That’s a wrap, folks: winter film series concludes with screening of The Pass System

The final installment of this winter’s Tracking Shots 3 Aboriginal Film Series was a screening of The Pass System (2015) on March 23rd. Toronto-based filmmaker Alex Williams was on hand to introduce and discuss his documentary, which draws on archival research and interviews with academics and elders to illuminate the history of Canada’s enforced (and illegal) segregation of Indigenous peoples on reserves, especially in the years following the Northwest Resistance of 1885. The system required First Nations people to obtain a pass from the local Indian Agent to leave the reserve for any reason, and although it was introduced as a ‘temporary security measure’ it persisted for decades. Stories about this system’s implementation and effects deserve to be more widely known, and we were fortunate to have Alex and local elder Elaine Endanawas on hand to share their insights. The film generated a thoughtful discussion among attendees about how to reckon with this history of restricted mobility and its implications for reconciliation. This year, the series presented a total of eight films ranging from shorts to full-length features. Thanks to all who came out to see these new works and share in the conversation!

ESA and Writer in Residence Co-host “Taking Flight”

On Thursday, March 16th, Laurier’s current Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence Ashley Little and the English Students’ Association co-hosted Taking Flight: A Celebration of Creative Writing. Ashley kicked off the evening by reading one of her newest stories titled “Plaza,” followed by readings from the finalists and winners of the ESA’s Second Annual Creative Writing Contest. The contest received many excellent submissions, and all of the runners-up and winners of the contest were on hand to share their work. In the poetry category, the Runners-up were Kyleen McGragh of the Brantford Campus and Jenna Hazard of the Waterloo campus, while Maria Kouznetsova from Waterloo won for her musically-inflected journey through local surroundings titled “Six Impressions of the Walk to Hepcat Swing.”

In the prose category, the Runners-up were Hastings Gresser from the Brantford campus and Jenna Hazard from Waterloo, while second-year English student Sarah Ali (Waterloo) took top honours for her highly inventive transnational piece, “Culling Campaign.”

Following a short intermission, refreshments, and a generous door prize draw sponsored by the ESA, the mic was opened up for other readers, and the audience was treated to a diverse array of creative work by students ranging from first year through to senior levels. Thanks to all who came out to celebrate our campus literary talent!

Jenny Kerber

English Student Association’s “Meet the Profs” Night

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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.
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The “Profs”: R. Waugh, L. Shakinovsky, M. Poetzsch, M. Pirbhai, A. Sharpe, J. Kerber and B. Wyse,  H. Olaveson (not in photo)
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Beniah Lanoue, Sarah Shearer, Manreet Lachhar, and Heather Hattle: Judges
Story and photos by Daniella Cavallini

Winning Love by Daylight: Students share their love and knowledge of film at full-day WLU Film Symposium

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The Film Studies faculty members extend their hearty congratulations to all of the undergraduate students who presented academic papers and creative works at the annual WLU Film Symposium, held last Friday and organized by the WLU Film Society. Over the course of the day, the audience was treated to a series of intellectually stimulating papers, stunning music videos and movie trailer recreations, astute questions from the audience, and, in the symposium’s final moments, a spontaneous dance party set to the theme song of Sailor Moon. A list of paper presenters is posted below. Many additional students screened work produced for their courses in video editing (FS370 and FS371), with a special presentation of two short films featuring sound editing by FS major Zixuan Lou. Congratulations to all of you!

Chris Luciantonio, Not Good Enough and The Tactile Accessibility of Stop-Motion Animation

Amanda McKelvey, Stereotypes in Masculine Melodrama

Mynt Marsellus, The Walking Dead, Zombies, and Genre Hybridity

Christina Shirley, Utopianism in Les Miserables and La La Land

Samantha Hutchinson, Shakespeare’s Bawdy on the Big Screen

Madeline McInnis, Modern Day Cinema of Attractions

Daniel Gibel, Soldier of Orange to Starship Trooper: The Evolution of Paul Verhoeven as an Auteur

Jonathan Lim, Canadian Identity: Anything but Clearcut

Jacqueline Ouellette, Penny’s Value: Feminist Auteur Puts the Woman in a Refrigerator

Yeng Hang, Mo Lei Tau: Reconsidering Hong Kong’s Despised Genre

Michael Oliveri, Popular Portrayals of Peasants in Battleship Potemkin and Chapaev

Connor Hotzwik, Discussions of Art in Early Film

Amy Holman, Bazin’s Puppets

Breanna Kettles, The Knight Who Doesn’t Slay the Dragon: The Reconciliation of Sci-fi and Fantasy Components in Scrapped Princess

Aruba Khurshid: How to Sell to the West: A Look at Sailor Moon’s Success

Early Modern Play Reading at the Pub

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Dr. Andrew Bretz, who teaches our Early Modern courses, has been leading students in an informal and fun performative reading group. In the fall and winter semester, Dr. Bretz shares his enthusiasm for some of the bawdiest and most brilliant works of the Jacobean Golden Age with about a dozen or so keeners who show up at Wilf’s to read aloud plays and learn more about the context in which they were written.

