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.
Alisha Salvador (2016) is thrilled that the final paper she wrote for EN 252 Multiculturalism and Literature, taught by Dr. Mariam Pirbhai, will be published by LUJA: Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts.
My final paper was titled “Omnivore Perspectives of Food and Cultural Identity” and as the title suggests, it explores the relationship between food and one’s individual and cultural identity. As I was researching for additional articles to use in my paper, I came across Fischler’s “Incorporation Principle” and “Omnivore’s Paradox.” Fischler’s “Incorporation Principle” suggests how our physical features, behaviours, and identity are products of the food we consume. The “Omnivore’s Paradox” takes this principle one step further, and presents humans as ‘omnivores’ that tend to either embrace or fear the “incorporation” of other cultural cuisines based on the appreciation of either ethnic diversity or purity. I argued that throughout the novel Digging to America, Anne Tyler uses the leitmotif of food to illustrate instances of the “Omnivore’s Paradox” during intercultural encounters between two families, the Yazdans and the Donaldsons. This paper required a lot of time and effort due to the complexity of my chosen topic. I hope my paper will inspire students to challenge themselves and their writing abilities, to not be afraid of asking for help or utilizing the resources around them, and to develop a new understanding about the relationship between food and cultural identity.
The Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts “demonstrates the very best talent our student body has to offer in our measured opinions and our informative expertise… taking part will improve your writing skills through our review process, impress graduate committees when applying, and support the student community by demonstrating the highest standards of academic skill.”
Honours Communications and Film Studies ’13
“I was intimidated by the uncertainty of pursuing a career in a competitive industry such as film and television so I initially enrolled in the Film Studies program as a solid second choice to film school—a safe bet. But my program ended up being the perfect foundation for my career in film. The program broadened my knowledge of film history and genre, exposed me to the formal language of cinema, its use as a social and political medium, and its hands-on editing course cemented my passion in filmmaking and motivated me to pursue film production after graduation. In the end, my experience was integral in supplying me with the foundational tools that has helped me become a well-rounded filmmaker and producer working in the industry today.” Priscilla is an Associate Producer at Blue Ice Pictures in Toronto and, currently, is producing and directing a dark comedy web-series, “How to Buy A Baby,” about an infertile couple going through fertility treatments. Check out the series teaser .
Read about Priscilla’s web series about infertility in The Cord.
Dr. Mariam Pirbhai presented the 100 year old history of South Asian immigration to Canada and noted the importance of the Komagata Maru for this community. She has recently edited a special issue on South Asian Canadian writing for Studies in Canadian Literature.
Aboriginal playwright and author Drew Hayden Taylor discussed the challenges of being half-Caucasian and half-Ojibway and growing up in the small community of Curve Lake First Nations. He says that as a child, he escaped from the limitations of his community by reading comics and adventure books, and is now writing more genre fiction, such as his Aboriginal vampire novel, The Night Wanderer and his forthcoming book of native science fiction.
Creative Writing at Laurier
Prize sponsor Doug Heard presented Danielle LeDuc with the Chris Heard Memorial Writing Prize. The prize was established by the Heard family for Chris Heard who was a student at Laurier who loved to write.
Danielle LeDuc read her amazing story, “War: A People’s History” which was surprisingly not about the kind of war you’d imagine.
Dr. MacDonald and several other students from Dr. MacDonald’s creative writing class read the following short pieces:
Anthony Haslam, “Shaman’s Brew”
Dan Douglas, “Fact”
Jenna Galluccio, cento song: “Tired Lovemaking” and poem “Snap, Crackle, Pop”
Jenna Hazzard, “King of Pool”
Dr. MacDonald, “Very Wide Awake,” a poem about the space race and Planet of the Apes
Dr. Maria DiCenzo introduced three alumni who graduated from English or the Film Studies Program.
Andrew Baechler (BA English 2007) played football when he was at Laurier and has now combined his love of reading and his communication skills with sports at his current job. He is the Media Relations, Communications, and Sports Information Officer at the Athletics Department at Guelph University.
Ron Butler (BA Film Studies 2012) loved studying films and even made films for the Fringe when he was at Laurier. He is a cinematographer and filmmaker at Final Frame Productions.
Hanna Burnett (MA 2013, BA EN/FS 2012) says that her MA year at Laurier was the best educational year of her life. She is the Coordinator, Program Services at the Toronto International Film Festival and had entertaining anecdotes about the challenges of classifying and rating films for TIFF.
English Student Association
The English Student Association, represented by Daniella Cavallini, Beniah Lanoue, and Chris presented a PowerPoint series about the association, including aims, benefits of joining the ESA, and events planned for the Winter term, then held a short meeting with prospective members.
During fall semester 2015, students have been sneaking around with plastic bags and surreptitiously slipping them to Dr. Hron or furtively smuggling them into her classes. What are these suspicious-looking packages?
