Congratulations, Victoria Kennedy

Victoria Kennedy

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 Gabaldon

Victoria Kennedy with Diana Gabaldon

Victoria comments:

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

Graduate Course Offerings: 2017-2018

FALL 2017

EN 600: Research Methods, Theory, and Professionalization
Dr. Katherine Bell

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EN600 is a  course that introduces students to bibliographic and research methods, theoretical models, and professional skills and issues related to English and Film Studies. The course is required for all MA students, and attendance is compulsory.

Note: The student’s performance in the course will be graded as either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” Failure to complete EN600 or to obtain a grade of “satisfactory” may result in suspension from the MA Program. A student’s final grade for the course will not be assigned as “satisfactory” until a grade of “satisfactory” has been obtained in all of the sessions.

EN 617: Identity Politics in Film
Dr. Jing Jing Chang

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This course focuses on the various impacts of the advent and developments of film as technology, art and politics in the cinematic traditions of such countries as China, Mexico, and Iran, among others. Our main goal will be to examine film going as a modernizing yet colonizing social practice as well as films as cultural documents that mobilized imagination in the processes of nation-building. The modern technology of film brought about a new form of leisure and entertainment, but it also introduced people to new ways of conceiving time and space that were at once violent and disruptive. Informed by issues and problems tackled by such cultural studies and film scholars as Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha and Ella Shohat among others, we will engage in in-depth analytic discussions of primarily non-Western national films in light of tradition and modernity, the urban and rural, women and family, body and sexuality, and colonialism and post-colonialism.

EN 627: Human Rights Genres
D
r. Madelaine Hron

partnoyThis course examines human rights discourse in light of the genres and rhetoric associated with it. We focus on the testimonial, documentary and Bildungsroman genres, on legal, trauma-inflected and sentimental rhetorics, but also consider such forms as propaganda, sci-fi or humor. Special attention is paid to such issues as visual/literary conventions/innovations, memory, “truth,” translation, cultural representation and ethical responses to suffering. Thematically, the course explores a variety of human rights (esp. torture, genocide, refugees, children’s rights, gender rights), as well as issues such as violence, bystanderism, trauma, healing, rehabilitation and reconciliation in such texts such as Wiesel’s Night, Partnoy’s The Little School, Hatzfeld’s Machete Season or documentaries such as Mr. Death, Half the Sky or The Art of Killing.

EN692d: Genesis, Genealogy, Genre: Foundational Fictions in Inter-American Literature
D
r. Ian MacRae

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This course is concerned with the literary-historical beginnings of settler-colonial cultures in the Americas – that is, with how the foundations of settler cultures have been figured in the twentieth century novel. We will begin with the quintessential founding instance in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Robert Alter’s translation of Genesis (1996). This text in many ways serves as a model for our three novels: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude, trans. Gregory Rabassa), and the West Coast Canadian writer Jack Hodgins ‘ The Invention of the World. This is a grouping of texts that coheres at a higher level of structural units, with strong internal elements of allusion, and complex echoing effects among scenes and speech types. We will read these texts in relation to one another, and through them chart a brief but meaningful history of the twentieth century inter-American novel. In so doing, issues in translation theory, literary Modernism, magical realism, postcolonialism, and biblical criticism will be raised.

EN692_: Graphic Novels
Dr
. Eleanor Ty

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This course looks at a selection of contemporary graphic novels produced by artists and writers primarily from Canada and the U.S. Emerging from comics books and comics strips, which were perceived as cheap ephemeral entertainment for children and a mass audience, the graphic novel has now gained recognition as a respectable literary genre for adult and young adults. We will study six to seven graphic novels, including Jeff Lemire’s Essex County (2009), Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s (2010), Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), Michael Cho’s Shoplifter (2014) as well as read critical essays about the development of the genre. Issues to be discussed include the relationship between image and text; aesthetics and narrative; the use of nostalgia, memory, fantasy, virtual reality, and the gothic; representations of the self, illness and aging, gender, sexuality, and race. NB. Students do not have to have competence in the genre to take the course.

