News from J. Coplen Rose (Phd 2016)

J. Coplen RoseI have been working as a 9.5-month Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Theatre at Acadia University. While this past semester has been one of the busiest in my life, it has also been one of the most rewarding. The faculty I work with are excellent and have made my transition to Wolfville seamless and comfortable. They have welcomed me into their community and been an invaluable resource in matters relating to pedagogy and research. This was particularly important over the past semester as I was teaching three new courses. As expected, each course offered its own unique challenges, thrills, and rewards.

My main purpose for coming to Acadia was to teach an upper-year postcolonial studies course on Settler Colony Literature from Australia and New Zealand. While the postcolonial component was something that directly related to my research, I found myself returning to the notes and articles from my Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination at Wilfrid Laurier University to help plan lectures related to New Zealand and Australian literature. This experience was a helpful reminder of the value of keeping detailed and organized research notes. Although the material from my exam formed the framework for my course, the texts I selected largely differed from my Ph.D. reading list. Developing a course syllabus that included a mix of poetry, film, short stories, and novels from Australia and New Zealand meant a broad spectrum of genres and perspectives could be discussed in the course. The texts that seemed to resonate most prominently with the students were Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, Doris Pilkington’s Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Taika Waititi’s film Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

The other two courses that I taught were introductory classes on academic reading and writing. Both were comprised of a diverse group of students – ranging from first to fourth year and originating from various departments at the university. The challenge teaching these courses revolved around maintaining student interest and appealing to a wide range of skill levels. Organizing these courses around a student-centred approach to education helped to keep everyone engaged with the material. Many of the course assignments involved collaboration, detailed classroom discussion, and in some cases peer review assessment. In an effort to lead by example, students in one of the courses even had an opportunity to critique an essay that I had written during my undergraduate degree. This helped to turn a session on basic essay writing strategies, which can occasionally come across as tedious, into a lively debate when students were asked to grade the paper. Helpfully, as a new instructor, this exercise allowed me to show a degree of vulnerability and illustrate to my learners that good academic writing is an ongoing learning process.

Aside from my teaching, I also managed to publish a short article titled “Acting Out of Discontent: Satire, Shakespeare, and South African Politics in Pieter-Dirk Uys’s MacBeki: A Farce to be Reckoned With and The Merry Wives of Zuma” in Shakespeare en devenir’s special edition on Shakespeare and Africa. This achievement, combined with my service as Arts Representative on the Ad Hoc Senate Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, has meant that I have had little time to explore the surrounding area over the past four months. I am looking forward to a reduced teaching load this coming semester and, with it, an opportunity to further connect with the wonderful colleagues and community around me. In particular, I am especially looking forward to meeting fellow  Laurier graduate Dr. Justin Shaw, an Assistant Professor at the Université Sainte-Anne, for what he promises will be a demanding winter hike along the coastal region at the bottom of the Annapolis Valley.

Submitted by:

Coplen Rose, ‘16

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Outside People By Mariam Pirbhai: Book Launch

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On November 2, 2017, Veritas Café was packed with faculty, students, and members of the community for the launch of Professor Mariam Pirbhai’s collection of short stories, Outside People and Other Stories, published by Inanna Publications in Toronto.

Two student writers opened the evening’s festivities. Jenna Hazzard, whose short story was recently a runner-up in Elle magazine’s national writing competition, read a humorous episode from the opening pages of her novella-in-progress, set in a library just after New Year’s Eve. Jenna’s reading  prompted one longtime library employee to say that she hit the mark with all her details. Kyleen McGragh performed two of her poems, “”Exhale” and “Parasite.” Both poems were recently published in FreeLit magazine, and Kyleen gave a riveting and bold recitation.

 

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Professor Pirbhai graciously thanked her colleagues, students, and especially, her Latin American friends for their support. Her stories, she noted, were about the invisible rather than the “visible” minorities in Canada. They are not just about immigrants, but about the domestic worker, temporary migrant labourers, those who are left behind and whose families are fractured because of globalization.

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She began by reading an excerpt from “Air Raids,” featuring a modern Muslim woman’s would-be sexual encounter with an airline steward during his stopover in Montreal. Set against the backdrop of a protest against a Quebec bill banning religious symbols, the story is rich with the voices of English, French, Pakistani, Jewish, and Arabic people.

Her second excerpt, “Chicken Catchers,” was based on the horrific car accident which killed ten migrant workers and the truck driver near Stratford in the winter of 2012. The victims were from Peru, five who had only recently arrived. Pirbhai’s story focuses on the inter-ethnic friendship between a Peruvian and a Jamaican worker, and may lead us to question Canadian habits of consuming chicken, particularly our preference for chicken breasts.

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She ended with a funny story, “Crossing Over,” about a woman from Mumbai’s consternation about having to perform inelegant and unfeminine manoeuvers in the family car in order to attend a dinner party in Halifax in winter.

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Outside People has been praised as a “stunning debut.”

Photos and Story by Eleanor Ty

Balderdash Reading Series, October 2017

 

The Balderdash Reading Series, organized by English and Film Studies PhD candidate, Sanchari Sur, held its second event for the fall at the Robert Langen Art Gallery on October 26, 2017.

