Welcome MA and PhD Students 2017

 

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Photo by Eleanor Ty

The Department of English and Film Studies is delighted to welcome our new MA and PhD cohort this fall who have come to us from near and far:

PhD students

Melissa Brennan (University of New Brunswick)

Julia Empey (McMaster University)

Brendan Pinkofsky (WLU, Dalhousie – King’s College)

 

MA

Jamie Brewer (Brock [BEd], WLU)

Amanda Burrows-Peterson (Toronto [BA English], Concordia [BA History])

Tess Clark (WLU)

Alex Coleman (WLU)

Joseph Coot (Minnesota State)

Roxanne Hearn (York)

Azaan Khamis (WLU)

Mary Saleh (Tishreen Univ. [Syria])

Rachel Schryver (WLU)

Lubna Umar (Univ. Delhi)

Kevin Wallace (WLU)

The Department held a reception for new students organized by Grad Director Jing Jing Chang held at Veritas in mid-September where there was good conversation and good fun.  Best of luck for 2017-2018!

Photos courtesy of Jing Jing Chang

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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

Reception for Graduate Students

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From Left to Right: Dalia Eliwad [Phd], Lena Yang [MA], Jared Robinson [MA]. Edwin Adjei [visiting scholar from Ghana], Catherine Brunskill [MA], Anthony Haslam [MA], Mary Tillich [MA], Maria Cammaert Stengos [MA].  Missing: Khadija Plummer and Daniel Rankin [MA]

It was a great pleasure to welcome our new cohort of graduate students on Friday, September 16, 2016 at a reception at Hawk’s Nest. The students are all feeling very excited about their courses, and are also very much looking forward to teaching, some of them for the first time. We are particularly pleased to welcome Edwin Adjei, a visiting scholar from Ghana, who kindly attended the party in spite of having arrived in Canada only the day before. Our Faculty members are delighted to welcome all of them; the reception was a warm and vibrant affair, enjoyed  by everyone.

Submitted by: Lynn Shakinovsky, Graduate Chair

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.

 

 

My 8 Month MA at Laurier: Amanda Spallaci

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For me, the Department of English and Film Studies was the ideal program to obtain a Masters Degree. Upon entering the MA program, I was immediately embraced by the PhD students who were incredibly helpful, willing to discuss classes and research, and assist with my move to Waterloo. A Masters degree is incredibly rigorous, and on account of the demanding workload, often times students tend to isolate themselves. Yet, in this department, the PhD students created a sense of community for the MA students; they planned social events, and maintained a constant outlet for kind and compassionate communication. I received astounding support and genuine care from the students in the Department, and formed friendships that I know are long lasting.

Throughout all of my education, I have yet to encounter an entire faculty who are as innovative, brilliant, and caring as the professors who constitute the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier. This Department possesses the finest and most skilled researchers in Canada. Even with their demanding schedules, each professor assisted me with developing my own research, determine my future plans, and even offer personal guidance. These professors are truly exemplary and display a genuine amount of empathy and care for the graduate school experience.

During the school year, I presented papers at two conferences. For the Southwest Pacific Popular Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February 2016, I read my paper, “Resistance and Healing: The Representation of Sexual Violence in Personal Testimony.” In March 2016, I presented “The Construction of Transgender Identities in Popular Culture” for the Northeastern Modern Language Association Conference in Hartford, Connecticut.

In addition, IABA SNS [Life Writing Graduate Student and New Scholar Network] published my paper, “Lena Dunham and Sexual Violence: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’: About Rape” in November 2015. I was also involved in community activism and sat on the Gender Violence Task Force at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Next year, I will begin my doctoral work at University of Alberta. My proposed research project focuses predominantly on personal narratives of sexual violence in autobiographical texts and visual media in North American culture. Personal testimony illuminates systemic injustices, violence against women, and helps us cultivate a better understanding of memory and trauma. This interdisciplinary study is crucial as it explores the intersections of gender, memory, trauma, affect, text and film. I argue that autobiographical texts and films offer a nuanced approach to the study/issue of sexual violence, addressing the sizable injustice inflicted both socially and legally on rape survivors, and how these narratives function as a form of resistance against cultural oppression.

Graduation is bitter sweet; I am excited to complete my degree, but am sad to leave such a warm environment. I will always look back at my Masters Degree in the Department of English and Film Studies, and recall the countless pleasant memories with sincere fondness.

By: Amanda Spallacci  (MA 2016)