Officially Dr. Anders Bergstrom!

Anders graduation IMG_4045Anders Bergstrom received his PhD at the June 12, 2017 convocation and his  dissertation, entitled In Search of Lost Selves: Memory and Subjectivity in Transnational Art Cinema received the Award for Outstanding Work at the Graduate Level.

Anders’ dissertation addresses the thorny topic of the subject, that philosophical category central to conceptions of self and identity that emerged in the modern, post-classical era, but which has been placed under interrogation, if not wholly discarded, in contemporary discourses. This project offers an answer for why this term and related concepts persist and manifest in contemporary cultural forms such as the narrative film, in the representation and materialization of memory within. Through analysis and discussion of examples drawn from contemporary transnational cinema—including, among others, The Tree of Life (2011), Melancholia (2011), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), and Goodbye, Dragon Inn(2003)—the study addresses the role that art cinema practices play and have played in shaping our conceptions of selfhood.

Anders’ PhD was supervised by Dr. Russell J. A. Kilbourn, with Dr. Jing Jing Chang and Dr. Tamas Dobozy serving as committee members.  Dr. John Caruana, from the Department of Philosophy at Ryerson University, attended as the external examiner at his defence.

Anders is in the process of revising his dissertation for publication and continuing to research and teach film studies. He recently taught a course on Hong Kong Cinema this spring at University of Toronto Mississauga, and will be returning to teach a course on East Asian Film at Laurier this fall.

Our best wishes and hearty congratulations to Anders!

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Anders with wife, Rochelle in Paris.


 

Departmental Award Winners 2017

Congratulations to all the students in English and Film Studies who have won departmental awards and scholarships this year! The list of award recipients is as follows:

Campbell/Verduyn Prize for Film: Grace Jansen In De Wal    

Jim Clark Prize for Drama: Brittany Lazar

Chris Heard Memorial Writing Prize: Danielle LeDuc

Pauline Carole Leavine Scholarship in English: Caroline Weiner, Erin McHarge

Hugh MacLachlan Scholarship: Lindsay Meaning

Barbara Parker Memorial Scholarship: Danielle LeDuc, Denise Springett

Princess Cinema Award: Amanda Mckelvey

Flora Roy Scholarships: Erin McHarge, Aaron Rupert, Carina Rampelt

Paul Tiessen Scholarship in Film: Emily Sider

Weldon and Misser Prize in Poetry: Sarah Best

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.

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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

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

Sam McKegney: Alumni Profile

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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.”

 

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.