Photos: Francis Alexander Rock

Andrew Bretz says, ” This past fall we looked at Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (a rollicking comedy about the (literally) devilish shenanigans undergraduates got up to in the renaissance), The Revenger’s Tragedy (which is to Hamlet what Young Frankenstein is to the original Frankenstein), and The Jew of Malta (wherein Christopher Marlowe created probably the most interesting anti-hero the English stage has EVER seen).”

These pictures are from our Revenger’s Tragedy play reading, where, like Hamlet, everyone got to hold the skull!  I invite you to come and join our Early Modern Play Reading Group at WLU and broaden your knowledge of Shakespeare and company!

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Employment Opportunities event a success

On Oct. 5, The Department ran an event in the Paul Martin Centre: Employment Opportunities for English, Film Studies, and other Arts Students. Our graduate students were clearly interested in the subject matter of this event, and indeed provided the impetus for its development.

The Dean of Arts, Richard Nemesvari, opened the proceedings with Remarks concerning myths about the underemployment of Arts graduates. Laura Bolton, from the Career Centre, and Robin Waugh then offered a dialogue called “How to Apply for Non-Academic versus Academic Positions,” which provoked many questions from students. David Cuff, from the Office of Research Services, then delivered a talk on “How to Secure High Quality Training for Research Assistants in Grants,” and this topic was continued by two faculty members from our Department, Jenny Kerber and Katherine Spring, and one Professor Emeritus, Paul Tiessen, who outlined the specific tasks that Research Assistants had performed as part of their employment under federal granting programs. Kyra Jones wrapped up the event with her talk, entitled “Taking your Teaching Experience beyond Academia.” Finally Robin Waugh read aloud Closing Remarks by Tamas Dobozy, the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

I heard very positive responses from several students, who also thanked the Department for putting together an event on this topic. Special thanks to the Dean of Arts Office for providing funding for the event, and to all speakers, who gave so generously of their time—I know the advice concerning employment was greatly appreciated. Thanks to Joanne Buchan for arranging the room and the snacks: strudel, fruit, and other sweet items. In sum a very successful event.

By: Robin Waugh

Photos courtesy of Emily Bednarz

Filmmaker and rock musician Wendy Schneider to present The Smart Studios Story, Fri. Sept. 23

the-smart-studios-story-director-wendy-schneider-250If you’ve ever been moved by the music of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, L7, or Death Cab For Cutie, you’ve been moved by the sounds created at Smart Studios, an unassuming indie recording studio that became a driving force of alternative rock worldwide. The story of this humble facility — its rise from a dilapidated building located on the edge of town in Madison, Wisconsin, to a legendary recording facility featuring a talent roster of acclaimed artists — is the subject of a new feature-length documentary, The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider. We are thrilled to welcome Schneider to the Waterloo and Brantford campuses for a series of classroom visits as well as public screenings on Friday, September 23. The Waterloo screening will be followed by a discussion with Schneider and Bob Egan, former member of Blue Rodeo and now Community Outreach Manager of the Kitchener Public Library.

Featuring never-before-seen archival footage as well as interviews with Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Shirley Manson, Donita Sparks, Chris Walla, and many more, the film focuses on the pivotal Midwest link to the global rise of indie alt-rock music. The film debuted at SXSW 2016 and has since earned critical accolades. In Variety, Dennis Harvey writes, “With plenty of archival video and other materials on tap, The Smart Studios Story is a whirlwind tour of a busy if largely subterranean epoch whose long, often fleetingly glimpsed talent roster should pique the curiosity (and/or nostalgia) of alt-rock archaeologists.”

Schneider, who resides in Madison, Wisconsin, leverages the power of music, film, and the visual arts in order to address community issues. She is the creative force behind a range of projects including an audio documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning CD compilation of songs protesting the Iraq War, audio soundscapes for children, the groundbreaking film documentaryCUT: Teens and Self-Injury (Official Film Selection of the 2008 American Psychological Association conference), and most recently The Smart Studios Story. A long-time community activist, her work is dedicated to bringing creativity into contact with community issues, as evidenced by her many local projects in Madison, including Sparkle Dog®, a company that uses audio-based literature as a learning tool in local elementary schools, and fundraisers for groups including Housing Initiatives, Rape Crisis Center, and the Young, Gifted & Black Coalition. Also a well-known figure in Madison’s rock music scene, Schneider has released two albums, Bugatti Type 35 and Traction.

All are welcome to attend this free event. Brantford details: Friday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. in OD107 (Odeon Theatre, 50 Market St.). Waterloo details: Friday, Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. in BA201 (Bricker Academic Building). Light refreshments will be served at the Waterloo screening. For more information, contact Dr. Katherine Spring at kspring@wlu.ca or 519-884-0710, ext. 4149.

The event is made possible with the generous support of the Office of the Provost & Vice-President: Academic, Office of the Dean of Arts, Department of English and Film Studies, Department of Communication Studies, and Digital Media and Journalism Program.