Welcome, Ada Sharpe


We welcome Dr. Ada Sharpe this year as Assistant Professor in Writing Studies and 19th Century Literature. Professor Sharpe has just completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University working on representations of artistic labour in the fiction of women writers of the Romantic period. Her ongoing research addresses issues surrounding gender, art, and work in British women’s writing of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She also has expertise in academic and professional writing.

This year, she will be teaching three sections of EN190: Introduction to Academic Writing, EN309r: Illness, Medicine, and Literature, as well as a graduate seminar on Women, Writing, and Work in the 19th-Century Novel. Currently, she is working on a book-length project on the professionalization of accomplishment in the moral-domestic novel, c. 1790-1820.


A Message from the Chair

I really hope the first week of term is going well. Keep posted to this blog, where the Department’s special events will be announced. I draw your attention to several courses in the Winter term that still have spaces:

EN 211 Roots, Race, Resistance

EN 218 Contemporary American Literature

EN 252 Multiculturalism and Literature

EN 267 Canada Now

EN 280 Indigenous Literatures in English

EN 299 British Literature Between the Wars

EN 396 Mid-Victorian Literature

Please also consider joining the English Students Association and/or the Film Studies Students Society, both of which offer popular events throughout the term. I am always pleased to talk to students, and I’m in my office most days. I hope you have a very successful and productive term.

Robin Waugh

Filmmaker and rock musician Wendy Schneider to present The Smart Studios Story, Fri. Sept. 23

the-smart-studios-story-director-wendy-schneider-250If you’ve ever been moved by the music of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, L7, or Death Cab For Cutie, you’ve been moved by the sounds created at Smart Studios, an unassuming indie recording studio that became a driving force of alternative rock worldwide. The story of this humble facility — its rise from a dilapidated building located on the edge of town in Madison, Wisconsin, to a legendary recording facility featuring a talent roster of acclaimed artists — is the subject of a new feature-length documentary, The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider. We are thrilled to welcome Schneider to the Waterloo and Brantford campuses for a series of classroom visits as well as public screenings on Friday, September 23. The Waterloo screening will be followed by a discussion with Schneider and Bob Egan, former member of Blue Rodeo and now Community Outreach Manager of the Kitchener Public Library.

Featuring never-before-seen archival footage as well as interviews with Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Shirley Manson, Donita Sparks, Chris Walla, and many more, the film focuses on the pivotal Midwest link to the global rise of indie alt-rock music. The film debuted at SXSW 2016 and has since earned critical accolades. In Variety, Dennis Harvey writes, “With plenty of archival video and other materials on tap, The Smart Studios Story is a whirlwind tour of a busy if largely subterranean epoch whose long, often fleetingly glimpsed talent roster should pique the curiosity (and/or nostalgia) of alt-rock archaeologists.”

Schneider, who resides in Madison, Wisconsin, leverages the power of music, film, and the visual arts in order to address community issues. She is the creative force behind a range of projects including an audio documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning CD compilation of songs protesting the Iraq War, audio soundscapes for children, the groundbreaking film documentaryCUT: Teens and Self-Injury (Official Film Selection of the 2008 American Psychological Association conference), and most recently The Smart Studios Story. A long-time community activist, her work is dedicated to bringing creativity into contact with community issues, as evidenced by her many local projects in Madison, including Sparkle Dog®, a company that uses audio-based literature as a learning tool in local elementary schools, and fundraisers for groups including Housing Initiatives, Rape Crisis Center, and the Young, Gifted & Black Coalition. Also a well-known figure in Madison’s rock music scene, Schneider has released two albums, Bugatti Type 35 and Traction.

All are welcome to attend this free event. Brantford details: Friday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. in OD107 (Odeon Theatre, 50 Market St.). Waterloo details: Friday, Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. in BA201 (Bricker Academic Building). Light refreshments will be served at the Waterloo screening. For more information, contact Dr. Katherine Spring at kspring@wlu.ca or 519-884-0710, ext. 4149.

The event is made possible with the generous support of the Office of the Provost & Vice-President: Academic, Office of the Dean of Arts, Department of English and Film Studies, Department of Communication Studies, and Digital Media and Journalism Program.


A Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Fall term of 2016-17. Keep posted to this blog, where the Department’s special events will be announced. Be sure to consider taking these exciting courses, where seats are going fast:

EN 231 Arthurian Traditions

EN 233 Shakespeare: Comedies and Romances

EN 266 American Literature of the Twentieth Century

EN 309r Illness, Medicine, and Literature

EN 345 The British Novel in the Nineteenth Century

EN 347 Narratives of Empire

EN 381 Gaming and Narrative Theory

EN 390 Chaucer and the Middle Ages

FS 309e Japanese Science Fiction

Please also consider joining the English Students Association and/or the Film Studies Students Society, both of which offer popular events throughout the term. I am always pleased to talk to students, and I’m in my office most days. I hope you have a very successful and productive term.

Robin Waugh

The Laurier free film series presents “A World of Leading Ladies.”

film-posterThe six-part film series is open to the community and begins Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Bricker Academic Building, room 102, on Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus. This Fall’s series offers strong and interesting women in leading roles in films from different genres and different countries. Each film corresponds to one of the programs offered in Laurier’s Department of Languages and Literature, namely French, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Italian. The series is presented by Laurier’s Department of English and Film Studies, in partnership with the WLU Film Society, and with funding from the Dean of Arts Office. Each screening includes an informative introduction by a Laurier faculty member.

All films in the series are free and take place at 7 p.m. in the Bricker Academic Building, room 102. They include:

September 15 – Amélie (France, Jean-Pierre Jeunet 2001) – Introduced by Dr. Milo Sweedler

With its whimsical depiction of the “The Fabulous Life of Amélie Poulain” (as the French title translates into), this 2001 romantic comedy captured critical acclaim, international attention, and box-office success and came to be the highest-grossing French-language film released in the US. The film centers on the charming and captivating performance of French actress and model Audrey Tautou who achieved international recognition and stardom as a result. Be prepared to be enchanted by Amélie.

September 29 – Run Lola Run (Germany, Tom Tykwer 1999) – Introduced by Dr. Alexandra Zimmermann

Run Lola Run is a 1998 German thriller starring Franka Potente as the young woman who runs in order to obtain the money she needs to save her boyfriend’s life. The film garnered international acclaim for its innovative postmodern style and its clever exploration of fate, time and love. Potente’s stand-out performance saw her crossover into Hollywood films, including The Bourne Identity (2002). Enjoy the videogame-inspired visual style, breakneck pace of the story, and compelling action heroine of Run Lola Run.

October 20 – Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, Guillermo del Toro 2006) – Introduced by Dr. Marc Olivier Reid

Just in time for Halloween! Pan’s Labyrinth will make you feel differently about people holding up their hands in front of their faces… The 2006 Spanish film won three Oscars and launched the career of now-famed director Guillermo del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth is part war film, part fantasy, part horror as a bookish young woman is faced with a sadistic army officer for a step-father and escapes into a fantasy world. The stunning visual fairy-tale world comes alive thanks to the earnest and award-winning performance of then eleven-year-old Ivana Banquero, who more recently starred in The Shannara Chronicles (2016) on North American television.

November 3 – Wadjda (Saudi Arabia/Germany, Haifaa al-Mansour 2013‎‎) – Introduced by Dr. Hanan Abdullatif

Wadjda was the first feature-length film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first made by a female Saudi director. The film won numerous international awards and was selected as the Saudi Arabian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards. The film follows the life of an 11-year-old Saudi girl who dreams of owning a bicycle so that can race against boys—but riding bikes is frowned upon for girls. Through the impressive performance of the young actress Waad Mohammed and its inspirational story, the film explores questions of gendered oppression in modern Saudi Arabia.

November 10 – Bread and Tulips (Italy, Silvio Soldini 2000) – Introduced by Dr. Russell Kilbourn

The Italian comedy Bread and Tulips stars Licia Maglietta in her breakout role as an unfulfilled, middle-aged housewife who takes an unplanned vacation from her family life. In Venice, she discovers a rewarding social life full of fascinating friends and unfamiliar adventures. The film was an official selection at the Toronto and Cannes film festivals and won numerous awards, including Best Actress for Maglietta. Critics described the film as “delightful” and promise that “it’ll make you believe in love no matter what the odds.” Roger Ebert argued, “It’s all in the casting.[…] Maglietta is the secret of this film’s romantic charm.”

