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.

 

 

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EN370: Poetry writing course ready for Fall 2016

EN 370 poster

I know it’s summer, and I also know that summer goes fast. If you are reading this, you know that it’s never too early to starting thinking about fall courses. I know that I am, and I hope you’ve seen my posters advertising EN370: Creative Writing:poetry, now part of our new Minor in Writing for Career and Community, and of course, a course that was offered for many years by Ed Jewinski, and by me since 2015.

Students often say to me that poetry isn’t their main genre, that they think of themselves more as fiction writers. That’s excellent, and that’s a good reason to take EN370, so your fiction writing can be enhanced by your exploration of poetry. Remember that there are plenty of good writers who work in both genres and say that writing poetry contributes to their prose practice: Raymond Carver, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, and Anne Carson, to name only a few.

Entrance to the course is by portfolio only. If you are a student interested in the course, or if you know a student who’d be interested, poetry portfolios (6-8 pages of poetry in Word or PDF) are due to me at tmacdonald@wlu.ca as soon as possible.

Follow the link below to the cool video advertising the course on the department’s Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/355694141158120/

 

 

My 8 Month MA at Laurier: Amanda Spallaci

Spallacci collage

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)

 

Michael Daly Wins Eric Hoffer Award

Laurier English grad (2006) Michael Daly’s first book, The Havana Papers has won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for best non-fiction ebook. The Eric Hoffer Award honors freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. The “Hoffer” honors books from small, academic, and micro presses, including self-published offering and the grand prize is $2,000.

In addition to the Hoffer award, Daly’s book also won the First Horizon Award, a prize given to the best first-time authors. Michael Daly works as the Quality Assurance Coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University. He provides support for departments undergoing cyclical reviews and developing new programs, as well as administrating Laurier classroom management processes. Outside of work, Michael Daly is a partner in a production company that writes and records original radio plays for a modern audience.

About The Havana Papers:

With a 1958 portable typewriter in his suitcase, the writer wanders Havana’s crumbling back alleys, bullet-sprayed museums, and grand hotels where the relics of the Revolution and the ghost of Hemingway still speak loudly. 


Whether getting grifted while watching a dubiously-billed piano player from the Buena Vista Social Club, dodging grifters and conmen, or wandering amongst over a million marble graves, The Havana Papers offers a rare glimpse into old Havana—a UNESCO World Heritage site—in the 21st Century. 

When his typewriter breaks in transit, the writer is forced to reconsider his writing holiday and put his novel on hold, until a new story emerges from the vibrance and history in the Old City—Habana Vieja. 

Travel beyond the postcard pictures and vibrant colours of the tourist facade, and into a world forgotten by time’s advance, frozen in a fifties’ imagination, and aching under the strain of modernity. The Havana Papers reveals a complex, contemporary portrait of one of the world’s great historic cities.

The Havana Papers is available for your favourite eReader wherever fine eBooks are sold.

Rebekah Ludolph wins Emerging Scholar Award at Congress 2016

Laurier English and Film Studies doctoral student Rebekah Ludolph was awarded the Barbara Godard Prize for the Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar at a ceremony during the 2016 Congress for the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Calgary on Saturday, May 28. Le Prix Barbara-Godard de la meilleure communication par un jeune chercheur is awarded annually by the bilingual Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures/Association pour Littératures du Canada et Quebec (ACQL/ALCQ) as an acknowledgement of the ongoing legacy of York University’s Canadian literature scholar Barbara Godard, who was a mentor to many students and a leader in the scholarly community. Godard’s own interests in feminist theory, autobiography, and Indigenous women’s writing make the awarding of this prize to Rebekah’s paper of Mohawk author and environmental activist Anahareo especially appropriate and poignant. The award was presented to Rebekah by Dr. Sara Jamieson, President of ACQL/ALCQ and Associate Professor at Carleton University.

Rebekah delivered her paper, titled “Humour, Intersubjectivity, and Indigenous female identity in Anahareo’s Devil in Deerskins” in a special session on Indigeneity, Redemption, Agency on Sunday, May 29 at the University of Calgary. The award-winning paper began as a final essay in EN609: Canadian Women’s Literature offered in Fall 2015 in the Department of English and Film Studies, and Laurier faculty and students saw a preview of the paper when Rebekah delivered it as part of Showcase, the English and Film Studies Graduate Student colloquium, held at Laurier on March 30th.

