Outside People By Mariam Pirbhai: Book Launch

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On November 2, 2017, Veritas Café was packed with faculty, students, and members of the community for the launch of Professor Mariam Pirbhai’s collection of short stories, Outside People and Other Stories, published by Inanna Publications in Toronto.

Two student writers opened the evening’s festivities. Jenna Hazzard, whose short story was recently a runner-up in Elle magazine’s national writing competition, read a humorous episode from the opening pages of her novella-in-progress, set in a library just after New Year’s Eve. Jenna’s reading  prompted one longtime library employee to say that she hit the mark with all her details. Kyleen McGragh performed two of her poems, “”Exhale” and “Parasite.” Both poems were recently published in FreeLit magazine, and Kyleen gave a riveting and bold recitation.

 

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Professor Pirbhai graciously thanked her colleagues, students, and especially, her Latin American friends for their support. Her stories, she noted, were about the invisible rather than the “visible” minorities in Canada. They are not just about immigrants, but about the domestic worker, temporary migrant labourers, those who are left behind and whose families are fractured because of globalization.

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She began by reading an excerpt from “Air Raids,” featuring a modern Muslim woman’s would-be sexual encounter with an airline steward during his stopover in Montreal. Set against the backdrop of a protest against a Quebec bill banning religious symbols, the story is rich with the voices of English, French, Pakistani, Jewish, and Arabic people.

Her second excerpt, “Chicken Catchers,” was based on the horrific car accident which killed ten migrant workers and the truck driver near Stratford in the winter of 2012. The victims were from Peru, five who had only recently arrived. Pirbhai’s story focuses on the inter-ethnic friendship between a Peruvian and a Jamaican worker, and may lead us to question Canadian habits of consuming chicken, particularly our preference for chicken breasts.

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She ended with a funny story, “Crossing Over,” about a woman from Mumbai’s consternation about having to perform inelegant and unfeminine manoeuvers in the family car in order to attend a dinner party in Halifax in winter.

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Outside People has been praised as a “stunning debut.”

Photos and Story by Eleanor Ty

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LUJA Launch 2017

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Over 40 students and faculty members attended the launch of the new issue of Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts on October 25, 2017 at the Robert Langen Gallery in the library.  A number of English and Film Studies students served on the management board responsible for the first issue of 2017.  They included: Mitchell Kooh, Mynt Marsellus, Esther Brockett, Brittney Tessier, Carina Rampelt, Madeline McInnis, and Vidish Parikh.  This issue includes articles on a wide range of topics, including, Disney films Wall-E and Tangled,  Tomson Highway,  the repatriation program used by International organizations,  changing demographics in Japan,  the constructedness of female orgasms, and non-binary identities. Mynt Marsellus noted that LUJA received over 200 submissions, and it was difficult for the editors to choose ten essays.

Richard Nemesvari, the Dean of Arts, expressed his delight and approbation of extra-curricular activities such as LUJA because they were a good form of experiential learning and a testament to the intellectual work happening at Laurier.

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Organizer and this year’s Editor, Angela James welcomed the new crew who would take over the Management of LUJA.

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It was an enjoyable evening, with good food, exquisite music, and even prizes for the audience.

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LUJA is funded by the Arts Undergraduate Society at Laurier.

Photos and  story by Eleanor Ty

 

English Students “Meet the Profs” Night

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Laurier’s English Students Association organized a “Meet the Profs” night at the Hawk’s Nest on Monday, October 2, 2017.

A literary guessing game was organized by Manreet Lachhar and co-VP of Events, Tess Campbell. The names of well-known literary texts and characters were supposed to be very familiar, but managed to stump a few professors and our Dean of Arts.

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Student Association President Chance LeJeune welcomed everyone and there were treats and special way to make s’mores.  A few brave souls dressed up for the photo booth.

It was a fun gathering and a nice way to meet students and colleagues.

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Photos courtesy of Mhairi Chandler.

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

Carina Rampelt, Gold Medal Winner, Faculty of Arts

 

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Congratulations to Carina Rampelt who was awarded the Faculty of Arts Gold Medal for Academic Excellence at the Spring convocation 2017.

Carina has great memories of her time at Laurier:

I recently graduated from WLU with a BA in English and French. I really enjoyed my time at Laurier; being able to spend four years of my life focused on something I’m so passionate about was definitely an incredible opportunity, and I’m happy to say that I met some of my closest friends in the English program. I think looking back, what stands out to me about the past four years are the little things—quiet library mornings, events at Veritas, long Blueprint production days, and late night study sessions with friends. Those were the daily rhythms of my time at Laurier, and I think it’s those familiar patterns that I’m going to miss the most. Where I’m headed this next year is a bit of a tricky question—even though I applied and was accepted to several graduate programs, I ended up deciding to take a year off before pursuing any further studies. For now, I’m doing a lot of freelance work, volunteering, and daydreaming about possible travel plans…not to mention applying to “real” jobs in my spare time. Maybe I’ll be back at Laurier (or elsewhere!) for my master’s next year.

We wish you all the best, Carina.

 

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.


 

Tanis MacDonald Wins Teaching Award

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The Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs has presented Professor Tanis MacDonald with the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Teaching Award.

In keeping with Robert Kroetsch’s legacy in Canadian letters and teaching, this award is presented annually to a creative writing teacher who displays an exceptional example of creative writing theory and practice (including implementation and outcomes). The award of $1,000 is for demonstrated innovation(s) in areas including pedagogy, method, design, curriculum, assessment, technologies, learning techniques.

Tanis MacDonald’s submission was “Process Installation: Opening Up Revision in the Classroom.” She notes that the first audience members for this material were the students of EN370: Creative Writing: Poetry in Fall 2016 for whom the material, and the sample poem “The Haunting,” were originally created.

Congratulations, Tanis MacDonald!