WINTER 2018

EN 609: Canadian Women’s Literature
Dr. Tanis MacDonald

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Canadian women writers have noted that the legacy of literary feminism requires a sharp political sensibility, an ear for the possibilities of reclaiming the language of literary foremothers in the Canadian cultural milieu, and a willingness to assert an alternative narrative of nation to those offered by the cultural nationalism on the 1970s. This course is designed to introduce graduate students to canonical and emerging works by women writers in Canada, with the aim of discussing the major movements and debates that surround the formation of a “shadow canon” of Canadian feminist writing. We will discuss patterns in Canadian women’s literature and genre experimentation as ways to track shifts in political subjectivities. Critical material will engage the literary and cultural dynamics of identity politics and gender theory and invite analysis of genre as a textual strategy in the creation of a feminist counter-public.

EN 612: First Wave Feminism and Print Culture in Britain
Dr. Maria DiCenzo

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The course will examine a range of writings by late Victorian and Edwardian feminists, including essays and polemical works, periodicals/little magazines, literary genres (fiction, drama, poetry) and memoirs/ autobiography. The selection of primary readings reflects key figures and tendencies in the evolving women’s movement in these decades, with a particular focus on the suffrage campaign and an emphasis on diversity – the complex and often conflicting terms in which women reformers and activists engaged with one another and with the wider public. Approaching these texts from a feminist media history perspective offers an opportunity to move beyond conventional literary genres/discourses to examine the links between the proliferation of print media in the 19th and early 20th centuries, social movements and emerging modernities in these decades. The considerations underlying the course extend beyond the project of recovery and expanding the canon, to an investigation/interrogation of the social, political, and economic factors influencing what was produced, marketed, read, and ultimately legitimized/privileged through institutions of criticism then and scholarship now. These issues have been central to the growing field of ‘periodical studies’ and major digitization projects. Authors include Mona Caird, Eliza Lynn Linton, Sarah Grand, Cicely Hamilton, Gertrude Colmore, Rebecca West, Dora Marsden.

EN 616: Women and Crime in Fiction and Film
Dr. Philippa Gates

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This course explores women’s subjectivity as author and protagonist and also the representation of women’s relationships to law and order as detective and criminal in detective fiction and film from the 1880s to today. This course explores what happens to a traditionally male genre – the detective story – when women occupy the key position of hero, criminal, or author. While male and female authors and detectives worked within the same conventions in the early decades of the genre, the 1940s saw a polarization of gender, genre, and nation as the predominantly male American hardboiled tradition attempted to differentiate itself as more authentic than the predominantly female British classical tradition. A similar shift occurred in films from the strong Depression-era woman detective to her demonization or omission in the decades that followed. Only in the 1980s did both fiction and film see a resurgence of the female-authored and -centered detective stories and in new directions, including “dyke noir” and the criminalist/serial killer narrative. We will explore literary as well as cinematic examples of the genre in conjunction with critical texts addressing issues of gender, nation, race, sexuality, and class and also consider how the individual texts can be regarded as a challenge to the mainstream through an emphasis on anti-heroes, gender-bending, and formal stylization. Short stories and novels may include Old Sleuth’s dime novel Lady Kate (1886), Agatha Christie’s classical The Body in the Library (1942), and Sara Paretsky’s revolutionary Indemnity Only (1982). Films may include Daughter of Shanghai (1937) with the only cinematic female Asian detective, Phantom Lady (1944) with the rare female noir detective, and Bound (1996) with lesbian criminal-heroes.

EN 644: Aesthetics, Cosmetics, and the Beautiful
Dr. Andrea Austin

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This course will consider the cosmetic as cultural product, spiritual ideal, and iconographic practice. We will progress from a fundamental framework in aesthetics theory, particularly constructions of “the beautiful” in the visual arts, to a social history of the cosmetic, ranging from the cosmetic use of “natural poisons” (such as lead and arsenic) in the eighteenth century to the advent of a corporate cosmetics industry in the nineteenth century and the trend towards “organics” in the late twentieth century. A focus on DIY aesthetics, domestic/corporate and organic/synthetic dialectics, and the ontological significance of being “made up” will inform our readings of the primary course fictions. Selections from print and film texts, and secondary readings in aesthetics and cultural theory, will form our primary readings; course may also include a field trip.

EN 692p: Green Romanticism – From Semiotics to Praxis
Dr. Markus Poetzsch

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Foregrounding the tension between post-structuralism’s over-arching concern with rhetoricity and ecocriticism’s insistence on the materiality of “nature,” this course examines the interplay of nature-as-word and nature-as-world in the literature of the Romantic Era. From a wide array of lyric and loco-descriptive poetry, travelogues, natural histories, guidebooks and journals by writers such as William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Thelwall, Blake, Smith, Burns, Baillie, Shelley, Byron, Hemans, Clare and Ruskin, we will consider the artistic processes that alternately celebrate nature as parent or guide, that attempt to make nature as aesthetic spectacle subservient to human ends, that give nature a distinctive voice and moral agency, and, finally, that signal its unrepresentable otherness, what Timothy Morton calls its “strange strangeness.”