November 17 – Rust and Bone (France-Belgium, Jacques Audiard 2012) – Introduced by Dr. Sharon Marquart

Rust and Bone is a 2012 French–Belgian romantic drama about a young man who falls in love with killer whale trainer played by Marion Cotillard. The film was a critical and box office hit in France and received many international film nominations and awards. Much of the film’s critical praise stemmed from Cotillard’s exceptional performance which saw Hollywood take interest and cast her in films like Inception (2010). Actress Cate Blanchett described Cotillard’s performance as “unexpected and as unsentimental and raw as the film itself.”

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.


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.

A Different Path to Teaching

By : Carolyn Hough, BA Hons  EN 2016

        For as long as I’ve known myself (a pretty long time), I’ve known two things to be true: I love to read and I want to be a teacher. Both of these facts led me to Laurier, led me to the English department, and led me to Residence Life.

When I first arrived at Laurier I moved into a single room in Willison Hall, and had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into. My first university class ever was an upper year French class of 20 people, and is an experience I still consider to be one of the scariest of my life. In contrast, my first English class was “Reading Fiction,” and amid the 150 people in N1001, I felt right at home. We studied an extraordinarily wide range of literature, from Pride and Prejudice, a longtime favourite, to graphic novels in the form of Maus. I loved every second of it.

Through the encouragement of my own Residence Life Don, I applied to be a part of the First Year Leadership Program in Willison, House Council, and spent the eight months of my first year being happily pulled out of my comfort zone. I fell in love with Residence and the friendships it had given me, and with my naive first year eyes, applied to be a Don. Again, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

Hough Willison         My three years of being a Don were nothing short of an adventure. Over the years, I had the privilege of being a Don to over 80 students, an advisor to about 40, a coach to around 60, and a presence to approximately 400. And while I originally thought that guiding and leading students was simple and clear, black and white, I quickly discovered that growth is a relative term, that everything is a teachable moment, and that learning does not stop when you step outside of a classroom.

I discovered that there was more than one way to be a teacher. I could take the traditional route, the expected route, and graduate with a degree of teachable subjects, ready to take on teacher’s college, then battle an ever growing list of qualified teachers for a classroom of my own. Or, I could take a look outside the four walls of a lecture hall, the pages of a textbook, and see the way that a fresh start, a friendship, a guiding hand, and an opportunity to be unashamedly yourself, screw ups and all, could teach someone so much more than a math equation, or iambic pentameter, or the strategies that make a business successful, ever could. I was able to witness, over eight months, hundreds of fresh faced high school graduates stumble their way through first year and come out the other side with purpose, enthusiasm, and a stronger sense of self. Sometimes those eight months were full of teachable moments, and sometimes the experience itself was enough of a teacher.

I am by no means exempt from the learning influence that Residence enacts on people. I entered donning a fresh faced first year student and over the next three years I learned more than I ever cared to know about team dynamics and work ethic. I learned how to survive on very little sleep and that when I had the opportunity to sleep, earplugs were a necessity. My time as a Don honed my multitasking and time management skills as I dealt with first years who were away from home for the first time (and all the things that brings) while reading at least a Shakespeare play a week. I learned that I work best when things are on the verge of chaos, and that every time I thought I couldn’t possibly do more, I surprised myself. I learned that the best friendships are formed at 3:00am when you’re collectively facing down the chaos that is Halloween or Homecoming or even just a Friday night. I learned that chocolate, a comfy couch, and an open door brings people together more than you could possibly imagine. I learned the advantage of giving a single warning, of remembering people’s names, of regarding even the most infuriating students with unconditional positive regard. I learned how to learn from those around me, first years, or colleagues, or supervisors. And I learned how to turn life in Residence into a teaching moment.

When it came time for me to graduate, I wasn’t quite ready to give up this more holistic and life-centered way of teaching. Before I even got my degree in June, I was offered a job with Campus Living Centres at Seneca Newnham in Toronto as a Residence Life Coordinator. Having read, absorbed, and analyzed texts as difficult as Beowulf and Ulysses, I am well-prepared for learning the complexities of a new institution. And while a lot of things about my life have changed, the same two things about me are true: I love to read, and I am a teacher.


Hough hugs