After receiving the Godard Prize, which includes the opportunity for the paper to be published in the leading scholarly journal Canadian Literature, Rebekah commented: “I am very grateful for this encouragement at the beginning of my PhD journey. My paper would not have taken its current shape without the support of our English department, especially Dr. MacDonald, Dr. Kerber, fellow PhD student Heather Olaveson, my classmates in EN609, and the 2016 EN/FS Department Colloquium.” Supported by a SSHRC doctoral fellowship, Rebekah is studying alternative subjectivities and multicultural texts in Canadian literature. Rebekah Ludolph and Sara Jamieson, Godard Prize 2016

Dr. Sara Jamieson presents Rebekah Ludolph with the Barbara Godard Prize for Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar in Calgary on May 28, 2016.

 

My Practicum Experience for the MA in English

Caitlin Szikora

Caitlin Szikora ’16

Upon completion of my BA, I became interested in Laurier’s English MA, a program that fuses English and Film Studies for an in-depth look into nation, gender, and media. I majored in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto for my BA, and minored in both English and History. When I found out that there was an MA program that essentially combined these fields into one coherent year of study, I knew it was the right program for me. The courses offered included a practicum option, which offered a course credit in exchange for a six-week practical placement at the end of the program.

To me, this was the perfect opportunity to see how the skills developed in my MA program would benefit me in a workplace setting. I have always been interested in careers working with film production and writing, but my knowledge up until the beginning of my placement had been theoretical. As much as I love analysis and academia, I was eager to try and learn more hands-on production skills.

For six weeks in the spring, I worked for Laurier International primarily on producing a series of videos about safety for international students along with another student coworker and one of Laurier’s special constables. As a result, I was able to learn skills in a wide range of areas. I helped to write the content and scripts for the videos, using the writing skills gained throughout the MA English program as well as learning about how to write in new formats. I also was involved in producing the videos, and learned about cameras and cinematography to a great extent as well.

As this project was relatively large in scale, my coworker and I decided to set up a volunteer team that would be able to work together as a production crew. Much of my time at Laurier International became devoted to the organization of this group, and we were able to build a team of around fifteen students – the majority of whom were either international students or film studies students – who had indicated an interest in learning about media technology and in helping future international students be informed. We met several times a week for meetings, during which we would plan our videos by writing and storyboarding together along with having in-house lessons on cameras and how to use the video equipment. We also met weekly for production days, on which we would shoot our videos. We were able to work in a variety of spaces around campus and produce collect a wide amount of footage on these days, giving students a chance to act in the scenes as well as to operate the equipment we had on set. As a result of the scale of the project, it is still ongoing. What started as a small group designed to focus on safety videos grew into a larger team that my coworkers and I hope will be able to continue making films for Laurier International for the rest of the summer and into the next academic year as well. We are currently thinking of coming up with a name for the team and turning it into a more permanent student club, in which students are able to take control of the video production process and to find new ways to tell their own stories based in international learning experiences. The establishment of this group was a large part of what I worked on during my time at Laurier International, and I have informed the group that I will be able to continue on as a volunteer when I am able! Organizing and facilitating meetings with this group allowed me to further my skills as a leader within a team-based environment.

Aside from the video project, I did several small writing-based tasks as well, including working on a conference program and going through Laurier International’s websites to look for information that needed to be updated. These smaller-scale tasks kept me busy on the days on which we were not working on our videos. Overall, I found my placement at Laurier International to be an extremely positive experience, in which I was able to learn many skills I had been interested in and gain plenty of experience in my field. I am very glad that the MA program offers the practicum option as it was a fantastic way for me to be able to experience first-hand what I am able to do as an English and Film Studies student in a workplace setting, as well as allowing me to consider my future.

 

 

Farewell to Alisha Walters

Alisha 001

Congratulations to Alisha Walters who is taking up a tenure-track position at Penn State University, Abington, starting in August 2016.  Alisha Walters’s research focuses on race in Victorian texts.  She has taught a number of courses at the graduate and undergraduate level at Laurier in the last two years, including Victorian literature, Romantic literature, Academic Writing, Reading Fiction, and the 19th Century novel.  We wish Alisha Walters all the best, and will miss a wonderful teacher and colleague.