A roll of exposed film. What images might it hold?
Polaroid Land Camera Model 80 Highlander (USA, 1954-57)
No. 1 Pocket Kodak (Canada, 1926-32)
A little bit of Laurier history came home on June 27, 2017, when Film Studies accepted the donation of a collection of historic cameras from WLU alumna Melanie Reed.
The collection includes over 100 pieces of photographic equipment, from film and still cameras to lenses, print copiers, camera cases, and rolls of film. Some of the first cameras ever produced for the mass market can be found in this collection, such the famous “Brownie” No. 2 box cameras produced by Kodak starting in 1901 and the “Pocket Kodak” folding cameras of the 1910s and 1920s. The collection features cameras from every decade of the 20th century and from many countries around the world, including Canada, the US, England, France, Germany, the USSR, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Along with the history of film and photography, this collection also evokes a piece of Laurier history, as it was donated in gratitude to Dr. Wilhelm E. Nassau -or, as he was known around campus back in the day, “Willy Nassau.” Nassau was born in Vienna in 1922 and began his career in the European film industry, most notably working on the Oscar-winning 1949 thriller The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed and starring Orson Welles. In 1969, Nassau came to WLU (then Waterloo Lutheran University), where he worked as Director of Audio-Visual Resources and as a teacher of technical courses for many years. Melanie Reed, a former student of his, fondly remembers “Willy Nassau” as a man who was incredibly passionate about film and innovative in teaching. She recalls, for instance, students having to take pictures for his course with cameras they made themselves. Pieces from Nassau’s own vast collection of historic camera equipment can now be found in the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. He inspired Melanie to begin collecting historic cameras herself, and eventually to donate her collection to the Film Studies program.
This compact yet comprehensive collection gives us a picture of the past here at Laurier, and wherever these cameras have traveled!
Sam McKegney ’99, Associate Professor, Queen’s University
My name is Sam McKegney (WLU English BA Hons, 1999), and I’m a settler scholar of Indigenous literatures. Currently, I am the Acting Head of Queen’s University’s Department of English, and have just completed a stint as the President of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA). Folks ask me from time to time how I—a white guy from Midwestern Ontario—came to study Indigenous literatures. Well, a good part of the answer to that question has to do with my time at Laurier. I’ve always been drawn to the socio-political impact of activist art: the capacity of literature to crack open and lay bare the injustices beneath the surface of daily realities and indeed to envisage alternative horizons of possibility. As such, I opted to study as many courses as I could at Laurier with an identifiably political focus: Maria DiCenzo’s “Literature and Social Change,” Gary Boire’s “Postcolonial Literature,” Paul Tiessen’s course on Marxist Film, and on and on. I relished every moment in these classes—engaging in debate with my classmates, learning from brilliant profs, reaching beyond the safe haven of the classroom to consider our collective embeddedness in ongoing systems of oppression. Yet despite studying in these classes, and taking others like “Canadian Literature” and “American Literature,” I didn’t encounter a single text authored by an Indigenous writer from Turtle Island in any of my English courses during the entirety of four amazing years at Laurier. Remember: this was the mid-90s.
Meanwhile, in my second year, I took an elective course on Indigenous Canadian History, which required me to do an independent study on the residential school system. As primarily a student of literature, I reached beyond the historical texts recommended for the assignment to investigate life-writings by Indigenous survivors, starting with Anishinaabe writer Basil Johnston’s Indian School Days. I was blown out of the water, not only by the power and precision of the prose, but also by the fact that I, as a Canadian student of literature, hadn’t been exposed to this material in other venues. I began seeking out other works by Indigenous authors to supplement the learning I was receiving in my courses: Eden Robinson, Gregory Scofield, Tomson Highway, Daniel David Moses, Jeannette Armstrong. And I seem to recall gently bothering people like Dr. Boire, saying, “Why aren’t these incredible artists on your Can Lit syllabus!?”
When I left Laurier armed with my bundle of critical skills and curiosities, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into Indigenous literary studies. For my doctoral work, I studied the activist potential of residential school survival narratives; this became the foundation of my first book, Magic Weapons: Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community after Residential School (University of Manitoba Press 2007). I am grateful to have had Basil Johnston, the man whose memoire had spurred me on this path in the first place, offer to write the book’s foreword. I am grateful as well for my four inspiring years in Laurier English—and pleased to see among the Department’s current course offerings “Indigenous Writers in English.”
Laurier English grad (2006) Michael Daly’s first book, The Havana Papers has won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for best non-fiction ebook. The Eric Hoffer Award honors freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. The “Hoffer” honors books from small, academic, and micro presses, including self-published offering and the grand prize is $2,000.
In addition to the Hoffer award, Daly’s book also won the First Horizon Award, a prize given to the best first-time authors. Michael Daly works as the Quality Assurance Coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University. He provides support for departments undergoing cyclical reviews and developing new programs, as well as administrating Laurier classroom management processes. Outside of work, Michael Daly is a partner in a production company that writes and records original radio plays for a modern audience.
About The Havana Papers:
With a 1958 portable typewriter in his suitcase, the writer wanders Havana’s crumbling back alleys, bullet-sprayed museums, and grand hotels where the relics of the Revolution and the ghost of Hemingway still speak loudly. Whether getting grifted while watching a dubiously-billed piano player from the Buena Vista Social Club, dodging grifters and conmen, or wandering amongst over a million marble graves, The Havana Papers offers a rare glimpse into old Havana—a UNESCO World Heritage site—in the 21st Century. When his typewriter breaks in transit, the writer is forced to reconsider his writing holiday and put his novel on hold, until a new story emerges from the vibrance and history in the Old City—Habana Vieja. Travel beyond the postcard pictures and vibrant colours of the tourist facade, and into a world forgotten by time’s advance, frozen in a fifties’ imagination, and aching under the strain of modernity. The Havana Papers reveals a complex, contemporary portrait of one of the world’s great historic cities.
The Havana Papers is available for your favourite eReader wherever fine eBooks are sold.
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.