It all started when Dr. Madelaine Hron shared some of her experiences working in Rwandan prisons with her EN 313: West African Literature & Culture class. For a number of years now, Dr. Hron has been working with the small Canadian-based NGO, JustEquipping/Juste.Equipage , which runs various kinds of restorative justice projects in the Great Lakes Regions of Africa, especially projects related to prisons in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Most notably, JustEquipping has encouraged more than 700 convicted killers of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda to write letters asking forgiveness of their victims. Local chaplains would then locate these victims and bring them these letters. Then, if the victims wished, the chaplains read them these letters, counseling the victims in their pain and grief. If the victims wanted, the chaplains would facilitate a face-to-face meeting with the killer in prison.
Dr. Hron has seen and done some pretty amazing things with this group – for instance, she has played soccer with teens in prison, coddled the babies of female prisoners (women can have their children in prison until they are six years old), or celebrated mass beside dozens of convicted priests and bishops.
Rilima youth playing soccer in prison
Dr. Hron has witnessed a poignant victim meet with an offender for the first time, an offender who killed many members of the victim’s family. She has also visited a village where offenders and victims live together in peace. In one case, they live right across the street from each other, with the victims’ houses having been built by those who massacred their families.
Dr. Hron also shared with her class the terrible conditions she witnessed in some of these prisons. For instance, in the central prison in Goma, Congo, there are 1800 male adults in a facility built for 150; there are no barracks, everyone sleeps in an open courtyard, be it rain or shine. Dr. Hron was particularly troubled by the situation of women in Rwandan prisons, since she spent quite a bit of time with them. In Rwanda, until 2012, prison facilities were co-ed; luckily now, there is one main prison for female prisoners in Ruhengeri-Musanze. Many of these women do not really deserve to be in prison, but, being poor and disenfranchised, cannot afford a decent lawyer. As Dr. Hron noted in class, “In Rwanda, having an abortion, or aiding in an abortion is a capital offence – meaning a life sentence. It is very easy to accuse a woman who has miscarried of aborting her fetus, or to indict a neighbour who brought her some tea. I know of women who gave birth to the infant they supposedly aborted while in prison. Yet they are still there, wasting away, awaiting trial, because they don’t have the money for a defence attorney, like many other poor women languishing in Rwandan prisons.”
Women in Rwandan prisons suffer daily degradation – for instance, prisons do not even provide them with underwear or sanitary napkins. Ostracized and ashamed, most women dare not ask family or friends for such basic necessities. Dr. Hron explained that last time she traveled to Rwanda she collected underwear and sanitary napkins for these female prisoners. She wished she could undertake such a project again, since a local member of JustEquipping was leaving for Rwanda in January.
Upon hearing that they could do something tangible to help these women, Dr. Hron’s EN313 class sprang into action. They wanted to provide each and every woman with a new pair of underwear for 2016. Dr. Hron was skeptical about this goal– there are more than 250 women in the Ruhengeri-Musanze prison… and there were only 26 students in her EN 313 class! However, nothing would deter these students – they spread the news and started bringing in underwear. Impressed, Dr. Hron then also recruited the help of her own friends, her EN/FS colleagues, as well as that of her large 160 person class, EN209 Fairy Tales. Soon, underwear starting piling up in Dr. Hron’s office, her car, her house… And by Christmas break, Dr. Hron counted that she had amassed more than 300 pairs of women’s undergarments! Amazing! Over the Christmas break, Dr. Hron carefully rolled them up, so that they would fit into a large suitcase (this rolling took more than 6 hours).
The women in Ruhengeri-Musanze prison will most appreciate all your gestures of kindness. The suitcase is in Rwanda right now (Feb. 2016), and the underwear will be distributed during the week of Feb 22-26. Thank you everyone for your generosity, and for making the world a bit better place – one pair of undies at a time…
Tanis MacDonald presents paper on Renee Saklikar’s Children of Air India
Tanis MacDonald and Eleanor Ty were invited to participate in the Canada and Beyond Seminar 3 at the University of Huelva, Spain from 19-20 June 2014 hosted by Pilar Cuder-Dominguez (Universidad de Huelva) and Belen Martin Lucas (Universidade de Vigo). About 20 scholars from Canada, Britain, and Europe gathered to talk about “the geopolitics of intimacy.” Other speakers included Cynthia Sugars (University of Ottawa), Winfried Siemerling (University of Waterloo), and writer/poet, Larissa Lai (CRC, University of Calgary).
Tanis MacDonald’s “Unauthorized Exhibits: The Space of Mourning” argued that even when the elegy concerns familial loss, it can be political. Eleanor Ty’s “Intimacy, Violence, and Disruption in Monsieur Lazhar” looked at the parallels between familiar teacher and the stranger to reveal the connections triggered by unexpected violence. After the conference, they visited some castles and other sights.