first time (and all the things that brings) while reading at least a Shakespeare play a week. I learned that I work best when things are on the verge of chaos, and that every time I thought I couldn’t possibly do more, I surprised myself. I learned that the best friendships are formed at 3:00am when you’re collectively facing down the chaos that is Halloween or Homecoming or even just a Friday night. I learned that chocolate, a comfy couch, and an open door brings people together more than you could possibly imagine. I learned the advantage of giving a single warning, of remembering people’s names, of regarding even the most infuriating students with unconditional positive regard. I learned how to learn from those around me, first years, or colleagues, or supervisors. And I learned how to turn life in Residence into a teaching moment.

When it came time for me to graduate, I wasn’t quite ready to give up this more holistic and life-centered way of teaching. Before I even got my degree in June, I was offered a job with Campus Living Centres at Seneca Newnham in Toronto as a Residence Life Coordinator. Having read, absorbed, and analyzed texts as difficult as Beowulf and Ulysses, I am well-prepared for learning the complexities of a new institution. And while a lot of things about my life have changed, the same two things about me are true: I love to read, and I am a teacher.

 

Hough hugs

MA Practicum at a Literary Journal

Marin Flavia

By: Flavia Marin (2016)

When I started working toward my Master’s Degree at Laurier, I was at a loss regarding what I would do afterward. But I also knew that my experience in the program would help guide me into the direction in which I should go. I did not expect that when I opted to participate in the practicum option in the Spring term, however, that the position for which I would be accepted would be so perfect. I had the opportunity to work at The New Quarterly (a literary magazine which has been publishing the work of up and coming Canadian authors for 35 years).

During my placement at The New Quarterly, I was able to acquire quite the range of skills and information. I have learned about e-mail communication outside of a university setting (something I had not yet encountered in the working world). During the placement, I was the first point of contact for both subscribers to The New Quarterly, as well as writers who were submitting work, checking on the status of their work, as well as those writes whom we had already agreed to publish.

I accepted and processed regular entries to the magazine, as well as special calls for submissions, and contest entries (all of which were processed and sorted differently). I also helped some writers process their payments for contest entries, and answered a range of questions regarding all types of submissions.

I also formatted all of the contest submissions coming in, and recorded them onto an Excel sheets. I was also responsible for labeling each entry so that it can be connected to the writer’s name, as there could be no names on the submissions (because the authors are to remain anonymous to the judges, during the judging process). I was also responsible for zipping submission files into bundles of 10, and sending them to the appropriate editors (fiction, poetry, and non-fiction).

Another skill that I acquired was how to navigate and properly employ numerous databases, as well as how to use and fill out charts. Some charts contained author information, while for others I had to calculate subscription renewal ratios (for example). I also used one of the databases to find subscribers whose subscriptions were on the verge of expiring, and used that information to print out renewal letters, or create emails for subscription renewals.

Before my placement, I was already well-versed in the use of social media, but I had never had to use social media platforms for a company before. I greatly enjoyed this aspect of the placement, as I got to put out a lot of the promotions for events and contests. I was also given the opportunity to take photos for these promotions, and post them up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And on that note, I had also proposed that The New Quarterly open accounts on Goodreads and Tumblr also, and then was put in charge of making that happen. I especially enjoyed creating the Tumblr layout for The New Quarterly, and then maintaining that account. I have also done a lot of work on improving The New Quarterly’s presence on Instagram.

What I was the most excited about learning and experiencing at this placement, however, was participation in the editorial committee for the most recent batch of submissions. I was given the opportunity to be a part of the fiction editorial committee, which was like a dream come true to me. I want to become a fiction editor, and I believe that this was the most valuable experience for me, at this placement, as I was able to be a part of the editing process. I was also invited to be a part of the meeting, where we selected the pieces of short fiction which we would publish within the issue which is coming out in the Fall.

The supervisor also asked that I proofread one of the submissions for the issue which is to come out this summer. I felt incredibly happy that she trusted me enough to catch any mistakes in a piece of work which she has already read, and which will be published. I was able to see her notes, as well as the notes of the author, as they had gone through the editorial process. Overall, this was an invaluable learning experience.

 

 

EN370: Poetry writing course ready for Fall 2016

EN 370 poster

I know it’s summer, and I also know that summer goes fast. If you are reading this, you know that it’s never too early to starting thinking about fall courses. I know that I am, and I hope you’ve seen my posters advertising EN370: Creative Writing:poetry, now part of our new Minor in Writing for Career and Community, and of course, a course that was offered for many years by Ed Jewinski, and by me since 2015.

Students often say to me that poetry isn’t their main genre, that they think of themselves more as fiction writers. That’s excellent, and that’s a good reason to take EN370, so your fiction writing can be enhanced by your exploration of poetry. Remember that there are plenty of good writers who work in both genres and say that writing poetry contributes to their prose practice: Raymond Carver, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, and Anne Carson, to name only a few.

Entrance to the course is by portfolio only. If you are a student interested in the course, or if you know a student who’d be interested, poetry portfolios (6-8 pages of poetry in Word or PDF) are due to me at tmacdonald@wlu.ca as soon as possible.

Follow the link below to the cool video advertising the course on the department’s Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/355694141158120/