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
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.
They had a trivia game that determined if the students would be smarter than the professors in literary questions from all areas of study. The students were spilt into two teams of eight and the Professors team was made up of Dr. Poetzsch, Dr. Pirbhai, Dr. Sharpe, Dr. Shakinovsky, Dr. Kerber, Dr. Wyse, and Heather Olaveson. It was a close game but the professors won by two points. They said they would have had a higher score if Dr. Waugh stayed to help answer all the medieval questions, but they still came out as winners.
The “Profs”: R. Waugh, L. Shakinovsky, M. Poetzsch, M. Pirbhai, A. Sharpe, J. Kerber and B. Wyse, H. Olaveson (not in photo)
Beniah Lanoue, Sarah Shearer, Manreet Lachhar, and Heather Hattle: Judges
Story and photos by Daniella Cavallini
Good news, poets and prose writers! The deadline for the English Students Association’s second annual writing contest has been extended until Wednesday March 8th. To enter, see details in the poster below.
Edwin Adjei is a second year PhD candidate in African Studies from the University of Ghana. He won a Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship to spend the Fall 2016 semester at Laurier, where he worked under the joint supervision of Dr. Tanis MacDonald and Dr. Mariam Pirbhai. During this time, Edwin attended graduate and undergraduate courses, while developing his dissertation proposal in the areas of West African Young Adult literature and gender studies. Edwin’s time at Laurier was a mutually enriching experience for his faculty supervisors, graduate peers and fellow students. We were delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this wonderful student exchange run by the office of Laurier International and the Tshepo Institute of African Studies. Please find below Edwin’s account of his experience as a QEII scholar at Laurier. (Introductory note by Mariam Pirbhai)
Edwin and D. Tanis MacDonald
Edwin and Dr. Mariam Pirbhai
My name is Edwin Adjei (BA Hons, English and Sociology; M.Phil, African Studies) and a Queen Elizabeth II Scholar at WLU for a semester. I am currently a second year PhD candidate at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. My time at the English department of WLU gave meaning to the proverb, “knowledge is like the baobab tree; no one person’s arm can encircle it.” As a student with a background in African Studies, and no knowledge of Canadian literature, my expectations were high as well as my anxiety. My time at Laurier not only broadened my knowledge in my thesis area but also offered me the opportunity to meet and network with students and scholars from around the world, as well as providing a lot of knowledge about the Canadian academy and culture.
I took courses in Creative writing (poetry) with Dr. Tanis MacDonald, and Narratives of Empire and South-Asian Canadian Literature with Dr. Mariam Pirbhai. I could not help but look forward to each lecture as the approach to teaching was not only captivating but also highly enlightening. Sharing ideas with my coursemates and learning from professors who displayed high competence in their field made me relish each moment in class. Coming from a different background, what made me enjoy my time at the English department most was how the professors in my class made time to lay the foundation for their expectations concerning my assignments. They not only laid the foundation but aided me step by step as I gradually adapted to my classes and the requirements for the Canadian academy. This was because they recognized the effect people’s educational and cultural backgrounds have on their approach to their studies and life and therefore aided in the transition from the Ghanaian to the Canadian curricula with lots of encouragement and direction on the transition process and academic progress.
Most important was the help of my professors in shaping my thoughts in relation to my thesis which was at its beginning stages when I came to Wilfrid Laurier University. They were so instrumental in laying the background for my thesis that I was able to complete a first draft of my proposal within the first two months of my stay in Canada. In addition to this, they were very helpful with suggestions on how I can be a better student and academic. Finally, they noticed my challenges with aspects of my academic writing and took time to offer me tutorials to help me write better in order to help me publish papers easily in North America which was very important as publications are the lifeblood of a successful academic career.
Overall, my time in the English department of Wilfrid Laurier University equipped me with valuable insights and intellectual experience that has further enhanced my interest in teaching and research as I envisage becoming an astute researcher engaging with other scholars in emerging areas of multi-disciplinary research with an emphasis on literature and performance. I also believe that my multicultural experience in the English department will make me a better teacher as in an increasingly multicultural global community, multicultural experience enhances one’s ability to embrace other cultures and be able to better interact with people of other cultures and experiences and enhance interactions with people of all cultures in order to be able to better serve society and the world.