Pasha Malla

Pasha Malla, Laurier’s Writer-in-Residence for fall, read an amusing extract from Fugue States in which the narrator describes an attempt at skiing with homemade skis and boots.  We are left hanging, wondering if the boots stayed on the intrepid skier.

Jagtar Kaur

Jagtar Kaur Atwal, from Cambridge, read an autobiographical poem about the difficulty of speaking in an alien tongue: “Writing has been like walking in knee-deep mud for my fear of rejection.”  She finds strength in another kind of voice, a silenced one.

Tanis

Tanis MacDonald read from a recent issue of Arc Magazine and poems yet unpublished.  She shared her poem outlining a professor’s thoughts while invigilating an exam. Apparently, MacDonald has reflected on birds, especially finches, while students are writing their exams.

Canisia

Canisia Lubrin read from Voodoo Hypothesis and reminds us that “black isn’t always a void.” Meditating on the many recent hurricanes that have hit the Caribbean, Lubrin writes, “We return to burn or bury what we have lost…” when nature swallows “things many times the size of our earth.”

 

A great event with talented voices…

Balderdash Reading Series runs with the generous support of the Graduate Student Association.  It holds monthly readings with new and established writers, often featuring works by writers published in the New Quarterly.

Story  by  Eleanor Ty

Photos by  Darin White

 

LUJA Launch 2017

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Over 40 students and faculty members attended the launch of the new issue of Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts on October 25, 2017 at the Robert Langen Gallery in the library.  A number of English and Film Studies students served on the management board responsible for the first issue of 2017.  They included: Mitchell Kooh, Mynt Marsellus, Esther Brockett, Brittney Tessier, Carina Rampelt, Madeline McInnis, and Vidish Parikh.  This issue includes articles on a wide range of topics, including, Disney films Wall-E and Tangled,  Tomson Highway,  the repatriation program used by International organizations,  changing demographics in Japan,  the constructedness of female orgasms, and non-binary identities. Mynt Marsellus noted that LUJA received over 200 submissions, and it was difficult for the editors to choose ten essays.

Richard Nemesvari, the Dean of Arts, expressed his delight and approbation of extra-curricular activities such as LUJA because they were a good form of experiential learning and a testament to the intellectual work happening at Laurier.

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Organizer and this year’s Editor, Angela James welcomed the new crew who would take over the Management of LUJA.

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It was an enjoyable evening, with good food, exquisite music, and even prizes for the audience.

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LUJA is funded by the Arts Undergraduate Society at Laurier.

Photos and  story by Eleanor Ty

 

Post humanism Guest Speaker: Nandita Biswas Mellamphy

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Dr. Nandita Biswas Mellamphy (Political Science, Western) presented a lecture called “Apps: Approaching Postman Politics” to a small but eager crowd at noon on October 19, 2017 at Hawk’s Nest.

Dr. Mellamphy warned that the allure of digital connectivity has morphed our society into one governed by Big Data, where humans have become datafied.  Posthuman governance is replacing human-centered systems.  For examples, weapons now operate efficiently without human intervention.

In our daily lives, we exist under a Panopticon and our activities have become permanently visible to data collectors, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.  Social norms have been re-engineered for data collection and are subject to be digitally compromised.

thumb_IMG_2931_1024Mellamphy: “Humans are undermined by being over-mined….”

Dr. Mellamphy’s talk was sponsored by the Posthuman Research Network.

Photos and report by  Eleanor Ty

English Students “Meet the Profs” Night

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Laurier’s English Students Association organized a “Meet the Profs” night at the Hawk’s Nest on Monday, October 2, 2017.

A literary guessing game was organized by Manreet Lachhar and co-VP of Events, Tess Campbell. The names of well-known literary texts and characters were supposed to be very familiar, but managed to stump a few professors and our Dean of Arts.

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Student Association President Chance LeJeune welcomed everyone and there were treats and special way to make s’mores.  A few brave souls dressed up for the photo booth.

It was a fun gathering and a nice way to meet students and colleagues.

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Photos courtesy of Mhairi Chandler.

Welcome MA and PhD Students 2017

 

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Photo by Eleanor Ty

The Department of English and Film Studies is delighted to welcome our new MA and PhD cohort this fall who have come to us from near and far:

PhD students

Melissa Brennan (University of New Brunswick)

Julia Empey (McMaster University)

Brendan Pinkofsky (WLU, Dalhousie – King’s College)

 

MA

Jamie Brewer (Brock [BEd], WLU)

Amanda Burrows-Peterson (Toronto [BA English], Concordia [BA History])

Tess Clark (WLU)

Alex Coleman (WLU)

Joseph Coot (Minnesota State)

Roxanne Hearn (York)

Azaan Khamis (WLU)

Mary Saleh (Tishreen Univ. [Syria])

Rachel Schryver (WLU)

Lubna Umar (Univ. Delhi)

Kevin Wallace (WLU)

The Department held a reception for new students organized by Grad Director Jing Jing Chang held at Veritas in mid-September where there was good conversation and good fun.  Best of luck for 2017-2018!

Photos courtesy of Jing Jing Chang