English & Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University
Professor of English with specializations in 18th century British novels by women, Asian North American literature. Interest in life writing and digital media; Gabaldon's Outlander and other historical romances.
On Friday March 22 a sizeable crowd gathered in the Robert Langen Art Gallery in the Waterloo campus library to celebrate the publication of eight books—both academic and creative works—by seven of our faculty members: Sandra Annett’s Anime Fan Communities: Transcultural Flows and Frictions (Palgrave MacMillan 2014); Jing Jing Chang’s Screening Communities: Negotiating Narratives of Empire, Nation, and the Cold War in Hong Kong Cinema (Hong Kong UP 2019); Maria DiCenzo’s Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1918-1939, co-edited with Catherine Clay, Barbara Green, and Fiona Hackney (Edinburgh UP 2018); Philippa Gates’s Criminalization/Assimilation: Chinese/Americans and Chinatowns in Classical Hollywood Film (Rutgers UP 2019); Russell Kilbourn’s W. G. Sebald’s Postsecular Redemption: Catastrophe With Spectator (Northwestern UP 2018); Tanis MacDonald’s GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos for Our Times, co-edited with Rosanna Deerchild and Ariel Gordon (Frontenac House 2018) and Out of Line: Daring to Be an Artist Outside the Big City (Wolsak and Wynn 2018); Mariam Pirbhai’s Outside People and Other Stories (Innana Publications 2017).
Wine, beer and assorted snacks fueled the socializing and catching up among EN/FS faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as a number of alumni. The presence of Dean of Arts Richard Nemesvari and University Librarian Gohar Ashoughian contributed to the boisterous mingling. Department chair Tamas Dobozy stepped into his role as MC to introduce each author, each of whom took five minutes to talk about or read from her/his book. The first five authors—Sandy Annett, Jing Jing Chang, Maria DiCenzo, Philippa Gates, and Russell Kilbourn—spoke to their books, all monographs or collections of literary or film criticism, representing the diverse range of scholarship undertaken by our faculty. This section of the event culminated in Tanis MacDonald and Mariam Pirbhai reading from their works of creative non-fiction and fiction, respectively. Both are award-winning authors a well as top-tier academics. In the end the ‘Celebration of Authors’ event amply demonstrated our department’s ongoing commitment to cutting-edge and highly regarded academic scholarship, alongside its emergent investment in creative writing as a significant new dimension of our program offerings.
The Organizers wish to thank the following for their sponsorship of this highly enjoyable event: The Department of English and Film Studies; The Office of the Dean of Arts; The Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association; Laurier Bookstore, with a special thanks to Drs. Russell Kilbourn and Philippa Gates for contributing their time to helping organize, fund and advertise the event.
Criminalization/Assimilation (March 2019) by Philippa Gates traces how Classical Hollywood films constructed America’s image of Chinese Americans from their criminalization as unwanted immigrants to their eventual acceptance when assimilated citizens, exploiting both America’s yellow peril fears about Chinese immigration and its fascination with Chinatowns. Philippa Gates examines Hollywood’s responses to social issues in Chinatown communities, primarily immigration, racism, drug trafficking, and prostitution, as well as the impact of industry factors including the Production Code and star system on the treatment of those subjects. Looking at over 200 films, Gates reveals the variety of racial representations within American film in the first half of the twentieth century and brings to light not only lost and forgotten films but also the contributions of Asian American actors whose presence onscreen offered important alternatives to Hollywood’s yellowface fabrications of Chinese identity and a resistance to Hollywood’s Orientalist narratives.
“Philippa Gates takes us on an engrossing journey through the Chinatown streets of Hollywood’s imagination in her comprehensive study of the ambivalent depiction of Chinese people and places on American screens. Her superlative book provides essential reading for scholars, students, and concerned readers who need to understand this history fully to critique the images and ideas that continue to shape today’s cultural landscape.”
–Gina Marchetti, author of Citing China: Politics, Postmodernism, and World Cinema
“Meticulously researched and laudably comprehensive, Criminalization/Assimilationexplores Chinatown’s place in the lexicon of early Hollywood films. This is a unique and important contribution to film studies and Asian American studies—a highly satisfying read!”