English & Film Studies Webpage: for up-to-date info

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

Congratulations, Katherine Quanz

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Photo: Katie Quanz at TIFF archives

Katherine Quanz successfully defended her doctoral dissertation “The Struggle To Be Heard: Toronto’s Postproduction Sound Industry, 1968 to 2005” on July 21, 2016.

Her thesis examines how economic and technological changes shaped the sounds of Canadian cinema, from the modern industry’s founding in the late 1960s to the widespread adoption of digital editing software in the early 2000s. By focusing on the labour and craft practices that coalesced in Toronto’s postproduction companies, Quanz argues that such practices engendered a critical shift in the sonic style of Canadian film sound. Whereas fiction films initially featured a sonic style developed by the National Film Board of Canada for documentary production, filmmakers eventually adopted a style strongly identified with Hollywood cinema. Although it is tempting to explain this shift by appealing to generalized statements about the globalization of Hollywood cinema, Quanz reveals a more complex picture in which a host of historical forces, including government policies, industrial competition, and discursive practices among craftspeople, are seen to shape how new sound technologies were used and how the adoption of these technologies did, or did not, affect the aesthetic of Canadian film sound. In order to narrow the focus of this dissertation, her case studies draw on films from the genres of horror and science fiction. This dissertation ultimately demonstrates that it is not technology alone that leads to style change; rather, such changes can be accounted for by a complex intersection of historical forces at any given period of Canadian film history. Put conversely, the history of Canadian cinema can be detected in its soundtracks.

The supervisory committee consisted of Katherine Spring, Rick Altman, Philippa Gates, Peter Urquhart, and the external examiner was Charles O’Brien.

Congratulations, Susan Hroncek

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Susan Hroncek successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, entitled Strange Compositions: Chemistry and its Occult History in Victorian Speculative Fiction, on August 9, 2016.
In this dissertation, Susan Hroncek examines how depictions of chemistry in Victorian literature are influenced by concerns regarding the history of chemistry and its relationship to the occult.  She argues that representations of chemistry from the period, particularly those found in popular texts, responded to societal concerns about the origins of chemistry with speculative narratives that depict a collision between chemical innovations and elements of chemistry’s occult or Eastern past. The frequency of negative depictions of chemistry during the Victorian period indicates how, despite discoveries that revolutionized industry and medicine, the British public regarded the science and its practitioners with suspicion. During a period as fascinated with origins as with progress, these texts expand upon the uncertainties of a society struggling with the tumultuous relationship between chemistry’s past, present, and future.
The supervisory committee consisted of supervisor Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky, Dr. Maria DiCenzo, and Dr. Markus Poetzsch, and the external examiner was Dr. Martin Danahay of the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University.
Susan Hroncek is currently pursuing the publication of her research, including a forthcoming article in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, and remains involved in Dr. DiCenzo’s project on Women’s Print Media in Interwar Britain (1918-1939), which includes both an Edinburgh Companion and an Omeka online archive. She is planning a new project on Victorian representations of the chemical industry and the chemistry of photography with Laurier colleague Maggie Clark.

Serious Work in Amsterdam

Russ Anders

Submitted by Russ Kilbourn

PhD candidate Anders Bergstrom, Professor Christine Daigle (Brock Philosophy/ Interdisciplinary Studies), and Professor Russell Kilbourn presented papers in a panel, “What Comes After Affect?—The ‘Non-Human Turn’ and the New Master Narrative(s)” at the Narrative Studies Conference in Amsterdam, June 16-18, 2016.

The papers emerged in response to the general question: what comes after affect, when ‘post-affective’ culture signifies not the end of affect but its total dissemination? The degree and status of affect at the level of uncritical consumption, and for everyday life, is markedly different from its value for contemporary critical theory, showing how historically out-of-step the latter is with the ways in which real people actually experience things affectively, before the disruptive interposition of ideology, reason, consciousness, higher brain functions–those features of conscious or unconscious human experience that have heretofore defined the human in contradistinction to that which is non- or other-than-human. From the positing of a set of philosophical parameters for a new theory of post-affective, ‘posthuman’, subjectivity, the panel moved to a pair of theory-based readings of specific filmic examples.

