The final installment of this winter’s Tracking Shots 3 Aboriginal Film Series was a screening of The Pass System (2015) on March 23rd. Toronto-based filmmaker Alex Williams was on hand to introduce and discuss his documentary, which draws on archival research and interviews with academics and elders to illuminate the history of Canada’s enforced (and illegal) segregation of Indigenous peoples on reserves, especially in the years following the Northwest Resistance of 1885. The system required First Nations people to obtain a pass from the local Indian Agent to leave the reserve for any reason, and although it was introduced as a ‘temporary security measure’ it persisted for decades. Stories about this system’s implementation and effects deserve to be more widely known, and we were fortunate to have Alex and local elder Elaine Endanawas on hand to share their insights. The film generated a thoughtful discussion among attendees about how to reckon with this history of restricted mobility and its implications for reconciliation. This year, the series presented a total of eight films ranging from shorts to full-length features. Thanks to all who came out to see these new works and share in the conversation!
Congratulations to all the students in English and Film Studies who have won departmental awards and scholarships this year! The list of award recipients is as follows:
Campbell/Verduyn Prize for Film: Grace Jansen In De Wal
Jim Clark Prize for Drama: Brittany Lazar
Chris Heard Memorial Writing Prize: Danielle LeDuc
Pauline Carole Leavine Scholarship in English: Caroline Weiner, Erin McHarge
Hugh MacLachlan Scholarship: Lindsay Meaning
Barbara Parker Memorial Scholarship: Danielle LeDuc, Denise Springett
Princess Cinema Award: Amanda Mckelvey
Flora Roy Scholarships: Erin McHarge, Aaron Rupert, Carina Rampelt
Paul Tiessen Scholarship in Film: Emily Sider
Weldon and Misser Prize in Poetry: Sarah Best
On Thursday, March 16th, Laurier’s current Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence Ashley Little and the English Students’ Association co-hosted Taking Flight: A Celebration of Creative Writing. Ashley kicked off the evening by reading one of her newest stories titled “Plaza,” followed by readings from the finalists and winners of the ESA’s Second Annual Creative Writing Contest. The contest received many excellent submissions, and all of the runners-up and winners of the contest were on hand to share their work. In the poetry category, the Runners-up were Kyleen McGragh of the Brantford Campus and Jenna Hazard of the Waterloo campus, while Maria Kouznetsova from Waterloo won for her musically-inflected journey through local surroundings titled “Six Impressions of the Walk to Hepcat Swing.”
In the prose category, the Runners-up were Hastings Gresser from the Brantford campus and Jenna Hazard from Waterloo, while second-year English student Sarah Ali (Waterloo) took top honours for her highly inventive transnational piece, “Culling Campaign.”
Following a short intermission, refreshments, and a generous door prize draw sponsored by the ESA, the mic was opened up for other readers, and the audience was treated to a diverse array of creative work by students ranging from first year through to senior levels. Thanks to all who came out to celebrate our campus literary talent!
On March 10, 2017, Victoria Kennedy successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, Narrative Pleasures and Feminist Politics: Popular Women’s Historical Fiction, 1990-2015. Diana Wallace, the eminent scholar of women’s historical fiction from the University of South Wales, Uk was the external examiner and participated via SKYPE.
Her study contributes to a developing body of work on women’s historical fiction and its significance to feminist discourse. Since historical fiction is one of the most popular genres of the contemporary period, Victoria’s dissertation brings together the discourses of feminist pop culture criticism and theories of feminist historiography to address the tensions between narrative pleasures and feminist politics in some of the most recognizable women’s historical novels of the past twenty-five years, including The Other Boleyn Girl, Outlander, A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Scarlett.
Victoria Kennedy with Diana Gabaldon
Looking back now, I can see that I was drawn to feminism from an early age, though it was not a label that was particularly encouraged or promoted in my youth. It wasn’t until I became a university student that I acquired the vocabulary and confidence to describe my interests and political sensibilities as “feminist.” In my second year as an undergraduate, I discovered women’s writing and feminist literary criticism. This discovery so energized me that I pursued my passion all the way to a Master’s degree at York University, and then back to Laurier as a doctoral student.
Victoria’s PhD was supervised by Dr. Andrea Austin, with the assistance of Dr. Eleanor Ty and Dr. Katherine Bell as committee members. Dr. Alexandra Boutros of the Cultural Studies department served as the internal-external examiner.
Victoria is currently working on expanding and revising her dissertation for publication as a monograph. At the same time, she is turning her focus to historical narratives in visual media. In May she will present a paper entitled “‘We Want the King’: The Crown and Masculinity” at the Popular Culture Association of Canada’s 7th annual conference in Niagara Falls.
Photo and contributions by Victoria Kennedy
Dr. Mariam Pirbhai taught her new graduate course, South Asian Canadian Literature, in Fall 2016, in which students were introduced to literary figures and social media artists, and their representations of significant events and issues pertaining to this diaspora, including the Komagata Maru incident of 1914 and the Air India tragedy of 1985. MA student Khadijah Plummer wrote a paper on Farzana Doctor’s recently published novel All-Inclusive, loosely based on the Air India tragedy, and the paper has received an honourable mention on the author’s blog! See link below!
MA students Khadjiah Plummer and Catherine Brunskill will be drawing on work produced for this graduate course, as guest speakers in Dr. Pirbhai’s undergraduate course, Multiculturalism and Literature, in which they have been invited to give presentations on second generation South Asian Canadian vloggers and social media artists, Humble the Poet and Maria Qamar.
Catherine Brunskill’s paper on Ondaatje’s Running in the Family and Badami’s Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? has also been accepted as a paper to be presented at CACLALS for Congress 2017.
Manreet Lachhar (Event organizer) and Daniella Cavallini (ESA President)
The English Student Association hosted their annual Meet the Profs night this winter term with an added twist.
Come one, come all to a celebration of creative writing in English and Film Studies! Writer-in-Residence Ashley Little will be on hand to read and speak with aspiring authors at Laurier. For more details, see the poster below.