–Karla Rae Fuller, author of Hollywood Goes Oriental: CaucAsian Performance in American Film
On February 1, the Department of English and Film Studies held our second annual English Undergraduate Symposium. Following on the heels of last year’s highly-successful event, this year’s symposium, entitled “Words in the World,” organized by Maria DiCenzo and Jenny Kerber, took on the challenge of addressing the many ways in which our discipline intervenes in larger social, political and cultural issues. Our partner in this effort, the English Students’ Society, was instrumental in obtaining matching funding for the event via the Arts Undergraduate Society Grant, making for an ideal partnership between students and faculty, both of which participated in the actual panels of the symposium as well. The attendance and participation from Laurier Brantford English students and faculty further brought together the various strands of English teaching and learning across Laurier’s multiple campuses.
The panels were a mix of creative writing and scholarship, exploring (in order) careers in English, life writing and digital media, pop culture and gender and sexuality, literature and sports, creative writing, and current contentious issues.
The symposium was rounded out by this year’s Edna Staebler Writer in Residence, Gary Barwin, who spoke to us over lunch about the strands of influence and technique and collaborations involved in his creative work.
Last but not least, we had the awarding of the Chris Heard Memorial Prize in creative writing to Yelibert Cruz Roo, for her short story, “This Kingdom has No Heroes,” about barriers to immigration and their effects on families and communities.
As a whole, the symposium reflected the many intersections between the scholarly and the creative, from found poems taken from interviews with famous sports figures, to works around life writing and personal expression on social media, to the importance of research in crafting historical narratives, to the ways in which skills attained in the classroom can foster careers in areas as wide-ranging as publishing, advertising and the insurance. The symposium demonstrated the many ways in which the study of English enables flexible and adaptive approaches to real-world issues.
All of the panels were followed by lively question and answer sessions in which students and visitors discussed the many ways in which our discipline engages the “literary” in its widest possible context.
Here’s to hoping for a repeat of this successful event next year.
By: Tamas Dobozy, Chair of English and Film Studies
Four delightful writers treated a small, but engaged audience to a marvellous evening of poetry and fiction at the Robert Langen Art Gallery on November 14, 2018. The event was part of the Balderdash Reading Series organized by PhD candidate, Sanchari Sur.
Pamela Mulloy, the editor of The New Quarterly,read from her new novel, The Deserters. The novel is about the intriguing encounter between Eugenie, a woman trying to run a farm in New Brunswick while her partner is away, and a stranger, whom she has hired to help on the farm. The man, an American soldier, has crossed the border from the U.S. to escape going back to Iraq and has nightmares about his wartime experiences.
David Alexander, who graduated from Laurier’s English program in the mid 2000s, read from After the Hatching Ovenand Modern Warfare, a chapbook. David has a slight obsession with chickens, and some of the poems he shared included a Blazon describing the body of a rooster, and a found poem made of lines from movies that include the word “chicken.” The word chicken occurs surprisingly often in films.
Sarah YiMei Tsiang, a poet and children’s picture book writer, is the author of A Flock of Shoes, Sweet Devilry, and has edited Desperately Seeking Susans. She read from her published and unpublished poetry, expressing her love and her concerns about her daughter. In the poem “Two” where her daughter is two years old, Tsiang recalls that they “dance like lovers.” But by the time the daughter is twelve, in a poem called “Twelve,” Tsiang is teaching her how to defend herself.
Carrianne Leung, fiction writer and educator, read from her new collection of linked short stories,That Time I Loved You, which was a finalist of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2018. Leung read a story told from the perspective of twelve-year old June who believes she was in love with a boy in her suburb in Scarborough. Secrets, desires, and wishes, which are understated, reveal themselves in seething and unexpected forms for this observant adolescent.
An entertaining evening… some questions answered, many insights shared, and much to reflect on.
Congratulations to Sarah Rangaratnam, awarded Doctor of Philosophy in English and Film Studies.
Dissertation: Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1740-1800.
Advisor: Eleanor Ty
Congratulations, Roxanne Hearn, awarded MA in English.
Roxanne is continuing her studies, starting her first year PhD at Laurier.
Congratulations, Rachel Schryver, awarded MA in English. Rachel received the Award for Outstanding Graduate Work at convocation.
She is currently employed at Laurier’s Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing office where she did her Practicum in the spring.
Congratulations, Dawn Matthew, awarded MA in English.
Dawn works at Laurier Library in Interlibrary and User Services.