The conference was held at the University of Amsterdam in the historic city centre, within walking distance of the major tourist sites, as well as a great many of Amsterdam’s famous ‘coffee shops’. (On at least one occasion we had the opportunity to discover that these shops do in fact sell coffee.) A comparatively large international event, the conference included no less than 109 panels involving approximately 380 presenters over three days, with three keynote speakers—Espen Aarseth, IT University of Copenhagen (“Fifty Shades of Play: Making Sense of the Game-Story Landscape”), Clare Hemmings, The London School of Economics (“Feminist Articulations: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality in a New Feminist Landscape”), and Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham (“The Cohesion and Expansion of Fictional Worlds”)—each of whom spoke on a cutting edge topic in narrative theory. In addition, six ‘Contemporary Narrative Theory Speakers’ led roundtable discussions on specific topics.

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Conference participants agreed that organizers Tara MacDonald and Daniel Hassler-Forrest did an exemplary job planning the event—especially in terms of the social dimension. In addition to the closing night dance party, pictured here, the conference kicked off with an opening reception at the new EYE film museum, a short ferry ride across the harbor from the central station. In the end we were surprised to learn that narratologists really know how to have a good time, and that Amsterdam is still one of the best cities in the world.

MA Practicum at a Literary Journal

Marin Flavia

By: Flavia Marin (2016)

When I started working toward my Master’s Degree at Laurier, I was at a loss regarding what I would do afterward. But I also knew that my experience in the program would help guide me into the direction in which I should go. I did not expect that when I opted to participate in the practicum option in the Spring term, however, that the position for which I would be accepted would be so perfect. I had the opportunity to work at The New Quarterly (a literary magazine which has been publishing the work of up and coming Canadian authors for 35 years).

During my placement at The New Quarterly, I was able to acquire quite the range of skills and information. I have learned about e-mail communication outside of a university setting (something I had not yet encountered in the working world). During the placement, I was the first point of contact for both subscribers to The New Quarterly, as well as writers who were submitting work, checking on the status of their work, as well as those writes whom we had already agreed to publish.

I accepted and processed regular entries to the magazine, as well as special calls for submissions, and contest entries (all of which were processed and sorted differently). I also helped some writers process their payments for contest entries, and answered a range of questions regarding all types of submissions.

I also formatted all of the contest submissions coming in, and recorded them onto an Excel sheets. I was also responsible for labeling each entry so that it can be connected to the writer’s name, as there could be no names on the submissions (because the authors are to remain anonymous to the judges, during the judging process). I was also responsible for zipping submission files into bundles of 10, and sending them to the appropriate editors (fiction, poetry, and non-fiction).

Another skill that I acquired was how to navigate and properly employ numerous databases, as well as how to use and fill out charts. Some charts contained author information, while for others I had to calculate subscription renewal ratios (for example). I also used one of the databases to find subscribers whose subscriptions were on the verge of expiring, and used that information to print out renewal letters, or create emails for subscription renewals.

Before my placement, I was already well-versed in the use of social media, but I had never had to use social media platforms for a company before. I greatly enjoyed this aspect of the placement, as I got to put out a lot of the promotions for events and contests. I was also given the opportunity to take photos for these promotions, and post them up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And on that note, I had also proposed that The New Quarterly open accounts on Goodreads and Tumblr also, and then was put in charge of making that happen. I especially enjoyed creating the Tumblr layout for The New Quarterly, and then maintaining that account. I have also done a lot of work on improving The New Quarterly’s presence on Instagram.

What I was the most excited about learning and experiencing at this placement, however, was participation in the editorial committee for the most recent batch of submissions. I was given the opportunity to be a part of the fiction editorial committee, which was like a dream come true to me. I want to become a fiction editor, and I believe that this was the most valuable experience for me, at this placement, as I was able to be a part of the editing process. I was also invited to be a part of the meeting, where we selected the pieces of short fiction which we would publish within the issue which is coming out in the Fall.

The supervisor also asked that I proofread one of the submissions for the issue which is to come out this summer. I felt incredibly happy that she trusted me enough to catch any mistakes in a piece of work which she has already read, and which will be published. I was able to see her notes, as well as the notes of the author, as they had gone through the editorial process. Overall, this was an invaluable learning experience.